The beginning of the year is a time to celebrate. You might think that’s hard to do since 2015 saw so many attacks on reproductive health and rights — including an extreme act of violence against a Planned Parenthood health center. But as we look back at the full year, we also see a swelling of support. Advocates for reproductive freedom rose up against the hateful rhetoric that fueled violence. The reproductive rights movement showed its resilience, its strength, and its power. This is what we we’re grateful for, and what we celebrate today.
Our 2015 gratitude list is a long one. Here are 10 things at the top of the list.
1. Coming Together in Solidarity Against Violence
In the wake of tragedies in San Bernardino and at a Planned Parenthood health center in Colorado Springs, people came together to take a stand against violence. The National Day of Solidarity on Dec. 5, 2015 engaged thousands of Planned Parenthood supporters, community members and partner organizations at nearly 50 locations across the country, and millions of supporters online.
On that day, we remembered the victims of the tragedy in Colorado Springs, and we showed support for access to safe reproductive health care free from violence, threats and intimidation. We also called for an end to hateful rhetoric that has incited violence against not only Planned Parenthood, but also against the Black, immigrant, refugee, and transgender communities.
2. Standing With Planned Parenthood
In the summer of 2015, a group of extreme anti-abortion activists released heavily edited, intentionally misleading smear videos about Planned Parenthood. Immediately after — in an extraordinarly coordinated move — anti-women’s health politicians started going after Planned Parenthood patients, trying every trick in the book to block them from seeking care at Planned Parenthood. But that didn’t stop Planned Parenthood supporters, who stood up against the relentless attacks.
On Tuesday, September 29, Planned Parenthood supporters fought back with a spectacular show of support by turning their communities (and the Internet) pink — Planned Parenthood pink. Millions of volunteers rallied in support of Planned Parenthood as part of National #PinkOut Day. Supporters delivered more than 2.4 million "I Stand With Planned Parenthood" petition signatures to Congressional leaders and held nearly 300 events in 90 cities across the country.
Online, more than 500,000 people pink-ified their profile and cover photos. So many supporters posted our Thunderclap message that it reached over 7.8 million people. Meanwhile, #PinkOut trended nationally, and #StandWithPP trended internationally.
3. States Protecting Access to Care at Planned Parenthood
We’re even grateful for the outcomes of politically motivated investigations spurred by a deceptive smear video campaign: Officials in eight states (Georgia, Indiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Pennsylvania, South Dakota and Washington) have cleared Planned Parenthood affiliates of wrongdoing. In addition, seven states (Colorado, Delaware, Idaho, Iowa, Minnesota, New Hampshire, and Virginia) have declined to even investigate Planned Parenthood — finding nothing to substantiate claims of wrongdoing. As state after state clears Planned Parenthood, they demonstrate that the smear campaign was one thing: baseless.
As if that weren’t enough, two states (Alabama and Georgia) backed down from efforts to ban patients who rely on public programs from seeking care at Planned Parenthood. Meanwhile, courts blocked state efforts to bar patients from access to health care at Planned Parenthood health centers in Arkansas, Louisiana, and Utah.
4. Upholding Obamacare
In the landmark King v. Burwell case, the Supreme Court upheld a key provision of Obamacare that helps make insurance affordable in all 50 states, regardless of the type of health insurance marketplace in the state. Specifically, the ruling confirmed that low-income Americans can get subsidies for affordable coverage through the Affordable Care Act (ACA)’s federal health care exchange. It protected access to affordable health insurance for 6.4 million low- and middle-income women and families across 34 states. That includes approximately 4 million women who can now rest assured that affordable health care will not depend on their zip code.
5. Safeguarding Affordable Birth Control Coverage Nationwide
Also this year, the Obama administration issued a rule that ensures access to no-copay birth control no matter where you work. With the new rule, companies are not able to block their employees from accessing affordable birth control coverage — despite the dangerous precedent set by the Hobby Lobby case, which lets some bosses refuse to cover contraception in its employer-sponsored health insurance plan on the basis of their religious beliefs.
The Obama administration also released a statement clarifying that insurance companies must provide for ALL 18 forms of FDA-approved birth controlunder the ACA.
6. Protecting Birth Control Coverage in the States
Safeguarding affordable health care wasn’t just at the national level. Three stand-out states:
California: A new law means Californians will be able to get birth control straight from their pharmacist, without a prescription from a doctor — but while maintaining the ACA’s no-copay birth control coverage benefit.
Indiana: Notre Dame tried to restrict student access to birth control coverage — but the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit declined yet again to block Obamacare’s contraception coverage requirement for the university.
Oregon: Oregon’s governor signed a first-of-its-kind law that allows women to obtain a year’s worth of their birth control at a time; the law helps all women by making their birth control more accessible. Similar to Californians, Oregonians will soon be able to get a birth control prescription through their pharmacist.
7. Thwarting Gynoticians
In states across the country, supporters of women’s health and rights helped beat back extreme anti-abortion laws and protect women’s access to the health care they need. In particular, reproductive health advocates helped defeat laws that interfere in women’s personal health care decisions.
You know what we call politicians who think they know better than women and their doctors? Gynoticians. And here are two states that beat gynoticians at their own game:
Iowa: The Iowa Supreme Court ruled that banning telemedicine to prescribe medication abortion — a ban that doesn’t exist on any other procedure — was unconstitutional due to the undue burden it would cause women, especially in rural communities. Had the ban gone into effect, it would have ended access to safe, legal abortion outside of three cities in Iowa, forcing many women to take multiple trips of up to 400 miles.
Wisconsin: A Wisconsin court struck down a law requiring doctors who perform abortions to get admitting privileges at local hospitals, citing how the law would devastate access to safe, legal abortion in the state. The law was a type of targeted restriction on abortion providers, or TRAP law, which are often passed under the guise of protecting women’s health in order to impose medically unnecessary restrictions on abortion.
Take THAT, gynoticians!
8. Opening New Planned Parenthood Health Centers
Thanks to supporters like you, Planned Parenthood is opening new health centers — despite every obstacle in their path.
Louisiana: After fighting back extreme roadblocks, a Planned Parenthood health center started construction in New Orleans. It is set to open next year and will offer the full range of reproductive health care, including cancer screenings, birth control, STI testing/treatment, and safe and legal abortion.
North Carolina: Despite dogged attempts by anti-women’s health politicians to restrict abortion access to women across the state of North Carolina, Planned Parenthood opened its Asheville Health Center.
New York: Planned Parenthood cut the ribbon on its first Queens health center in Long Island City, Queens.
Texas: Yes, there’s more! Despite the extreme barriers to reproductive health care access in Texas, a new Planned Parenthood health center opened this year in San Antonio.
9. Advancing Sex Education in California
This year, California passed legislation that will require sex education for grades 7-12. And it’s not just any sex education: This statewide mandate is for medically accurate, age and developmentally appropriate, and inclusive sex education that covers a wide range of important topics — like teaching healthy relationships. This mandate is the closest thing the United States has to a state-level "gold standard" in sex education.
What else are we grateful for? Our amazing supporters. Thank you for standing with Planned Parenthood.
Now that opponents of women’s health are vying for the White House, we've got a lot of work ahead in 2016 to protect reproductive health and rights. It's going to take everything we've got to fight back. But we've faced tough times before, and we've learned a thing or two about our Planned Parenthood family: There is nobody stronger or more resilient. When the fight gets harder, we get fiercer.
We know we can count on you to keep standing right here with us, whatever comes next. Help make sure we're ready for what's coming by making a gift to Planned Parenthood Action Fund today.
Tags: Planned Parenthood