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Shonda Rhimes Is the Hero Planned Parenthood Needs Right Now

It’s pretty horrifying how under attack Planned Parenthood is right now. The organization, which provides essential health services to millions of people who couldn’t otherwise afford care, is fighting to keep its funding from the federal government. The Trump administration is using that funding to try to bully Planned Parenthood into stopping all abortion services — which accounts for only 3 percent of the services Planned Parenthood administers each year. And this presidency is only a few months old; things are bound to get worse for Planned Parenthood in the coming years.

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But the organization has a new weapon, and one that will likely cause some big waves: Shonda Rhimes is joining Planned Parenthood’s board of directors. Rhimes is the kind of advocate women need — she understands the struggles we face in this patriarchal world, and she’s willing to put her own safety and comfort on the line to do the things she thinks are necessary to help advance women’s issues.

In a Q&A with Elle, Rhimes explained why she decided to serve on Planned Parenthood’s board, and what she hopes to accomplish in her new position, and it’s all pretty damn inspiring.

One of the most surprising things to come out in Rhimes’ interview is that she’s never been one of the 5 million people who use Planned Parenthood’s services each year.

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“There are a lot of men who run things,” she said. “And so for them, if it’s not about them, it’s considered an ‘other.’ I think the point of our country, our planet, the reason we’re all here, one of the best things that we can do is be concerned about something even when it doesn’t concern us. That’s the whole point. The fact that I’ve never had to use a Planned Parenthood, the fact that I’ve never been in need of medical services I couldn’t afford or didn’t have access to, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be concerned about the fact that other women don’t have that access. I think that’s important. The same way there shouldn’t be men going around saying, ‘Well, it’s just a women’s issue’ because it doesn’t involve their uteruses because they don’t have them. That’s such a simplistic and silly way to look at this. Obviously it concerns them. It should obviously concern them. When you help make people healthier, it makes the nation healthier, it makes the world healthier, it makes the economy healthier.”

There was also plenty of talk of the way Rhimes has helped to reduce the stigma around abortions by featuring characters having abortions on several of her shows. Her stance is one we only wish more Republican lawmakers would adopt.

“I’m constantly having the conversations; I had a lot of conversations when we did that scene in which I tried to explain that just like all the scenes I did on Grey’s Anatomy, in this scene we were portraying a medical procedure that is legal in the United States of America,” Rhimes said. “I wasn’t sure what everybody was so concerned about. I was accurately portraying a medical procedure that the Supreme Court says people are allowed to have. I wasn’t going to pull any punches. It’s been a long time since Roe v. Wade, and I do think [most people] are able to have respect for other people’s choices. Most people, I think, have accepted that it’s not up to them to control other people’s choices, except, it seems, when it comes to Washington, D.C., where everyone has an opinion about people’s uteruses.”

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Rhimes is exactly the kind of person Planned Parenthood needs on its side. She’s strong and eloquent, and she’s going to do everything in her power to fight for an organization so many people in this country need. And at a time of such uncertainty, women need people like Rhimes fighting that fight.

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