“The Trump-Pence administration has spent a year systematically working to take away people’s ability to control their own bodies and lives," said Dawn Laguens, EVP of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. In 2017, Planned Parenthood watched the White House wage a war on women’s bodies and women’s rights—and they’re not going to stand around and let it happen. That’s why the future of Planned Parenthood is all about putting up a fight.
Women’s rights are under threat, but the truth is, it started long before Trump. In many states, more and more restrictive laws have been being passed for years, which don’t make abortion technically illegal—they can’t, thanks to Roe v Wade—but laws are aimed making them almost impossible to get. Increasing waiting times, allowing (or demanding) that women wanting an abortion are given misinformation to talk them out of it, insisting on standards that abortion clinics can’t reach, forcing them to close down, pulling funding—these threats have become commonplace. Some of the measures, like the fetal heartbeat bills, seem to be aimed at nothing other than humiliating women who want to have abortions—to shame them out of it. In many states, the situation was already dire for women wanting accessible and affordable abortion services.
Then Trump was elected. And things got worse. Expanding the Global Gag rule, slashing Title X Protections which provided over 4 million low-income individuals with health care, repeated threats to Planned Parenthood’s funding, recent challenges to transgender care—from the time the Trump-Pence administration took office, it’s been one assault after another.
The Year Of The Fight
But this year, Planned Parenthood is fighting back. In February, they launched legislative initiatives in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, West Virginia, and the District of Columbia—and they have plans to roll out to all 50 states. In Oklahoma, they’ve introduced a reproductive health non-discrimination bill. In Maine, they’re supporting the state attorney general’s bill that would make the abortion pill more accessible. It’s a systematic, defensive strategy. Look at each state, look at what it needs, and be there.
As recently as April 24, they were in court fighting for the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program (TPPP), which the Trump-Pence administration pulled last year. Planned Parenthood is suing, saying that terminating the program—which had a proven track record and helped over a million young people—was unlawful. But it's just one of a series of battles that you'll see rolling out throughout 2018.
If you want to keep up to date with all that Planned Parenthood is doing across the country, check out their social media feed—or their press release page. Seeing all of the fires they’re trying to put out around the country is a humbling experience.
Planned Parenthood is offering support everywhere—but not just in the courtroom. They have come out swinging against a recent op-ed by Kevin D. Williamson in the Washington Post, in which he argued that “abortion is an absolute evil” and discussed possible punishments for abortion—an article many women have found upsetting and triggering. In these circumstances, having public figures like Laguens speaking up on on the side of women is crucial. It’s a reminder that someone sane is representing you. The Planned Parenthood staff is refusing to let misogynistic language be normalized.
On campuses around the country, they’re helping students confront their administrations about access to birth control. Whether it’s STD tests, providing birth control, education, expanding conversations about consent, cancer screenings, Planned Parenthood is striving to continue to give the coverage and support it always had.
There are so many attacks happening on women’s rights and women’s health that it’s easy to get complacent and numb. But the threats aren’t going anywhere. Ohio recently introduced a bill attempting to ban all abortion. All abortion. That’s illegal and terrifying. But it shows why we need Planned Parenthood fighting in our corner. Even if some of these threats to our health and our autonomy are so brazenly unlawful that they will never hold up in court, the fact remains that threats are there. People want to control women’s bodies and women’s choices—and they’ll go through any means necessary to do it.
What’s At Stake
“Every time we march and rally, we’re not just opposing the policies of the Trump-Pence administration and people who oppose access in Congress,” Laguens said. “We’re really fighting for a future where all people—no matter where they live, who they love or how much money they make—have the freedom to access the health care they need and to live the lives they want.”
It’s not just about abortion. It’s not just about health care. It’s about choice and autonomy and being recognized. It's about being seen as a person who has agency and whose opinions, wants, and needs matter. Maybe Laguens said it best:
“And just to remind people, health care is the means by which we deliver on our big idea, but the big idea behind Planned Parenthood for more than 100 years is that your body is your own and unless you can control your own body, you cannot be free and you cannot be equal.”
That’s what the future of Planned Parenthood is about.