Why I Stand with Planned Parenthood

I had my first mammogram on Monday, which was ordered by my doctor as sort of a belated 40th birthday present. Friends had described what would happen, but that didn’t make it any easier to remain still while my left breast was slowly squished between two cold plates. I immediately thought of the scene in Star Wars where the heroes are being crushed in the trash compactor. I felt like any second I was going to hear one of my boobs calling out to R2D2 for help. But it was actually my next thought that surprised me: I am so lucky I get to be squished by this machine.

When Congress recently voted to defund Planned Parenthood, they threatened to deny millions of women access to uncomfortable — but potentially life-saving — screenings such as mammograms. Not to mention access to birth control, HPV vaccinations, HIV testing and routine health exams.

Without Planned Parenthood, basic health services would become a luxury millions of women simply could not afford. That profoundly disturbing possibility is why those of us at the TV show MOM are donating this year’s Emmy® budget to Planned Parenthood. We are a show about women, and we choose to stand with them at this critical time.

When I heard what my colleague Chuck Lorre wanted to do, I was flooded with joy. I am proud to work for a man who is both generous and courageous — and who responds to threats not with anger but with action.

I know first-hand about the fierce determination of the fundraising department of national office of Planned Parenthood, and how much good they will accomplish with this donation, because for two years in my early 20s, I worked there.

(Without knowing about the connection, my current employer had chosen to donate to former employer. Having only worked at four places in my adult life, the chances of this happening are miniscule.)

At the time, I was a struggling actress living in New York City. I initially took the position because it would allow me the flexibility to audition for cough syrup commercials, but it quickly became more than just a day job.

I ran the Sustaining Membership program, which was made up of donors who were committed to donating every month — sometimes with gifts as little as $5. I spent hours every day on the phone listening to people’s stories. I was moved by the fact that many of the monthly members were on fixed incomes, but because Planned Parenthood touched their lives in powerful ways, they were determined to give back.

I spoke to countless donors who told me they relied on Planned Parenthood for healthcare and feared one day it might get defunded. I naively thought the day would never come, but here we are — teetering on the edge of just that.

In the face of such a daunting challenge, it’s easy to feel insignificant. To wonder what difference one call to Congress actually makes, to question weather a small donation will have any impact and to tell ourselves that if we can’t make a huge gesture then we shouldn’t bother making one at all.

It used to be when I heard fundraisers say “every little bit helps,” I would think, “I kinda doubt that’s true.” But then I worked for the Sustaining Membership program and got to witness small donations adding up to thousands and thousands of dollars every month.

Every little bit does help, and every little bit is necessary to ensure that millions of women have the right to complain about how awkward it is to get a mammogram.

We hope you join us in standing with Planned Parenthood — at any level. Now is the time.