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Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Reflects On Largest Ever Gathering Of Volunteers

J. Scott Applewhite
AP Images

Over 1000 activists for women’s reproductive rights gathered at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center for a seminar titled the Power of Pink recently. The crowd of primarily young women and men in attendance gathered to share ideas and strategize how best to organize and rally support for Planned Parenthood facilities and the politicians who protect reproductive rights.

This seminar was part of Planned Parenthood’s calls for voters to #PinkOutTheVote, which they describe as an attempt to keep reproductive rights from sliding backwards in the face of backlash and conservative rhetoric in this electoral season.

This gathering was the largest and most diverse in Planned Parenthood’s 100 years of operation. This comes as no surprise to Cecile Richards, the President of Planned Parenthood who spoke at the rally on the final day of the seminar. Richards says that the majority of voters in the US are supportive of access to safe abortions and family planning care.

“Everyone needs [reproductive health care] regardless of their party identification, their gender, their background,” says Richards.

Although reproductive care is a need for many, it’s not supported by all. Planned Parenthood has been a controversial and targeted group for all 100 years it has been around. In the past year, a group of individuals released a heavily edited video accusing Planned Parenthood of selling fetal tissue.

Not only did a Texas Grand Jury clear Planned Parenthood of all charges, but the two main individuals behind the footage were indicted for a number of charges related to the footage. Richards says unfortunately for those opposed to Planned Parenthood, the attacks on the integrity of the organization has had a perhaps surprising result.

“Unfortunately we are used to being under attack by those people in this country who would like to end access to safe and legal abortions and access to birth control as well,” says Richards. “One of the unintended consequences of these attacks on us and our patients and our clinics is the rallying of young people.”

Richards says that many millennial voters are not just tolerant of, but enthusiastically believe in the mission of Planned Parenthood.

“That’s what we stand for at Planned Parenthood, just making sure every woman has a right to the best medical care possible,” says Richards.

Victories of Planned Parenthood include the inclusion of free birth control within the Affordable Care Act as well as historic 30 and 40 year lows for unintended pregnancies among both teenage and adult women.

Threatening these victories are attempts and successful defunding endeavors by various state legislators including those in Ohio. Texas is a place where Richards reports that the defunding forced many facilities to shutter their doors. As more clinics closed, the rate of unintended pregnancies has risen in Texas.

Richards hopes that the millennial voter block, the largest in this election, will lead the country towards more progressive and productive politicians. The attendees of the weekend’s seminar, she believes, are a good start.

“They all went back to their states, fired up and ready to go for the next five months.”

More Essential Pittsburgh segments can be heard here.

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