With federal protections for abortion potentially in greater jeopardy under a newly right-leaning Supreme Court, Planned Parenthood has unveiled a new strategy to expand and protect abortion access across the United States.
The multimillion-dollar initiative comes just days after Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation, a reliable conservative replacing frequent swing-vote Anthony Kennedy, and the second justice to ascend to the high court under Donald Trump.
“There’s really no way to sugarcoat it,” Dawn Laguens, executive vice president, Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, told reporters Wednesday morning. “With this confirmation, we are likely to see the further erosion of Roe v. Wade in the very near future.”
The organization's three-part plan, called “Care For All”, will focus on abortion access, policy, and cultural and social stigma, and will include further investment in technology and telemedicine, as well as lobbying and campaign efforts.
Planned Parenthood provides a range of services at about 600 locations, and abortion represents 3 percent of it, the group says.
In terms of access, the global reproductive healthcare organization wants to build an “ironclad” network of states with bolstered resources to compensate for the areas in the U.S., mainly in the Midwest and the South, in which women have limited options.
Seven states have just one abortion clinic left, and many states have tried to impose greater restrictions over the past few years.
“This network will leverage key states to serve as crucial access points particularly for the growing number of people who need to travel from out of state to ensure that no matter what happens that everyone in this country can access abortion,” said Rachel Sussman, national director of State Policy and Advocacy, Planned Parenthood Action Fund.” We are leaving no state behind.”
The second tier of the plan includes fighting back on policies that have already eroded a woman’s access to reproductive health care. As an example, Sussman touted that last year, “advocates and pro-women’s health legislators blocked or delayed 93 percent of the state-level abortion restrictions introduced in 38 states.”
During his campaign, then-candidate Donald Trump pledged to nominate pro-life judges to the Supreme Court who would overturn Roe vs. Wade, the landmark 1973 decision that affirmed a woman’s right to an abortion. But Roe doesn’t have to be overturned for abortion access to be curtailed. In fact, whether it’s a global gag order blocking U.S. aid to non-governmental organizations that promote or offer abortion, or increasing efforts to defund Planned Parenthood, access to abortion faces increased challenges under the Trump administration.
Fighting the cultural stigma around abortion is the third leg of the new strategy. Kevin Griffis, Planned Parenthood's vp of communications, said the organization had restructured their communications teams in order to more effectively work with the TV industry and others to combat abortion stigma. They’ve already worked with shows such as Jane the Virgin and Glee, for instance.
The organization said it began planning for aggressive action soon after Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, a staunch pro-lifer, were elected. While Planned Parenthood officials would not specify how much the initiative would actually cost, they said it would be “resource-intensive.”
Despite Kavanaugh describing Roe. v. Wade as “precedent” and GOP Sen. Susan Collins, of Maine, saying Kavanaugh believes it to be "settled law" in her Senate floor speech last week, abortion opponents celebrated his confirmation.
“The Supreme Court plays a critical role in pro-life policy and has for decades,” the president of March for Life, Jeanne Mancini, said in a statement on Oct 6. “We look forward to Justice Kavanaugh’s tenure on the bench and the impact his dedicated public service will have toward creating a country where every human life is valued and protected equally under the law.”
Cover: Supporters of Planned Parenthood react to speakers at a rally, Thursday, May 24, 2018, in New York. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)