Robin Marty [CC BY]

January 15, 2020; The Hill

Writing for The Hill, Austa Somvichian-Clausen interviews a few nonprofit leaders of their policy priorities for 2020, including Amnesty International USA and Planned Parenthood. Since NPQ writes frequently about both of these organizations, we thought it was worth highlighting what these two nonprofits’ policy priorities are. Speaking for Amnesty is Joanne Lin, national director of advocacy and government affairs. Speaking for Planned Parenthood is Jacqueline Ayers, vice president of government relations and public policy.

For Amnesty, Lin identifies the nonprofit’s top policy priorities as the following: 1) tackling the climate crisis by supporting a “human rights-centered transition to a green economy”; 2) ending gun violence with a focus on “background checks for the sale of every gun”; and 3) welcoming refugees and asylum-seekers, with a focus on “refugee resettlement and community sponsorship for refugees and helping those seeking safety establish new homes.”

For Planned Parenthood, Ayers names a number of issues, including:

  • Preserving access to legal abortion
  • Defending access to birth control and fighting the Trump administration’s Title X gag rule.
  • Support for sex education
  • Opposing the global gag rule affecting US international aid
  • Opposing voter suppression

Ayers notes that, “Protecting access to abortion is about more than just one court case. We also need a strong ecosystem of providers, good state-level laws, judges on the courts who will protect our rights, ways of overcoming barriers for those who are low-income or face discrimination, and reproductive rights champions holding office.”

Ayers adds that just as reproductive rights are under threat, so is sex education. “A 2016 study from researchers at the Guttmacher Institute,” Ayers points out, “found that the percentage of teens who received sex education dropped significantly over the last decade, particularly for those living in nonmetropolitan areas.”

Perhaps the most interesting response coming from Ayers was Planned Parenthood’s focus on democracy reform and voter suppression. As Ayers tells Somvichian-Clausen, Planned Parenthood sees supporting democracy reform as essential for achieving its goals of maintaining reproductive rights.

As Ayers puts it:

There is no question—democracy reform is critical. Voter suppression, from voter purges and the closing of polling places, and partisan (and often illegal) gerrymandering have left us with a small vocal minority pulling the levers of power. That’s how we end up with harmful and unpopular abortion bans—many of which disproportionately impact Black women—getting passed even though 77 percent of the American public supports access to abortion. It’s also how we see politicians push other harmful policies that hurt communities of color like mass criminalization. Reproductive justice groups on the ground have long understood this and have centered their fight for reproductive freedom around the barriers that Black women face, including voter suppression…

We need fundamental structural democracy reform to ensure that every person’s voice is counted and that communities that have too long kept from the seat of power now have a seat at the table.

—Steve Dubb