In the days after Donald Trump was elected president, people packed Planned Parenthood’s offices across the country in emergency meetings to figure out what to do next.
Republicans will soon control all three branches of government, and they are poised to make sweeping changes to Americans’ everyday lives, particularly affecting women’s health care.
Since the election, over 315,000 people have donated to Planned Parenthood — 82,000 in Vice President-elect Mike Pence’s name so he would receive a personal notification each time.
And women have raced to get IUD birth control that could outlast Trump’s term as president.
The GOP party platform outlines its firm stance against abortion, Trump has said he wants to appoint Supreme Court justices to overturn women’s constitutional right to abortion under Roe v. Wade, and Pence has enacted some of the strictest legislation against abortion in the country as the governor of Indiana.
Now that the new Congress is in session, Planned Parenthood is gearing up for a fight.
The organisation announced Thursday that it is launching a national campaign for people to show their support for the nation’s largest reproductive health care provider, with 300 events planned across 47 states and 150 cities in the coming weeks, ranging from rallies and phone banks, to meetings with legislators.
Kelley Robinson, the deputy national organising director for Planned Parenthood who’s leading the effort, said they are “ready for the fight.”
“No matter what happens in this political landscape, we’re always going to be there taking care of our folks, taking care of our patients and the communities that we serve. That’s what we stand for,” Robinson told Business Insider. “I think in moments like this, in times of challenge and crisis, we lean back into who we are — quality health care providers and members of our communities.”
What they’re fighting for
The campaign is focusing on keeping Republicans in Congress from gutting the Affordable Care Act (ACA), and from passing legislation to “defund” Planned Parenthood. The Obamacare battle on the Hill began the day the new Congress took over, with Republicans making their case for repealing and replacing the ACA, and Democrats arguing to save it.
While politicians have popularised the term “defunding” when talking about stripping federal funds for Planned Parenthood, the group’s political communications director, Erica Sackin, explained why this is misleading.
“There’s no line item in the budget for Planned Parenthood. We’re not funded through the federal budget bill,” Sackin told Business Insider.
Planned Parenthood health centres serve 2.5 million people each year, nearly two-thirds of whom rely on public programs like Medicaid to pay for their care. When lawmakers pass bills to “defund” the organisation, (as many states have), those patients then have to pay for health care at Planned Parenthood out of pocket.
But the Hyde Amendment already makes it illegal to use Medicaid to pay for an abortion except in the case of rape, incest, or if the mother’s health is endangered.
So while it may seem like “defunding” Planned Parenthood is a way to prevent abortions, Robinson said, “all that is is code for blocking people’s access to getting the care that they need,” like mammograms and cervical cancer screenings.
Despite the long fight ahead, Robinson said she feels hopeful that Planned Parenthood will ultimately win.
“The work that we’ve done over the last few years to build our grassroots power has been in service of being able to provide health care to people who need it,” she said. “Elections are nothing but a bump in the road. The work that we’re doing at Planned Parenthood and the power that we’ve built is going to last longer — no matter who’s in office at any level.”
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