Hello Dear Disruptors,
A lot of fun things happened this past week. The U.S. Congressional House’s decision on Friday to stop funding Planned Parenthood for a year was not one of them. That funding enables approximately 2.7 million people to access free and affordable healthcare, enabling both women and men in low-income areas to control their reproductive health, as well as providing other needed healthcare services. Infuriatingly, the move to deprive these people of access to these services was grounded in a slew of inaccuracies, and the claim that low-income individuals can readily access these services elsewhere is simply not the case.
That brings us to this week’s Promote a Petition. Except instead of just a petition, we’re calling on our community of disruptors to step up to the plate and promote Planned Parenthood in whatever way we can. This issue — all people’s right to reproductive healthcare regardless of gender or income — is at the heart of intersectional feminism. It gives women and people with gestational anatomy the rights to their own bodies, provides healthcare to people who cannot afford it, and promotes upward mobility by preventing girls, women, and people with gestational anatomy from having to choose between parenthood and their education / financial stability. Further, it helps prevent survivors of sexual assault from having to deal with further trauma as a result of the violence that they have already experienced.
Even though each of us individually may feel that our efforts don’t matter, when we band together, they most assuredly do.
1. One way you can help is to sign this petition urging the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee to stop funding the Democratic senators who signed onto this decision.
2. Beyond putting pressure on Democratic senators (it would be nice to pressure the Republican ones also but let’s be real here, the Republican Congressional Campaign Committee is a lot less likely to see eye to eye with us on this one), we can all try to make up some of the funding that Planned Parenthood has lost for the coming year. Will we be able to make a sizable dent? Maybe not, but maybe so — you would be surprised how far 5 bucks can go when it comes from everyone.
3. A third thing you can do is educate yourself about the facts behind the supposedly damning videos. You don’t have to watch all 12 hours of unedited footage, but you can read this article by someone who did. And I mean all the facts — not just the facts that help put these videos in their proper context, but also the facts that make us all squirm and say hey, that shouldn’t be happening here. Our ability and willingness to hold our team accountable is part of what helps us move forward and gives us credibility.
4. To the extent that you feel comfortable, try speaking up — about your opinion, how this impacts you or people you care about — when the subject arises among your family and friends. If you feel comfortable doing so, sharing personal stories about how Planned Parenthood has benefited you or someone you love (anonymously, unless the person has given permission to share their story) can go a long way toward helping people understand why this issue matters.
5. Call your local House Representatives and give them your opinion on how they voted. For good measure, call your Senators and give your feedback on how that vote went (thankfully, in the opposite direction). It may feel like your efforts are falling on deaf ears, but a friend of mine who worked in a senator’s office back in the day tells me that they do keep track of the number of calls and emails that come in on a given issue, as well as what the stances are. Supposedly, at least in that person’s office, calls are weighted more heavily than emails. Here’s a sample script:
“Hello — I’m calling to let [Your Representative’s Name] know that their decision to support Planned Parenthood and protect access to healthcare for the people they represent has earned them my vote in coming elections. Thank you.”
“Hello — I’m calling to let [Your Representative’s Name] know that their decision to defund Planned Parenthood, and in doing so to deprive the people they represent of access to healthcare, has cost them my vote in coming elections.”
In sum, like all organizations based on earth rather than on the backs of flying unicorns, Planned Parenthood is run by humans and is going to have areas we need to hold them accountable for. Yet although it is natural to think of Planned Parenthood as a single, monolithic organization, the reality is that it consists of over 700 different clinics, each with its own culture, strengths, and weaknesses. Shadiness at one of 700 clinics does not mean that each of the other 699 clinics operate the same way. These clinics provide severely needed services, such as the STI testing that could have helped prevent this HIV outbreak, wellness exams, pregnancy testing, sex education, and access to contraceptives. And yes, many provide abortions, which for many women can be a matter of life, death, physical and mental health, education, the ability to buy food and pay rent. It is pretty clear from the available evidence that the choice to defund Planned Parenthood for a year is going to cause severe harm to the most vulnerable people among us.
Let’s see what we can do to help.