Organizational Resilience: Planned Parenthood’s Community Undeterred

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December 2, 2015; Reuters

As people look at the situation around Planned Parenthood, we hope they recognize one particular element of their enormous resilience—the support of their community. That community has had to stay vigilant, engaged, and ready for anything, and the organization has likewise had to remain accountable to them. It’s a circle of active responsibility that can be very hard to break.

In the days following a fatal attack on one of its clinics in Colorado, Planned Parenthood spoke and exuded resilience. “We aren’t going anywhere. These doors stay open,” tweeted the Planned Parenthood Twitter account on November 29th, just a few days after a shooter opened fire in a health clinic in Colorado Springs, killing three people and injuring another nine. Slowly but surely, Planned Parenthood clinics reopened around the country, not only as a message to their detractors, but also as a commitment to their patients.

Less than a week after the attack, Planned Parenthood moved forward to open a new clinic in West Hollywood near L.A. on Tuesday. While the clinic is not surrounded by the same controversy seen in other more conservative areas, the opening is a symbolic act of resistance and resilience from the Planned Parenthood community and a commitment to keeping its doors open.

The new clinic will be offering its normal range of services, from STI testing to abortions, for which the regional president of Planned Parenthood, Sue Dunlap, is making no apologies. In particular, the clinic will offer medications for HIV infections, aimed at serving the area’s gay community.

“No matter how much security we put in place hard things happen, and there’s sometimes a difference between feeling safe and being safe,” said Dunlap. “And it’s our job to work to make sure people both feel safe and are safe.”

In its aftermath, many, including Planned Parenthood officials, and Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders have blamed anti-abortion rhetoric for fueling a hateful sentiment toward Planned Parenthood. A few days ago, NPQ wrote about the dangers of individuals using such loaded language cavalierly: “That is why the ‘otherness’ talk from some politicians—talk that mocks, excludes, dehumanizes, demonizes and derides—is so incredibly dangerous, and why that talk is so incredibly important for nonprofits to actively counter.”

In reaction to the shooting, Planned Parenthood tweeted condemning the “incendiary rhetoric” that may have contributed to the shooting.

Our letter to those who would go to unimaginable lengths to close our doors. #StandWithPP https://t.co/oBXX5lNtK2 pic.twitter.com/Ao926ijI2v

— Planned Parenthood (@PPact) December 2, 2015

In addition, Planned Parenthood has also said the contentious undercover videos, which nonprofit officials argue skewed facts about fetal tissue donation, have also created a climate of retaliation, which includes some in Congress fighting to defund the organization. Whether or not the recent vitriol contributed to last Friday’s shooting, what is evident is the tremendous amount of support Planned Parenthood has received for providing health services. Clinics, other nonprofits, and individuals around the country have been tweeting pictures of themselves affirming their dedication to Planned Parenthood and its commitment to providing safe areas since the shooting.

Kansas stands with #ColoradoSprings. #StandWithPP @TheOread pic.twitter.com/aaKqLwRyME

— Planned Parenthood (@PPKM) December 1, 2015

“I will not let fear keep me from sharing my story.” https://t.co/Hu8fl1E5dr #1in3 #IStandWithPP pic.twitter.com/kCDEQlIIxN

— Advocates For Youth (@AdvocatesTweets) November 30, 2015

In #Sarasota today: “these doors stay open.” #StandWithPP @PlannedParSWCFL @PPact @CecileRichards pic.twitter.com/TQqOaUlXaA

— Anna V. Eskamani (@Anna_V_E) November 30, 2015

Planned Parenthood will open doors across the country tomorrow, bc they provide healthcare to women. Terrorists will not win. #StandWithPP

— NARAL Colorado (@NARALColorado) November 28, 2015

We proudly stand with our sister affiliate, @PPRockyMountain. No matter what. (In Chapel Hill, NC) pic.twitter.com/I4aAx0HET1

— PP South Atlantic NC (@PPSATNC) November 28, 2015

This is what commitment looks like. #StandWithPP pic.twitter.com/RvkXSukEKb

— Planned Parenthood (@PPIAction) November 28, 2015

We will never back down from providing high-quality health care in a safe, supportive environment. #StandWithPP pic.twitter.com/rd8Hnp4BtP

— ppsworegon (@ppsworegon) November 30, 2015

In the end, the support may beat the rhetoric. Despite calls to defund the organization and attacks on clinics around the country, the active support around the organization and the organization’s ability to move forward to provide services even while under attack stand as testament to a system that was built on collective will and accountability.—Shafaq Hasan