An Open Letter to the Planned Parenthood Community
To Planned Parenthood patients, activists and supporters:
I have never met a group of people more dedicated to real work, more passionate about the mission or more committed to service, so I wanted to reach out to you directly.
Yesterday, the board of directors for Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) appointed me the acting president and CEO of PPFA and acting president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund. I am so grateful, and really humbled, for the board giving me this opportunity.
I have been part of the Planned Parenthood family for nearly a decade as a volunteer board member and board chair. In that time, I have had the chance to travel across the country and see the incredible work that happens every day at Planned Parenthood health centers. Planned Parenthood doctors, clinicians and staff at 600 health centers open their doors to care for more than 8,000 people each day, providing birth control, cancer screenings, STI testing and treatment, and safe, legal abortion. Planned Parenthood educators give people the information they need to make decisions about their bodies, their health and their lives. And Planned Parenthood volunteers, activists and organizers empower communities to fight for their rights, including the basic human right to access health care.
I have watched this work happen, and every day I am proud to be part of this organization and this movement. I’ve spent my career working at the intersection of academia and racial justice, and I used to tell my students: We find leadership in everyday experiences, but sometimes you see a good fight and you just want in.
So I jumped in at Planned Parenthood.
For more than a century, Planned Parenthood has been fighting forward, innovating and striving to better serve patients and the people who depend on us to lead the fight for reproductive rights.
Today, we are defending access to sexual and reproductive health from attacks on many fronts — from the attempt to shut down access to abortion in states across the South and Midwest; to sexual and reproductive health crises including skyrocketing STI rates and rising maternal mortality rates; to attacks by the Trump-Pence administration. Monday, the administration promised to begin enforcing their harmful Title X gag rule, and we’re fighting back in every way we can. The communities we serve face attacks as immigrant families are ripped apart and dehumanized, LGBTQ people — especially trans and nonbinary people — face continued discrimination, and people of color are openly vilified from the highest office in the country.
The stakes are high.
But I would not have agreed to take on the daunting task of leading Planned Parenthood if I did not already know that this organization and this movement are more than equal to the challenge. We are 13 million supporters strong, and we have a long history of taking on big fights — and winning.
And we know the country stands with us. One in five women in this country has been to Planned Parenthood for care in her lifetime. Support for abortion is at a record high, with 77 percent of Americans saying that the Supreme Court should uphold Roe v. Wade and protect access to safe, legal abortion.
Planned Parenthood is strong because our people are strong. Our service is what gives us our power. Patients trust us to be there for them even when politicians try to stop us from providing care. Our supporters come through for us when the attacks come at us fast and furious — rallying in Georgia, in Alabama, in Missouri, and everywhere our rights and autonomy are threatened. Every day our staff recommit to our mission: to provide excellent, compassionate sexual and reproductive health care, and to ensure that all people, no matter who they are or where they’re from, can access the care they need.
The bottom line is this: Our work and our mission isn’t about one person or even one organization — our work is about the millions of people who need access to affordable and comprehensive health care.
As Planned Parenthood’s acting president, I will honor what each of you do for this organization and this movement. Because you’re not just doing this for the 2.4 million people who get care at Planned Parenthood each year — you’re doing it for my two daughters, and for the next generation who deserves access to care. I will keep us moving forward, toward a more just, equitable future where every person’s health care decisions are their own.
That is my commitment to you.
Planned Parenthood’s doors are open — today, tomorrow, and into the next century. No matter what.
Alexis McGill Johnson