500+ Youth and Elected Officials Stand Up for Women's Health During Largest Planned Parenthood Youth Conference Yet
Washington, DC ─ Today, as part of the Planned Parenthood Generation Action biennial national youth conference, over 500 young leaders from diverse backgrounds and across the country rallied on the Hill with Planned Parenthood Action Fund President Cecile Richards and Congressional champions of reproductive freedom Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Senator Al Franken (D-MN), Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Representative Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), and Representative Alma Adams (D-NC).
“More than any generation before, these young leaders understand that reproductive rights are human rights. They are leading the way toward a more diverse, a more just, and a more progressive future in this country and around the world,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. “Politicians across the country have been working overtime to restrict access to birth control, sex education, and safe, legal abortion – which is why we are here to walk the halls of Congress and make our voices heard.
“Together with our eight million supporters across the country, the young leaders of Planned Parenthood Generation Action will continue to fight for reproductive freedom – today and tomorrow, in communities across the country. These young people are building the world they want to live in, and I am proud to be standing with them.”
The 2015 Planned Parenthood Generation Action conference (July 8-11) welcomes over 500 young leaders from 43 states and diverse backgrounds to Washington, DC. Throughout the conference, they will build a national network centered on reproductive freedom, learn from movement leaders, meet with their elected officials on the Hill, and define Planned Parenthood’s Youth Agenda for the coming year. This year’s conference is the largest gathering yet.
Rep. DeLauro told the crowd, “We need to say loud and clear that politicians have no business meddling in [women’s] decisions. The bottom line is that we have to trust women and the choices they make for themselves and their families. Women need champions like you, and right now they need you more than ever. ”
Sen. Blumenthal reminded attendees, “The real battleground today is in the states where you live. Let’s make sure the Planned Parenthood generation carries all of our generations into the future.”
Sen. Boxer said, “I am confident, looking at your faces, that we will not let them turn back the clock – and we will make progress for women and their families.”
Rally speakers focused on the need to repeal the Hyde Amendment and the Global Gag Rule, on the threat to Title X family planning and the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program’s sex education funding, on access to contraception and abortion, and on reducing sexual assault and supporting survivors. Attendees participated in a chant (“We are unstoppable, another world is possible!”) before heading to meetings with their elected representatives.
Speaking to the crowd, youth leader Shireen Nori said, “As a young person who has been involved with Planned Parenthood for almost eight years – since I was 14 – I can honestly say that this organization has truly transformed my life. Planned Parenthood is where I learned what feminism is, where I learned about my sexual health because my parents didn’t discuss it with me, a place where I saw women of color rising up for their communities and creating the space to speak for themselves. Over the years, I’ve been a peer educator, a patient, and an advocate with Planned Parenthood. Today, I’m here with all of you to urge our leaders to stand with us. Every one of us here today makes this movement a reality – and we are truly a force to be reckoned with.”
Said conference attendee and co-chair of Planned Parenthood’s Young Leaders Advisory Council Zach Benson, “Our country has made a lot of progress toward equality, but we’re not there yet. Women and the LGBTQ community make up a majority in the U.S., and yet are still fighting for the basic human right of autonomy over one's body. As a young, straight man, I believe there is no freedom until we are all equal.”
The Planned Parenthood Generation Action conference is designed to give young leaders the skills, tools, and resources to continue building and leading the movement for sexual and reproductive freedom in communities across the country. The conference is geared toward 18- to 24-year-olds who have engaged with Planned Parenthood as volunteers and who have shown a commitment to working to achieve reproductive freedom -- including both college students and non-college young leaders and recent high school graduates from our teen programs. Attendees are in DC this week to learn, have fun, make their voices heard, and bring this experience home to make an impact on their campuses, communities, and online.
About Planned Parenthood Generation Action:
Planned Parenthood Generation Action — with more than 250 campus groups across the country — is harnessing the power, energy, and enthusiasm of young people to fight for reproductive freedom and for fundamental justice for all.
In the midst of unprecedented attacks on sexual and reproductive health care and rights — including access to safe and legal abortion — the number of Planned Parenthood chapters on college campuses has more than doubled in the past few years, and the Planned Parenthood Generation Action network has expanded to include teen advocates, non-college youth, and individual young leaders.
The Planned Parenthood Generation is a movement of passionate, committed young people across identities and issues who organize with, by, and for their generation in order to achieve sexual and reproductive freedom and change the world. This generation of leaders understands that reproductive freedom also means fighting for economic justice, LGBTQ liberation, racial justice, and more. Find out how you can get involved at www.plannedparenthoodgenaction.org.
Photo credit: Jennifer Graylock