By Ahna Wayne Aposhian
At the beginning of this month, the Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund and Congresswoman Katherine Clark gathered local community members in the Winthrop Public Library to thank Congresswoman Katherine Clark for the many years she has been a champion of the organization—and to speak out against the most recent attacks on Planned Parenthood.
I’ve been a passionate, if slightly anxious, volunteer ever since I attended the Sexual Health Lobby Day in June. I’ve spent months, years even, feeling scared as I watched my government pass policies that would restrict my bodily autonomy. But here I was, finally able to show up and put my time to good use.
This event was both an empowering and sobering experience. Though many of the attendees knew each other and took the opportunity to mingle and chat, there was a sense of done-this-all-before exasperation in the air. One of the first women to arrive wasn’t shy about this frustration. “I fought this fight 40, 50 years ago,” she said to me, shaking her head. “I never thought I’d still be at it all this time later. We did it so our daughters didn't have to, but here I am anyway.” Later, an audience member stood and voiced a similar opinion. “Why does it feel like we’re moving backward?” she asked. “What’s changed? Why are we losing ground?”
Congresswoman Clark had much to say about this same topic. “The anti-woman, anti-woman's health care, and anti-Planned Parenthood rhetoric is absolutely real,” she affirmed. “But it's not just rhetoric. There's persistent action being taken to defund, to spread mistruths, and to really disempower women.” How shocking—and refreshing—to hear such blunt, honest truths aimed at a topic that most tiptoe around! Congresswoman Clark was giving voice to truths I had long suspected. She noted that the “systemic, unrelenting” attack from the extreme right wasn't just about abortion. For women, “it's about trying to take away our role, our voice, and our ability to make decisions for ourselves. That's what's at stake here,” she stressed.
Congresswoman Clark also turned her attention to Planned Parenthood's support of women and families, calling on all those who had used family planning services in the past to stand up and let their voices be heard. “This is a campaign of mistruths,” she warned, “and it's spreading. It's time to stand with Planned Parenthood.
There are a lot of frightening decisions looming ahead, but I take heart knowing who is on my side. We have a knowledgeable, informed, and truly passionate advocate in Congresswoman Clark, and I am proud and happy to have been able to thank her in person. She is a political force to be reckoned with, and she made it clear to all of us that she will never stop fighting for our rights.
Fast forward to just last week when the U.S. voted to defund Planned Parenthood. I’m proud to say Congresswoman Clark, and the entire Massachusetts Congressional delegation, voted against this dangerous bill - but the bill still passed the House.
I’m going to keep raising my voice and fight back against these attacks – and I hope you will join me next Tuesday, September 29th – and pink out for Planned Parenthood!