November 15, 2016; Business Insider
Donating to a cause you support is one of many ways to make a political statement. This campaign does double duty, raising money in advance for an organization that’s almost certainly in for a rocky road while at the same time letting supporters know they must be on alert. Us Weekly reports that:
Women are donating to health care and abortion provider Planned Parenthood in [Vice President-Elect] Mike Pence’s name as a way to protest against his antiabortion stance. The movement started after artist Bethany Cosentino posted an Instagram on Saturday, November 12th, revealing that each time a donation to the organization is made in the VP-elect’s name, he’ll get an alert.
As of yesterday, Planned Parenthood Federation of America had received 80,000 new donations, with at least some of these emanating from this campaign, Of all the nonprofits whose work is at risk over the next six months, Planned Parenthood has perhaps the highest profile. And although its profile is matched with a phenomenal capacity for rapid mobilization, the political landscape is very dangerous for this women’s health care anchor institution.
Throughout his campaign, Donald Trump has declared he would reduce or eliminate federal funding to Planned Parenthood and vowed at least a partial dismantling of the Affordable Care Act which requires contraceptive coverage. So, when he was elected along with Pence, his more dyed-in-the-wool pro-life running mate, women were put on alert very quickly. Since then, Trump has committed to nominating pro-life candidates for the Supreme Court. Pence has a long history of aggression toward Planned Parenthood, which became a trending topic on social media with over 70,000 posts on Twitter alone and the hashtag #WeWon’tGoBack. Women advised their friends to get an IUD while they still could under the ACA. Donations flooded Planned Parenthood, both in honor of Hilary Clinton and in some cases ironically dedicated to Vice President-Elect Mike Pence.
What might this mean for women and, indirectly, their partners? For starters, in an interview with CBS, Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood, indicated that 55 million women would lose access to affordable preventive care if Trump gets rid of Obamacare. Further, repealing the Affordable Care Act would mean that insurance companies would no longer be required to offer contraceptive coverage and women would have to pay for birth control out of pocket. According to Planned Parenthood, depending on the variety, birth control pills can cost up to $600 per year—a prohibitive cost for many women.
In fact, many women turn to Planned Parenthood for affordable or free birth control among a myriad other health services from cancer screenings to routine mammograms. If the Trump administration has its way, funding for Planned Parenthood would be drastically cut. Last year, a bill introduced by Congress would have prevented Planned Parenthood from receiving $500 million in federal funds. The bill was blocked; however, with a Republican majority in the House, it is probable that this could come under fire once again.
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In September, the Obama administration signed a proposed rule that prohibits states from excluding providers from Title X grants unless there are doubts about “a provider’s ability to deliver services to program beneficiaries in an effective manner.” Title X funding allows states to enter into contracts with clinics to ensure low-income families can engage in family planning. The one-sentence regulatory amendment was proposed in response to some states’ refusal to enter into contracts with Planned Parenthood clinics; this new rule would thwart states from defunding Planned Parenthood under the guise of preventing state money from paying for abortion services.
While we won’t know exactly how the Trump administration will handle the Affordable Care Act or Planned Parenthood until next year, we do know that Trump was very vocal about his stance on these services during his campaign. We also know that the ultraconservative Pence has aggressively tried to defund Planned Parenthood as well as limit abortion services. Lastly, we know that Planned Parenthood is determined to keep its doors open. As Richards commented last week following the Trump election:
Every morning, Planned Parenthood health center staff across the country wake up and open their doors, as they have this morning, to care for anyone who needs them, regardless of race, religion, sexual orientation, gender, income, or country of origin. They will do so today, they will do so tomorrow, they will do so every day as they have for 100 years.
And many happy returns, if we have anything to say about it.
Meanwhile, the ACLU has experienced a precedent-setting wave of new support both in terms of donations and alert and social media signups.
“This is the greatest outpouring of support for the ACLU in our nearly 100-year history, greater than the days after 9/11. All of this support will be put to good use protecting the rights of all Americans,” [ACLU Executive Director] Anthony Romero said in a statement. “Immediately, we are working across the country to protect the rights of protestors and ensuring those who voice their concerns know their rights. We are also analyzing the civil liberties records of potential high-ranking federal appointees.”
This is what democracy looks like.—Sheela Nimishakavi and Ruth McCambridge