Planned Parenthood—The Ultimate Mobilizable Constituency

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By Mark Schierbecker (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0], via Wikimedia Commons

November 16, 2016; USA Today

Even as, in a show of spontaneous support, 128,000 individual donations (as of two days ago) have poured into Planned Parenthood since the presidential election, House Republicans nearly doubled the budget for the Select Investigative Panel on Infant Lives, which is investigating the organization with an infusion of $800,000.

The panel was sparked by the undercover videos that tried to make the case that the organization was selling the tissue and organs of aborted fetuses. A grand jury in Texas that was to have considered indicting Planned Parenthood instead recommended charges be filed against the filmmaker, David Daleiden. Rep. Jan Schakowsky of Illinois, the panel’s top Democrat, called the panel a divisive and dangerous witch hunt, saying, “Congress should shut down this panel and put an end to its shameful proceedings.”

NPQ has pointed out numerous times that Planned Parenthood’s supporters are many and active, mobilizing quickly to give or advocate when the organization and women’s right to abortion comes under attack. Readers may remember the response when the Susan G. Komen Foundation declared it would defund them; now, that stands as but one among many such reactions. Supporters know the stakes right now—a Republican-controlled Congress, a seat vacant on the U.S. Supreme Court, and both the president and the vice president having declared themselves dedicated to defunding—and they are moving.

That is what democracy looks like: a base of supporters that equates your survival and success with their own value commitments. They do not wait for you to ask for their protection. Nonprofits without such an aware and committed base may want to consider working towards cultivating one for effectiveness’ sake. But remember the failures of the Susan G. Komen Foundation—that deal is reciprocal. You can never put anyone or anything ahead of those who animate and give meaning, let alone financial support, to your cause.—Ruth McCambridge