Riding the momentum from the #resistance, Planned Parenthood is 'going on the offense'
Posted February 12, 2018 3:22 p.m. EST
(CNN) — Planned Parenthood will announce on Tuesday a new campaign to help expand access to reproductive health care state-by-state, CNN has learned.
The nonprofit is working alongside state lawmakers, advocates for reproductive rights and partners -- such as the Oklahoma Coalition for Reproductive Justice, Latino Memphis in Tennessee and the Michigan Progressive Women's Caucus -- to push reproductive rights policies in more than a dozen states and DC this week. The organization, its partners, policymakers and activists plan to advance initiatives in all 50 states by the end of the year.
"This really is growing out of an unprecedented grass-roots movement across the country," Danielle Wells, Planned Parenthood's assistant director of state policy media, told CNN. "People are mobilizing, organizing and fighting back on behalf of their health and rights. We are channeling that energy into action, and really going on the offense. Now is time for us to unite together and expand reproductive health care."
This week's push includes advancing policies in Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Kansas, Maine, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, Oklahoma, Rhode Island, Tennessee, West Virginia and the District of Columbia. The policies include protections for birth control insurance coverage and bills that expand access to abortion, according to Planned Parenthood.
News of the initiative comes as anti-abortion organizations continue to call on lawmakers to strip Planned Parenthood of federal funding. It also comes several weeks after Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards announced her plans to step down in 2018.
Last April, President Donald Trump signed a bill that allows states to withhold federal money from organizations that provide abortion services, including Planned Parenthood. Last month, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence addressed thousands of anti-abortion-rights attendees at the annual March for Life via video feed.
Trump was the first sitting president to address the march, which has taken place every year since 1974. During his speech, he touted his administration's anti-abortion policies, which he said "are protecting the sanctity of life."
Thousands of anti-abortion activists flocked to Washington for the event, which usually aligns with the anniversary of the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision recognizing a legal right to abortion.
Meanwhile, activists for abortion rights continue to protest the Trump administration's agenda.
The Guttmacher Institute wrote in a recent report that 2017 "may be most notable for a dramatic upsurge in proactive efforts to expand access to abortion, contraception, other reproductive health services and comprehensive sex education or to protect reproductive rights."
"During the year, 21 states adopted 58 new proactive measures, a sharp increase from the 28 enacted in 2016," according to the report. "The new measures adopted in 2017 include 12 on abortion, 35 on contraception and 11 on issues such as sex education."
Last year, hundreds of women's rights activists protested at their state capitols -- everywhere from Texas to Ohio -- while sporting red robes and white bonnets inspired by the outfits in "The Handmaid's Tale." Margaret Atwood's 1985 novel, which Hulu adapted into a popular TV series last year, takes place in a dystopia called the Republic of Gilead, a totalitarian society formerly known as the US where a class of women called the handmaids are subjugated for reproduction.
Planned Parenthood is hoping to ride the resistance momentum from the past year.
"We've already seen the power of the historic grass-roots movement that's growing nationwide," Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement. "It beat back bad health care repeal bills three times in Congress, and helped to keep Planned Parenthood's doors open. Now, together with our partners, we are fighting forward for people's health and rights, state by state, bill by bill."