Planned Parenthood’s Day of Action is this Saturday, September 14th. It calls for women around the country to stand up and resist the string of abortion bans passed in several states this past May.
Since I left my operations manager job in June, I have been committed to join the nonprofit community. Fed up with the utter disregard of data and logic in public policy, I was also fed up with my limited action regarding a cause I cared so deeply about. In college, I had interned with Planned Parenthood and thought fondly of those days passing out condoms, educating students on available resources, and reaching out to the community through phone banks and community events. My internship was cut short because I ended up studying abroad in Barcelona. The year earlier, I had passed up an opportunity to intern with the Feminist Majority Foundation so I could, again, study abroad.
A pattern emerges. If I had not opted for travel both of those times, I would be neck-deep in the fight for reproductive justice by now. Instead, I am an observer, and that’s luckier than it sounds. I’ve been able to work most times and usually had health insurance. I also live in southern California where Planned Parenthood clinics have been readily available. But in fact, being lucky and privileged doesn’t create the observer. I observe because, like most of society, I am caught up. My daily grind, hobbies, family, friends, entertainment.
The first principle of emergent strategy in organizing is that small is good and small is all. This means that your small actions everyday create the whole and ultimately create an organizing, ownership mindset. When I received a Planned Parenthood text offering free training for supporters who want to get involved, I jumped to take the 1.5-hour online training. There was valuable information, like the principles of emergent strategy, but when I searched for events near me, the closest one was Utah. Liberal California does not have any events set up for the Day of Action. There is nothing yet planned to show prochoice advocates and representatives where we stand. This also displays an invisible amount of support for our sisters in Utah, Alabama, Georgia, Missouri, and others.
Disappointed, I decided to spread word about the event on Instagram in hopes of attracting enough like-minded passion to gather a group of demonstrators for Saturday. The engagement was weak; I received under 15 likes and 0 comments. That post had no action, but there were tons of action for upcoming show notices, comedy routines, and Instagram influencers selling their products or preaching their truths. Their talent and drive are no less impressive or inspiring, yet it felt incredibly disconnected from current events where people, not just women, are losing their rights.
The avid ignorance we live is supplied, or at the least, supported, by the modern-day trap. We are bombarded with information. We consume news on the daily, or rather by the minute, as we hang by our connections to our phones, regular pop culture stations, and routine methods of mastering the day. Many of us do not seek out the information to act on the abuses against us or our neighbors. The information is not hard to find; it simply does not jump off the screen like your favorite artist’s latest American tour or the independent comedic actor cleverly mocking the status quo. Many times, the information that can truly have an impact on us is smothered by attractive people displaying the hottest fads in make-up and fashion.
A faded (or jaded) pink with block letters with the excitement of a copy machine company has no character, no wow factor to engage and, thus, inform. It sounds silly to slap on a trendy 90’s style sticker, but it would probably boost views and, thus, visibility.
It was disturbing to find a petition on whitehouse.gov from May 2019 addressing the constitutionality of the Alabama abortion laws that passed. The goal was 100,000 signatures against the ban. Only about 1% of that goal was met.
I’m not proud. An issue that has been so hotly discussed among my female friends was not getting the time of the day on direct feedback tools provided to us by the White House. Despite the uproar on social media and conversations at the round table, an easy opportunity to click and inform our representatives was unequivocally dropped. How many more opportunities continue to be missed?
There are many ways to get involved.
- Contact Planned Parenthood Action Fund to attend
events near you, stay updated on state litigation regarding bans, and receive
training to become an organizer in your area
- Volunteer at Planned Parenthood and other low-income healthcare providers
- Volunteer as a clinic escort
- Contact your representatives at the local and state levels.
- Sign petitions, and let your voice be heard
Mainly, pay attention. If you do not approve of an abortion ban or other policy, seek out the resources to speak up and stand out. Our world has become accustomed to the human rights abuses that happen every day, and it’s scary to recognize how far we have come to know yet still ignore the need to act. It is much like our response to shootings, global warming disasters, and indiscriminate black murders by law enforcement.
Now, publicizing information is not merely enough. It must flash, wow, awe, so that it is mobile-accessible and visually stunning. A sad and desperate truth that calls on each of our own decisions and questions how we show up every day. It is critical, starting with the small, to take ownership of our decisions and assess if we are truly doing all that we can to advance the cause.
Anti-abortion bans are currently blocked in Alabama and Missouri with a dangerous bill in the works in Arkansas. Last month, Planned Parenthood was forced out of Title X funding. Hundreds of health clinics, beyond those with Planned Parenthood, risk shutting down if they do not isolate themselves from abortion-related services.
Planned Parenthood’s Day of Action will come and go, yet the ongoing fight for reproductive rights continues, even at the sight of trends or memes. It will take personal accountability to levels that our dedicated social media timelines never asked of us. This is not a time to scroll and like or even post and gripe; it is a time to find out the answers and solve these issues.