Cory Neering is CEO of Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central and Southern New Jersey. The organization is a member of the Quality Institute’s Leadership Council.
You recently became CEO, alongside Triste Brooks, of Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central and Southern New Jersey. How will having two CEOs expand your ability to provide reproductive health services?
Having expanded leadership via a dual CEO role allows Planned Parenthood of Northern, Central and Southern NJ to invest more in carrying out our mission as we expand access to reproductive health care across New Jersey. We’re proud to provide the full range of sexual and reproductive health care services, including services such as breast and cervical cancer screenings, affordable birth control, testing and treatment for sexually transmitted infections, and abortion care.
Planned Parenthood plays a critical role in not just delivering health care, but doing so in a way that continues to promote health equity to ensure that everyone can reach their full health potential. We do this work in partnership with countless others across the state.
Can you share how your personal experiences and background drive your passion for health equity?
Growing up in my community, in South Florida, it was one thing to have the right to receive health care services. But access was sometimes a key issue for my family … whether it was transportation or the financial barriers that sometimes presented themselves. And I have really made it a part of my life’s mission to make sure that I do everything I can to reduce those financial barriers. Planned Parenthood can’t do that alone. I can’t do that alone. But it’s through the coalescing of resources that we’re able to do that. And while I’m new to New Jersey, I’m not new to Planned Parenthood. I’ve worked in the Planned Parenthood community for over 20 years. As I shared, advancing health equity is important to me personally, and now I get to fulfill that in a professional way.
How has the pandemic changed how you provide care to your patients?
Our health centers have remained open, and we have, of course, operated in line with the New Jersey Department of Health and the CDC safety measures. What has been apparent to us is that the need for reproductive health care does not stop during a pandemic. As a matter of fact, it has been exacerbated. We have seen a surge in sexually transmitted infection rates. We know it’s critical that we continue to educate our community, and to make sure that we’re offering sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment. STIs are just one of the many health issues that we’ve seen exacerbated during COVID-19.
Your organization has been a vocal advocate for the Reproductive Freedom Act in New Jersey. Where is that legislation now and how would it impact your patients?
Attacks on the constitutional right to abortion, both on the state level and in the United States Supreme Court, are happening right now across the country. Earlier this month, we saw the most extreme ban on abortion in the United States go into effect in Texas, effectively eliminating access to abortion for millions of people overnight. And with the Supreme Court hearing a case this term that could fundamentally gut or overturn Roe v. Wade, access to abortion is at risk. All this highlights the fact that New Jersey can’t take a wait-and-see approach when it comes to protecting and expanding access to abortion. We need to act and codify the right to abortion in New Jersey state law now, not when it’s too late to prevent harm. But we can’t just stop there. We’ve always known that the constitutional right to abortion established by Roe v. Wade should be the foundation, not the ceiling. Even today, with abortion legal throughout New Jersey, many still can’t access it due to financial and logistic obstacles — and a right without access is no right at all. That’s why we need to pass the Reproductive Freedom Act. It’s one of our top priorities.
We like to ask people something outside of their professional lives. Can you tell us where we might see you on a day you are not work?
Well, I love to fish, and I love sports. And even though I reside in southern New Jersey, I will be rooting for the Miami Dolphins and the Florida Gators. And I love to fish when I have some discretionary time. My wife and I will enjoy exploring the Jersey shore.