Planned Parenthood Strikes Back: Preparing for the Worst in the Wake of Kavanaugh’s Confirmation

Planned Parenthood isn’t waiting to see if the worst has yet to come for Roe v. Wade in the wake of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court. Instead, they’re planning to launch a multi-million dollar, nationwide campaign to ensure that abortion remains accessible—even if the landmark decision legalizing it nationwide is overturned.

With Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, the odds are stacked against Roe v. Wade—but Planned Parenthood is already prepared for the worst, and under their “Care for All” campaign, they’re building an infrastructure to keep abortion accessible even if it’s no longer legal or accessible nationwide. (John Brighenti / Creative Commons)

Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Court tips the scales against Roe for the first time since it was decided in 1973; he would likely cast the fifth vote necessary to overturn the decision and give states the power, once again, to criminalize abortion providers and their patients. Kavanaugh’s record shows that he is hostile to reproductive freedoms. Should Roe be overturned, women in over 20 states across the country could lose access to safe and legal abortion overnight. According to Planned Parenthood, overturning Roe would leave over 25 million women with access to safe, legal abortion in their own state, including over 4.3 million Latina women and almost 3.5 million Black women of reproductive age.

Planned Parenthood has been preparing for such a moment since President Trump’s election in 2016. Trump ran on a platform of outlawing abortion and talked about “punishing” women who elect to undergo the procedure on the campaign trail; his administration has consistently attacked women’s access to reproductive health care and undermined their bodily autonomy.

“We know that we’ll need an ironclad network of states and providers across the country where abortion will still be legal and accessible,” Planned Parenthood executive vice president Dawn Laguens told the New York Times, “no matter what happens at the Supreme Court.”

The “Care for All” campaign, at face value, is simple: In states where abortion access is at risk, Planned Parenthood will mobilize against legislation that further restricts or outlaws abortion. In states where abortion access will likely remain in place even with Roe, they’ll work to expand access, opening more clinics and hiring more staff in order to keep them open for longer hours in order to accommodate women crossing state lines in pursuit of care. They’ll offer women traveling long distances transportation assistance through a Regional Access Network and push to expand telemedicine abortion access, in place now in 14 states, for those who can’t make the trip. The organization’s efforts will manifest first in states where abortion policies fall short of those in place along both coasts, specifically Illinois.

“In 2018 alone, advocates introduced 869 positive measures expanding reproductive health care—the highest number of policies introduced to advance reproductive rights in a single legislative session ever,” the organization noted in a press release announcing the new multi-pronged effort. “In tandem, advocates and pro-women’s health legislators blocked or delayed 93 percent of the state-level abortion restrictions introduced in the 2018 legislative session. Now, Planned Parenthood Action Fund will kick off the 2019 legislative session by doubling down on this work.”

Abortion access remains at risk even if Roe remains in place as long as a majority of Justices sitting on the Supreme Court are opposed to reproductive freedoms. Rulings in smaller cases on abortion and contraception are now likely to result in outcomes which further inhibit access, allow for obstruction and increase the burdens imposed on women seeking care.

In order to proactively shift cultural perceptions around abortion—and thus provide a buffer against further attacks on women’s reproductive rights—the organization also plans to engage with media more effectively and more often in order to smash stigma and break the silence around what is a safe and common medical procedure with widespread public support. A recent NBC/Wall Street Journal poll showed that Planned Parenthood is popular even amongst conservative voters: 57 percent of Trump voters oppose women being restricted from accessing birth control, healthcare and cancer screenings.

In advance of their 2019 campaign kick-off, Planned Parenthood is doing all they can to mobilize pro-choice voters with a 20 million dollar effort in coalition with other like-minded organizations. In total, they predict that they will engage 2.5 million voters before the midterm elections on November 6.

“We know this is a winnable fight,” the organization told the New York Times in a statement. “Each of us deserves the right to control our own bodies, including the right to decide if and when to become a parent.”

 

About

Miranda Martin is a feminist writer and activist and an editorial intern at Ms. She has written for a variety of publications and been published by The Unedit and Project Consent. Miranda recently graduated from University of Wisconsin La Crosse with a major in Interpersonal Communications and a double minor in Creative Writing and Women, Gender and Sexuality Studies. She loves to travel, read, exercise and daydream about the fall of the patriarchy.