Deep breath, everyone. This month is a lot trickier than puppies and kitties. Planned Parenthood is one of the most, if not THE most, polarizing organizations in America. Almost everyone has an opinion, deeply rooted for some in morality and religion, for others in politics and human rights. Wherever you stand, I hope you will keep reading.
To say that the staff of Planned Parenthood are busy since election day is a vast understatement. It was too difficult to find a time for an in-person interview (most of the staff do not live in Flagstaff), so we exchanged some emails with Tayler Tucker, Planned Parenthood of Arizona’s Communication Specialist (with help from Desiree Perez, Annet Ruiter, and Helen Hemmer). I thought I knew a lot about PP, however the statistics and stories that Tayler provided made me realize the wide and varied scope of the services that PP provides.
What is at stake under this administration? A whole hell of a lot. Essentially, we have an administration that has set their sights on defunding Planned Parenthood. Even though the Affordable Care Act remains intact (for now), a large fear is that the attacks will come via the federal budget process. There are proposed increases in defense spending, and across the board cuts to social welfare programs. The administration in general is against reproductive health care and the well-being of low income people, and appears to be heartless and generally dead inside. Then we have the whole issue of an anti-choice SCOTUS nominee. With a shift in the Court’s ideology, we may see a quick erosion of Roe v Wade. Basically, our legislators at the Federal and State levels are emboldened by the DJT administration. An example from just this week in our lovely home state? Governor Doug Ducey signed what is being called one of the strictest abortion laws in the country (google SB1367… it’s a doozy, likely unconstitutional, and every caregiver I know is appalled by it).
Ultimately Planned Parenthood has been around for 100 years, and they have an army of people behind them ready to fight for their place in our society. The Planned Parenthood website is bursting with facts and personal stories of why this organization is so imperative. There are stories of clinicians that detect early cancer and save lives, young women who receive sex education and resources when they have nowhere else to turn, and affordable services provided to women who face all types of barriers.
In what other job, as you get out of your car and walk into the office, on any given day, do you face the potential for visceral hatred, obscenity, and the threat of possible violence from protestors on the sidewalk? Tayler tells us, in spite of it all, that PP employees feel supported. They know that they are not alone, and that many stand in solidarity with them. She writes, “It’s tough but we are tougher. Akin to any rights and justice movement - we cherish the victories, honor the people who laid the groundwork before us, and are energized knowing the fight ahead is too pressing to back away from. History shows that in the end the march toward progress wins.”
HOW CAN YOU PARTICIPATE?
CASH: Direct donations are always best so that most of your donation directly reaches the programs and services you want to support. Monthly donations are appreciated. Contributions to the political organization are much needed right now – they can be made here: (and are not tax deductible and may be used for political purposes, such as supporting and opposing candidates). Donations to healthcare and education programs can be made here (these are tax deductible).
ACTION: Ohmygoodness there are hundreds of things you can do. Here are just a few:
- Attend fundraisers and town halls! The N. Arizona dinner is this week (and sold out, bursting at the seams) but get on the mailing lists and websites so you don’t miss out on future events!
- Call your Senator, like immediately, and oppose Gorsuch (extremely time-sensitive) istandwithpp.org/call
- Then, go ahead and add all of your elected representatives (Federal and State) to your phone and get in the habit of calling them. Don’t sit on the sidelines! Become an activist. If you live in Flagstaff visit twwwnaz.org for weekly action items and events. Indivisibleguide.com is a primer on activism that all budding resisters, persisters, and snowflakes should read.
- Be an Advocate. Join a core group of supporters who pledge to give their time to support PP. bit.ly/ppazadvocate
- Make your next health care appointment at your PP Clinic PlannedParenthood.org/health-center/AZ
- Like the PP Facebook pages (local and national) and follow them on Twitter. Use the #IStandwithPP to post your support on social media
- Write letters to the editors and op-eds to local media. They need people to share personal stories to raise awareness of how policies affect communities. If you live in Flagstaff, you can submit to the Arizona Daily Sun at https://azdailysun.com/forms/online_services/letter/ (250 word limit)
FINALLY… SOME MYTHBUSTERS:
Keeping in mind that you probably won’t change a hard-core, anti-choice individual’s mind, I do find these facts useful to keep in my back pocket as I talk about my support of Planned Parenthood in the coming days, weeks, and months.
*The majority of Planned Parenthood’s care is preventive (3% nationally is abortion services) and we are proud to offer safe and legal abortion care.
*Planned Parenthood primarily provides birth control and sex education which means the majority of the work we do statistically has helped reduce unintended pregnancy. Guttmacher has published studies about how access to highly effective contraception like IUDs and implants is the driving force in the lowering of both unintended pregnancy and abortion rates.
*7 out of 10 Americans are in favor of Roe v. Wade (we know that abortion doesn’t stop if it’s legal or not, it just becomes unsafe. Texas is a prime example of what happens to people when abortion access is reduced and also if PP health centers are defunded or close).
*60% of Arizonans stand with Planned Parenthood.
* Since 1976’s adoption of the Hyde Amendment, tax payer dollars do not fund abortion except in extremely rare cases of rape, incest, or threat of life to the mother. Therefore, “defunding” is a misnomer. What politicians are actually aiming to do is block Medicaid patients from accessing Planned Parenthood and our services even though we are their provider of choice.
*The idea that other providers could absorb Planned Parenthood’s patients has been resoundingly dismissed by experts. In fact, Dr. Georges Benjamin, the executive director of the American Public Health Association, called the idea “ludicrous."
*At the end of the day, Planned Parenthood provides health care and information. The more they are able to give people the resources to decide if, when, and how, they have their families, we will all be stronger for it. Planned Parenthood has done more over the past 100 years to diminish situations like unplanned pregnancies than any picketer, religious leader, or politician.
The Flagstaff health center provides:
- Annual well woman exams
- Birth control consultation and supplies
- STD testing, treatment and vaccines
- HIV testing
- Emergency contraception
- Abortion by pill
- Pregnancy testing
- Sexual health patient consultation
Again… for massive amounts of information please visit www.plannedparenthood.org
In closing, it’s hard to believe we are only starting month four of this administration. I'm still waiting for Olivia Pope to show up in one of her amazing white pantsuits and fix this mess. In the meantime, I keep telling myself it's a marathon not a sprint. Lots of deep breaths, mass quantities of wine… these are the things that keep us sane, along with the knowledge that we are in fact, in this together.