#WeArePP: Our Stories from AK to AZ is a blog series in which we profile supporters and advocates from across the country and every corner of our Planned Parenthood community. This week we sat down with Joe Sack, a Planned Parenthood supporter who’s here to talk about why reproductive justice isn’t “just a women’s cause.”
Meet Joe Sack. He was born and raised in Ohio, he works at a nonprofit, and he’s committed to community service. And, like a lot of us, Joe and his wife Allie wanted to get more involved during the 2016 election. Enter Planned Parenthood Advocates of Ohio.
“We wanted to help campaign and get involved, so we did that through Planned Parenthood,” said Sack, who recently relocated to the West Coast. “When you’re in a place like Cincinnati, where we lived at the time, you need to find your people if you’re more of a progressive person. For me, Planned Parenthood seemed like a good place to start.”
Throughout the hectic election season, Joe was volunteering for Planned Parenthood regularly — often out protesting or rallying. He describes his fellow supporters as “extremely energized.” Together, they delivered petitions, canvassed, and even camped outside Ohio politicians’ offices to demand that health care be protected.
Joe and other Planned Parenthood supporters at a honk-and-wave in Cincinnati after Gov. Kasich's signed a 20-week abortion ban.
He credits Allie and his mother with pushing him to fight for reproductive rights.
“My mom from a very early age encouraged me to get involved with the community. I remember going to social justice marches with her and working at food banks. She also started a community garden way before it was popular,” Joe said. “And my wife, she’s the one that really opened the door for me for a lot of things. Together, we got really involved in activist work with repro rights and justice.”
From right to left: Joe, Allie, America Ferrera, and Stephanie Kollman-Baker.
Read more of our interview with Joe below.
Planned Parenthood Action Fund: Why is it so important for men to fight for reproductive health and rights?
Joe Sack: I’ve been to many Planned Parenthood rallies, and the truth is that a lot of the time, men are really underrepresented. I struggle with the lack of representation of men in this cause. The thing that drives me crazy is when people say that this is “just a women’s cause.”
I really, strongly believe that any man who says they “respect women” should consider getting involved with reproductive rights. I don’t understand how you could not see that reproductive rights are about women making their choices and having autonomy.
Joe's "crew" of fellow supporters in Cincinnati.
PPAF: There have been a lot of attacks on Planned Parenthood recently. The Trump administration recently reversed the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit. How do you think Planned Parenthood supporters can fight back against this threat?
JS: One of the lessons I’ve learned is that a lot of progressive movements, including reproductive rights groups, have become really used to being on the defense. I think we need to push back, switching from defense to offense. We need to make it so that the opposition has to worry about enacting their legislation.
Also, we need to elect more proactive legislators on the state and municipal levels who will fight for things like birth control. I recently got to meet Gov. Kate Brown. It was so awesome to meet her, shake her hand, and thank her for the work she’s done. She’s a good example of a legislator who’s gone on the offense.
PPAF: What is something you wish people knew about the fight for reproductive rights?
JS: Reproductive rights is a multi-faceted issue. I work at a nonprofit that works with immigrants and refugees. I work with people every single day who were forced to drop out of school, or the workforce, because they need to provide child care. Their situations might be different if they had had access to basic preventative health care.
Joe and other supporters at a protest against Donald Trump's attacks on DACA.
PPAF: Do you have a Planned Parenthood patient story? If so, do you feel comfortable sharing?
JS: I personally don’t, but there have been many times where I’ve had friends and family relying on Planned Parenthood. Sometimes for routine medical care, sometimes for birth control, sometimes for abortion. It’s just a part of life.
Joe and friends sporting Planned Parenthood pink shirts.
PPAF: Do you have a favorite moment of political organizing?
JS: There was nothing more energizing than the Women’s March. We made the trek in and it was phenomenal. It was a really energetic moment.
Joe and other Cincinnati supporters at the Women's March in Washington, D.C.
PPAF: When you go to rallies, do you have any favorite chants or cheers?
JS: I really like the one where women chant, “My body! My choice!” and then men follow with, “Her body! Her choice!” I really dig that one. I think it’s really pertinent one, coming from men. The other one I really liked is directed at Trump: “We will not go away, welcome to your first day.”
PPAF: Anything else you’d like to add?
JS: Mad shoutout to the Planned Parenthood team in Cincinnati. They’re a great crew with a ton of spirit.
Joe decked out in pink at the Women's March.