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Here’s why Planned Parenthood Action Fund is joining the Women’s March’s 2019 #WomensWave.

By Angela Ferrell-Zabala, National Director of Strategic Partnerships, Planned Parenthood Action Fund

When I think back to the first few weeks of 2017, the awful memory of the inauguration of President Trump is thankfully eclipsed by what happened the next day. Millions of people, across the country and around the world, joined the Women’s March. The march was one of the largest mobilizations in United States history because we knew then what remains true today: we ALL have a stake in protecting and expanding sexual and reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, racial equity, immigrant rights, disability rights, and beyond.

Hand in hand with my teenage daughter, we walked speechless at the seemingly endless sea of protesters. Street after street in Washington, D.C., was filled with families, groups of coworkers and friends, and individuals with hundreds of thousands of hand-made signs — even the store and residential windows lining the street were full of them. I brought my daughter into the activism and advocacy that has defined the past 18 years of my life and, together, we learned that in all of our frustration, fear and determination, we weren’t alone. Whenever we made eye contact with another person, their grins and nods served as an affirmation from them to us and back again that we were committed to fighting for as long as it takes to protect everything we love.

After marching, we got to work: we organized, ran for office, and won.

Two years have passed and despite the unprecedented, nonstop attacks on our health and rights from the Trump-Pence administration, we’ve actually gained ground for reproductive rights. Impossible fights? Been there, won those. Together, we saved the Affordable Care Act. We’ve protected patients’ access to Planned Parenthood health centers and secured legislative victories to advance reproductive health and rights at state and national levels. We took seven state legislatures and over 300 state seats, and now we have the most diverse Congress in history. We have a majority in the House of Representatives that supports access to reproductive health care. It was more than a march — it was a symbol of our collective resistance and the catalyst for more women taking on political advocacy than ever before.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund is once again proudly joining our numerous progressive partners for the #WomensWave mobilization to protect and advance the progress we’ve made as a movement.

But we know our work fighting for equity and justice for all people cannot happen if we don’t face difficult conversations within our community head on.

FIRST: we must unequivocally reaffirm that there is no place for anti-Semitism, racism, homophobia, transphobia, or any kind of bigotry in our communities, our movement, and our country. 

Specifically: Louis Farrakhan’s anti-Semitic, homophobic and transphobic remarks stand in opposition to our commitment to equity and justice and the work Planned Parenthood health centers do everyday to provide non-judgmental, quality health care to anyone who needs it.

Bigotry is not just rhetoric that makes people feel uncomfortable. It creates deep emotional wounds, it reflects and bolsters oppression that impedes our ability to thrive, and it sparks violent actions that endangers and claims lives. We won’t compromise on something that hurts Planned Parenthood patients, staff, supporters, and communities.

SECOND: we understand the disappointment of many Planned Parenthood supporters that a rebuke of Louis Farrakhan’s remarks did not come sooner, and are encouraged that the Women’s March has since reaffirmed its unequivocal rejection of bigotry in all its forms and restated that there is no place for it in the progressive movement.

As a health care provider committed to providing all people with quality, affordable health care, Planned Parenthood has a responsibility to advocate for its patients, and this decisio n was not made lightly. In deciding to join the #WomensWave, we had several open and honest conversations with the national leadership of the Women’s March and sought the guidance of several progressive Jewish and LGBTQ partner organizations, as well as faith leaders.

After these necessary and sometimes difficult discussions, we are confident that the values of the Women’s March, as they are now clearly stated, are aligned with the values of Planned Parenthood. We are heartened that the Women’s March’s intersectional and updated policy agenda continues to center women of color and expands to include a wide range of religions and faith traditions. And we will continue to work with the Women’s March to hold ourselves and each other accountable to the Unity Principles that are the basis of our partnership.

THIRD: this conversation isn’t over. It can’t be. Anything less than continuing to discuss, call out, and take action on bigotry in all its forms — whenever and wherever we see it would be counter to our values. 

We know the Women’s March continues to have some of these difficult and breakthrough conversations with leaders in Jewish and LGBTQ communities, and we are excited about that important and ongoing work.

Some people will choose to join the march in Washington, D.C.; some will attend their regional marches and uplift the power of local organizing; some will choose to march with other organizations; and some will choose not to march at all for myriad reasons. No matter what you decide, I know we are all aligned in our shared belief that this movement must be firm and resolute in our support of each other — that includes fighting together against the forces that oppress us all, including homophobia and transphobia, anti-Semitism and Islamophobia, white supremacy and anti-Blackness, ableism, and the vilification of poor people, immigrants, and refugees.

This solidarity is more important than ever as the Trump-Pence administration doubles down on its attacks:

  • Less than 24 hours after voters spoke at the polls, the Trump-Pence administration released new rules that would allow employers to deny workers birth control coverage.
  • The administration also released a policy that weakens Title IX protections for sexual assault survivors, increases protections for those accused of sexual assault, and lessens the responsibilities that schools have to protect their students.
  • They’re trying to dismantle Title X, a program meant to ensure that people struggling to make ends meet can still access birth control, STD testing, cancer screenings, and other essential health care.

We can't back down. And we won't.

In November, women — particularly Black women and other women of color — voted for candidates who promised to boldly advocate for our rights. Now we are going to hold them to those promises.

We are going to pass policies and legislation that protect and expand access to reproductive health care. We are going to continue to advocate for people in our communities and protect our fundamental human rights.

And we’re going to do it together.

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