First, a little context. Tomorrow is the March for Life in DC. (And Mike Pence is marching… Big shocker). This march will be in stark contrast to the Women’s March, which, instead of seeking to empower women, seeks to strip away our power to choose what we do with our bodies.

(Quick side note — Trump said he was pro-life with Tim Russert in 1999.)

So today, we’re going to spend a few minutes revisiting the facts about abortion in the U.S. We’re also going to share information about Planned Parenthood, which is at serious risk of getting defunded. It’s big time folks. They could lose it this time. So, here we go.

Federal Abortion Policy. While the Hyde amendment prevents federal dollars from being spent on abortions (with limited exceptions), there is no law preventing local jurisdictions from spending their own money to assist low-income women access the care they need. But the federal government itself provides no money spent on abortions.
But it gets worse…  Congress has authority over Washington’s DC’s budgets and laws. This means that anything passed by the local government or voted on by the District’s residents is subject to Congressional approval. Washington, DC is the bluest jurisdiction in the country, which means that the local government is often at odds with Republican lawmakers who wish to assert their morality over the District. And, as discussed in a previous post, despite contributing more federal tax dollars per person than anywhere in the US, DC has taxation without representation and can do little to fight back.

All of this background is important to know because every year, Congress votes on a bill that would strip the District’s ability to use local tax dollars to assist low-income women to access abortions. This year’s vote and passage was last week. It is usually one of the first bills proposed annually in part because of the timing of the antiabortion march. It has never passed the Senate, but there is greater anxiety around it this year because of the super majority, and because of the battle against Planned Parenthood.

So, what does Planned Parenthood do? 
Planned Parenthood does WAAY more than abortions. Here’s a quick look at some of the great services they provide. (Lots more figures on how many they serve can be found here.)

  • Birth control (They’ll even mail it to you!)
  • HIV testing
  • General health care
  • LGBTQ services
  • Men’s health
  • Morning-after pill
  • Pregnancy testing
  • STI testing
  • Cancer screening
  • Women’s health care
  • Abortion referral

And they serve LOTS of low-income women. In fact, they serve proportionally more low-income women than any other family planning center and only 3% of their budget goes to abortions. 3%!!! This is what people are so upset about! Sigh.

Aah! What can I do? Perhaps more than you think. Yes, the Republicans hold a majority, but Planned Parenthoods across the country are active. Get to know the outreach directors at your local affiliate and find out what they are doing. And, keep calling legislators about the terrific services they provide – particularly if you have received them!

Check out how fun this event was!

Here are a few other fun ways to get involved:

  • Phone banking
  • Write letters to editors
  • Host an event
  • Letter/post card writing party
  • Share your Planned Parenthood story online, at events, with Senators
  • Canvas
  • Join them at meetings during the legislative session
  • Call your representatives at the Federal and State levels
  • Collect signatures
  • Organize a condom or feminine hygiene product drive

And of course, donations. We’re providing a link here for you to make a quick donation. You might even consider giving it in honor of Tony Tinderholt, a TX State Representative, who suggested that women and providers should be charged with murder if they had an abortion. And I think it is worth providing his rationale.

“Right now, they [women] don’t make it important to be personally responsible because they know that they have a backup of ‘oh, I can just go get an abortion.’ Now, we both know that consenting adults don’t always think smartly (sic.) sometimes. But consenting adults need to also consider the repercussions of the sexual relationship that they’re gonna have, which is a child.”

Don’t worry, men, you won’t be charged. It’s just for the ladies and providers.

THIS IS ALL SO AWFUL. So today, to counter the March for Life, call, donate, or get in touch with your local Planned Parenthood for events you can attend and volunteer for. They need our help. And it’s only #FiveMinutes.