INDIAN RIVER COUNTY – Planned Parenthood’s Vero Beach charity event scheduled for tonight has been cancelled amid concerns about possible protests.
The event, which was to be held at Oak Harbor Club in the Grand Harbor community off Indian River Boulevard, was called off after complaints about the event were lodged with the club. “While Oak Harbor Club is not responsible for the political motivations of a small number of extremist individuals working to close Planned Parenthood’s doors, we are still deeply disappointed with the Club’s decision to bow to pressure,” said Lillian Tamayo, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of South Florida and the Treasure Coast.
A call to the Oak Harbor Club Friday afternoon confirmed that the event had been cancelled, but the reasons were not released.
A series of transfers through the club’s phone system ended at the General Manager’s voicemail where a message was left seeking explanation.
Organizers had spent the last six months planning the annual fundraiser, which they hoped would help raise $50,000 to provide family planning and health services to those in need.
Tamayo said the cancellation “negatively impacts other Vero Beach community members such as our patients and donors who are being denied access at the last minute to a charity event that was raising much needed funds to provide preventive health care and education.”
She said Friday afternoon that the Oak Harbor Club did “not specifically” address the nature of its concerns, only the potential for protests.
Tamayo referred any other questions about Oak Harbor’s reasons to Oak Harbor representatives.
A call to the Indian River County Sheriff’s Office to determine if any threats or concerns had been raised was not immediately returned.
Tamayo contends that there is a “coordinated and highly political effort to undermine Planned Parenthood and the preventative health care and education we provide.”
“We understand how difficult it can feel to stand up against the intimidation of bullies, but we continue to urge community members to reject this dangerous attempt to eliminate access to common sense family planning, sexual health education and legal health care,” she wrote in a prepared statment.
Public Affairs Officer Judith Selzer commended Planned Parenthood supporters who had purchased tickets to the Vero Beach fund-raiser, noting that not one who was contacted about the cancellation had requested a refund.
“Vero Beach will stand with Planned Parenthood,” Selzer said, and not be intimidated. “We’re very pleased.” Planned Parenthood, for the last 90 years, has worked to build healthy communities, helping women, men and families get health tools and information.
Referring to the “extremists” who work to prevent Planned Parenthood’s work, Tamayo wrote: “They have a clear mission to eliminate family planning, birth control, and legal abortion. Simply put, their goal is to prevent women from accessing reproductive health care services. That is unacceptable.”
Opponents nationwide of Planned Parenthood have taken exception to the group’s assistance in abortion – a small portion of the overall service Planned Parenthood provides, according to Selzer.
The Planned Parenthood facility on State Road 60 in Vero Beach does not provide abortion services.
Tamayo said that, over the last few years, the number of people who come into Planned Parenthood has increased – representative nationwide, due to the economy.
Many of the people who seek help have either lost their jobs or seen a cut in the health care benefits.
“Extra money to manage life is becoming more scarce,” Selzer said. “We see that constant concern.”
This article will be updated as more information becomes available. This article was originally published at 1:37 p.m.