From the moment former Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy announced his retirement, we knew this was bad news for our reproductive rights. Our fears were realized when Donald Trump selected Brett Kavanaugh to replace Kennedy, and after the closest Senate vote since 1881, he was confirmed. With the Supreme Court now leaning conservative, the future of Roe v. Wade is very much unclear.
Thankfully, Planned Parenthood has been planning for this day since Trump was elected and today announced a three-step strategy to protect and expand reproductive rights.
"There’s no way to sugarcoat it. With Brett Kavanaugh on the Supreme Court, we will likely see the further erosion — and perhaps complete reversal — of Roe v. Wade soon," Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a statement.
The multimillion dollar nationwide plan — dubbed Care for All — will be enacted to ensure that even if Roe v. Wade is overturned, everyone has access to safe, legal abortion services. According to Laguens, there are currently 13 abortion cases one step away from the Supreme Court, which means the court will likely rule on them in the next year or two. Given that the court now has more conservative judges than liberal or swing justices, it's likely that once these cases are heard in the Supreme Court, the protections afforded through Roe v. Wade will diminish or disappear.
Planned Parenthood's three-part plan includes strategies in access, policy and culture change. To help ensure access to care, the organization will be expanding services in states like California and New York, where abortion access is likely to remain legal, and then implementing ways to get people living in other parts of the country the care they need. This will partially be done through telemedicine, which is already offered to those in more remote areas, but will be more widely available under the new plan.
Two new Planned Parenthood health centers will open soon in Richmond, Virginia, and El Paso, Texas, to help make it easier for people to reach a clinic when they need one.
On the policy side, Planned Parenthood will partner with advocates and other groups to use state-level policies to ensure there’s an ironclad network of states across the country where abortion will still be legal, regardless of what happens at the Supreme Court. The goal here is not only to maintain existing abortion legislation, but to also expand it whenever possible, Rachel Sussman, national director of state policy and advocacy of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, said in a press call.
Finally, Planned Parenthood will continue to prompt cultural change by ensuring abortion is represented accurately and routinely in television shows, movies, music, fashion and other aspects of pop culture.
So while it may seem like we're careening toward a society in which the reproductive freedoms we've enjoyed for the past several decades become a thing of the past, organizations like Planned Parenthood are on the ground figuring out ways to get people the basic health care they need and deserve.
"We demand a world where our elected officials represent the vast majority of Americans who support access to safe, legal abortion," Laguens said in a statement. "No matter what those in power may say, each of us deserves the right to control our own bodies. That includes the right to decide if and when to become a parent. Planned Parenthood will never back down — and today, we are fighting for all of our rights and freedoms."