Standing Up: Planned Parenthood Style
Someday I will have the time, or take the time, to write an essay or sermon about how everything I know about being in an effective empowering and “mattering” organization I learned in my time working as a director of government and community relations for Planned Parenthood. It is so true. But today I am focusing on a line in a message published in the program of the annual Living Legends Gala, which Planned Parenthood(PP) Southeast held this year in the Georgia Aquarium with sharks and fish species swimming by, keeping their watch on the 400 people gathered there.
In a joint statement by their energetic (and very funny) President Staci Fox and board chair Melinda Cooper Holladay, they thanked their donors, volunteers, and staff for “always standing up, being brave and caring, no matter what.” No matter what. And this year the “no matter what” has been, as always, wave after wave of legislation and court decisions undermining the reproductive freedom gains of the past, continuing familiar and discouraging chips away of true access and true choice.
Just this week the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that a New York Times editorial declared “bogus.” The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act that asserts that “ an unborn child is capable of experiencing pain at least by 20 weeks after fertilization.” Medical evidence does not support this.
This ban on abortions after 20 weeks only make exceptions if the mother’s life is endangered—not her health—or for rape victims who have received counseling or medical care at least 48 hours before the procedure. It does not allow for terminations for fetal abnormalities, some of which are not tested for or detectable until later in a pregnancy.
Along with 32 other faith-based organizations, the UU Women’s Federation signed on to a letter to House members opposing this piece of legislation. In it, we opposed what we see as a ban on abortion care based on arbitrary gestational limits, “that would block a woman’s access to safe health care and deny her the ability to make decisions according to her own beliefs and conscience.” We called on the people representing us in Congress to reinforce and not erode the religious values that guide our organization’s compassion, support, and respect for a woman and her family facing this decision and to provide safe and legal access to whatever care she feels is necessary and best in her situation.
Besides medical conditions affecting both the woman and fetus, this includes difficulty in traveling to clinics—made even more likely now in places like Texas that have placed formidable, in fact mostly impossible, strictures on the clinics which used to provide these procedures. The barriers also include mandated waiting periods and insurance limitations.
These kinds of measures have been introduced and re-introduced in the decades since Roe V. Wade, and this one will most likely be either defeated in the Senate or vetoed by the President.
Still they come and come and take so much time and energy to combat.
No matter what Planned Parenthood, both nationally and on the local level, keeps focused on the mission. To expand access to health care. To provide medically accurate sex education. To advocate for the reproductive rights of all people. They do it by serving thousands of clients, offering education outreach, and encouraging activism.
The mission of the UUWF is to advance justice for women and girls, and to promote their spiritual growth. PP holds what they call “mission-driven” events to promote and affirm their purpose. What might we do as we stand up, be brave and caring, no matter what?