Thursday, July 28, 2011

I Stand With Planned Parenthood.

Planned Parenthood Staff & Volunteers with Van Jones

You have to be in love with your job when it’s the middle of the day and you’re off to the Capitol for a rally. Of course, better that we were not in a situation where our basic human safety net, including Medicaid, Medicare and social security, were at such risk.

For the clients Planned Parenthood sees, Medicaid is an absolutely essential “benefit,” which helps pay for (but does not completely cover) basic health services such as Pap smears, cancer screenings and STI testing. As we saw in Indiana earlier this summer, cutting Medicaid simply means that more women are forced to go without care. For any fiscal conservatives, that should ring a warning bell. In addition to putting women’s health at risk—it actually ends up costing everyone more in the long term.

Many groups were at the rally today…and more can be found at For our part, we ended on a positive note: delivering the many signed petitions we have supporting birth control as a preventative service to the Department of Health and Human Services. The recent IOM recommendation was a boon for women’s health care: let’s ensure we keep moving forwards, and not backwards.

Update: More about the rally in this NPR story.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Access Matters

It’s been an incredible and incredibly busy two weeks at PPFA.

Last week saw the influx of about 600 youth and affiliate members and staff to learn more about the ongoing Medicaid fight, and to speak with their members of Congress. The entire week was a flurry of trainings on Title X, 340 B drug pricing, advocacy best tips and even international health 101. My team mostly concentrated on the 400 or so youth (high school and college) who had come in as peer educators and VOX leaders—with the theme of making the connection between local reproductive rights and the fight for global health. One of our major tools is the new Christy Turlington Burns film—more about that here. My main task was to figure out the breakout sessions around that and to also put together an advocacy toolkit we can roll out on college campuses this coming fall. I was overall very impressed with both the knowledge of the crowd and the overall commitment to Planned Parenthood’s mission—I wish I had been so involved when I was in high school.

Since the conference, my work has concentrated mostly on gearing up for the upcoming fights on UNFPA defunding and global gag rule imposition. Various bills and reauthorizations are coming down the pipeline, and we are expecting a number of anti-choice provisions to be introduced either as amendments or as bill language.

This morning, PPFA staff was privileged to tour a local PP health facility to gain a better understanding of what, exactly, our affiliates do. Security is an even bigger deal there than it is here at HQ—as we were filing in, a large mass of likely protesters began congregating outside the doors. It makes your heart break for the (mostly women) who have to walk by these protesters and endure their taunts just to get access to birth control or to get an STI test—which is what the vast majority of these particular clinic’s services are (see graph below). It drove home in black and white how much of a social justice issue access to birth control really is.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Lots to do this week!

This week will be an extremely busy one at the DC PPFA offices! Hopefully I will get a chance to update throughout the week.

A note on pictures/activity specifics: understandably, PPFA needs to be very cautious re pictures/specific details on projects/etc., as there are many anti-choice groups out there and security is appropriately tight. Nevertheless, I hope to be able to share visually some of the activities from the week...stay tuned!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

The perks of being an intern...

A lot is happening in the world of Planned Parenthood, and I could not be more excited to be a part of it. Somehow, throughout the continued attempts to restrict women’s health care, PPFA rallies at the last minute to ensure that essential services are preserved. Last week, in the midst of the attempted shutdown of abortion clinics in Kansas, we actually got to meet and have lunch with the amazing staff attorneys involved in “impact legislation” for Planned Parenthood. These are the women joining the doctors and nurses administering care on the front lines, filing lawsuits on behalf of Planned Parenthood and their clients every time a state legislature passes a law that may be unconstitutional. We also got a sneak peek behind the scenes at the Kansas fight and the kinds of “licensing requirements” with which the clinics were supposed to comply—which were indicative of the state legislature’s political stance against Planned Parenthood, rather than licensing concerns (more about that in the HuffPo article linked to above).

For now, at least, women of Kansas and mid-Missouri will be able to continue to access services. For me, these intern lunches present an amazing opportunity to hear from women who have spent their lives defending not just a woman’s right to choose, but a woman’s ability to access affordable health care.

And yesterday? We met and spoke with Cecile Richards. It was AMAZING. More on that...and what I'm actually doing in a later post!