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.

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