The United State of Women: Building Equity and Empowering a Generation
On June 14, the administration of President Barack Obama hosted the first-ever United State of Women Summit. I was invited to speak about the state of reproductive health in America, alongside an incredible young Planned Parenthood activist. You can read my remarks below, and Grecia’s here.
This year, Planned Parenthood turns 100. For the reproductive rights movement, it’s time to celebrate the success and commit to true equity in reproductive access.
Planned Parenthood began before birth control or abortion were legal in the United States. Our belief was that women’s ability to control their body, and decide when and whether to have children, was inherent in the ability to realize our full potential.
Fast forward 100 years, and opportunities for women have changed!
We are now half the workforce. We are half the medical students and law students.
We are more than half the college students — in fact women are 6 times as likely to get a college degree as they were before birth control was legal.
Today, birth control is used by 95 percent of women in America at some point in their lives — and now, thanks to the Affordable Care Act and President Obama, insurance covers it for no co-pay. We’ve already saved $1.4 billion — it’s revolutionary!
This is a huge step forward in getting more effective, more affordable birth control to our patients — and it’s no coincidence that today we are at a 30 year low for unintended pregnancy in America.
Today, abortion is legal and one of the safest medical procedures for women in the United States. But as we know — a right is not worth much if you can’t access it — and for too many women in America, accessing safe and legal abortion is getting more difficult. In some places, it could become even more difficult, as we wait to hear any day on how the Supreme Court rules in the most important abortion case in a generation.
What we know at Planned Parenthood is you only get the justice you fight for. And so we are doubling down to make sure the opportunities for the next generation are not limited by income,
by country, ZIP code, immigration status, race, gender or sexual orientation.
Our mission and our motto is care, no matter what — that means not just that every person has a right to reproductive health care, but that every person has equal access to care.
Equity in health care means a patient in Louisiana having the same access to safe, high quality abortion services as someone in New York.
That’s why we just opened a brand new Planned Parenthood right in the middle of New Orleans.
Equity means transgender patients can access health care without shame, without stigma — no matter where they live — which is why Planned Parenthood is now providing transgender health care in North Carolina.
And health equity means not just getting birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment -
It means living in healthy communities — which is why Planned Parenthood of Michigan was handing out water filters to our patients in Flint, Michigan long before it became a national story.
And it means all people living in a safe space — and last weekend was a reminder of the violence committed against LGBTQ people and people of color — communities that Planned Parenthood serves and stands with.
And to really get reproductive equity? We have to change the culture around sexual and reproductive health — so that no one is ashamed of being themselves and building the life they want.
No one is changing culture the way young people are today. This generation of reproductive rights activists is the biggest, the most progressive, the most open and connected we have ever seen. And we’re committed to making sure they have the tools and platform to stand up for themselves, their communities and their future.
We have taken the attacks on Planned Parenthood and on reproductive rights and turned it into an organizing opportunity — we are now 8.5 million strong — with young and diverse activists leading the charge.
Grecia Magdaleno is one of those activists, working every day in her community to change the conversation around sexual and reproductive health.
For all the progress we’ve made — there’s a long way to go. The last 100 years have changed everything for women — and this generation is changing everything all over again.