Planned Parenthood gears up for new battles over abortion rights

Just days after Iowa's Republican governor signed the most restrictive abortion law in the country, Planned Parenthoo...

Posted: May 7, 2018 4:05 PM
Updated: May 7, 2018 4:05 PM

Just days after Iowa's Republican governor signed the most restrictive abortion law in the country, Planned Parenthood is announcing what it says is its largest volunteer training event ever.

Kelley Robinson, the National Organizing Director at Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said the July training event, called The Power of Pink, will bring together 3,000 activists and leaders in Detroit and give them various resources for going back into their communities to then build upon the organization's network.

"Being in Detroit is a really intentional thing for us," Robinson said, describing the city as a "beacon for progressivism."

The organization has already been working to develop its grassroots efforts in various states, using programs like the Raiz initiative, described on the Planned Parenthood website as a "national effort to work with the Latino community on fights for reproductive health, sex education, and access to care."

Melissa Garcia, a manager of the Raiz program, said the training will be tailored for the individuals who attend and that it's a culmination of many years of organizing.

Planned Parenthood Action Fund, the organization's political arm, has already been active in various midterm elections endorsing candidates.

The legislation that was passed in Iowa, dubbed "the heartbeat bill," prohibits doctors from performing an abortion if a fetal heartbeat is detected. Fetal heartbeats can be detected as early as six weeks into a pregnancy.

Planned Parenthood said in a statement it planned sue the state over the legislation.

"We're seeing more and more state politicians emboldened to advance extreme policies, regardless of how many people it hurts," Dawn Laguens, the executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said in a statement last week. "We're also seeing a groundswell of organizing and action that only continues to grow. People will not stand for it. Now is the time for us to unite and fight for every person's right to access the care they need."

Last week, three Planned Parenthood affiliates sued the Trump administration over Title X, a decades-old federal program that provides birth control and other reproductive health care services to millions of low-income people each year. The Title X lawsuits, filed last Wednesday in the federal district court of the District of Columbia, seek to block funding changes that could financially hurt organizations like Planned Parenthood.

In Wisconsin, where more than 70% of counties are experiencing a shortage of health care providers, there are seven counties for which Planned Parenthood is the only option for Title X care, said Tanya Atkinson, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, one of the three affiliates to file suit (the others are in Utah and Ohio), CNN previously reported.

"Planned Parenthood is going to court to stop the Trump-Pence administration from trying to impose its ideology on people," Laguens said in a statement. "Our bodies are our own and shouldn't be at the mercy of the Trump-Pence administration. We are going to court to fight for our patients' health and rights - and for the millions of people in this country who need to access quality reproductive health care."

Lilyana Prejo Vanegaf is one of the Planned Parenthood volunteers who said she plans to attend the training this summer, and said she hopes to gain access to tools that will help her mobilize ahead of upcoming elections.

"I'm just really pumped," she said, describing the organization as an anchor in her community.

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