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Albany/HV: Planned Parenthood advocates rally against funding cuts
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Busloads of Planned Parenthood advocates are heading to Washington as part of a national rally to prevent Congress from slashing funding for the group. YNN's Sabina Kuriakose has more on why they say a new statistic on teen pregnancy proves funding should not be cut.

ALBANY, N.Y. -- From Bristol Palin's public service ad to MTV's reality show "Teen Mom," teen pregnancy is getting a lot of attention in recent years. But now, some hard numbers to show that the rate of teen girls having babies is at a 20-year low. That's according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

"Certainly Planned Parenthood is one of the major educators in the Capital Region, in the state and across the nation on pregnancy prevention," said M. Tracey Brooks, President and CEO of Family Planning Advocates of New York.

Brooks said the proof is in the numbers. She said Planned Parenthood, a group she represents, has been a leader in helping pull the teen pregnancy rate down mostly through education. And that evidence couldn't come at a better time, as the group readies to join a national rally in Washington on Thursday to lobby lawmakers not to follow through with proposed funding cuts.

"That would be a direct hit to our schools who are already in a tenuous situation, because many of the schools call on Planned Parenthood to come in and teach their health class' pregnancy prevention. That's because of federal funding. So if you were to say that Planned Parenthood could no longer access that, we wouldn't see the numbers the way they are today," said Brooks.

As Republicans and Democrats battle over a budget bill in Congress, Planned Parenthood is just one special interest whose federal funding is on the chopping block. But conservative groups say the cuts are just.

"We believe that abstinence education works well and it hasn't been given enough of a chance to succeed," said Dennis Poust, communications director of the New York State Catholic Conference.

Poust said the Catholic Conference has no official stance on lawmakers' plans to cut Planned Parenthood's budget, but he said the fewer dollars that go to the family planning organization, the better.

"Even if they can't use federal dollars for abortions, every federal dollar they get frees up a private dollar for more abortions," said Poust.

As the Friday deadline for a federal budget deal gets closer, ralliers have little time to sway lawmakers.

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