This week, anyone who hadn’t already been following the latest attacks on Planned Parenthood was jolted to attention as the organization’s president, Cecile Richards, went before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Over the course of Tuesday’s five-hour hearing, far-right committee members continued their dishonest and illogical claims about the organization in an effort to bolster their case that the federal government should “defund” Planned Parenthood, or stop the $500 million in Medicaid reimbursements that the organization currently receives for health services such as testing for sexually transmitted infections and providing birth control.
On Tuesday, there was an outpouring of support for the organization, which serves 2.7 million people nationwide. Supporters turned their social media profiles pink and a coalition of activists and patients delivered more than 2.4 million “I stand with Planned Parenthood” petition signatures to congressional leaders. Nearly 300 rallies and events were held nationwide. The sea of pink featured in news reports confirmed the message that Republican hardliners refuse to hear: The American public is not falling for the lies or the narrative that the deceptive, highly edited videos that started this mess seek to portray. Sixty percent of those polled this week believe that any federal budget agreement must maintain funding for Planned Parenthood.
So what now? What beyond that highly successful “pink out” and the hashtags? Here are four ways to stay engaged.
1. Correct the rampant misinformation floating around.
Outright lies underpin this witch hunt. From Carly Fiorina boldly lying to viewers of the last Republican presidential debate about the sting videos, to members of Congress pretending that the Hyde Amendment (which for four decades has banned the use of federal funds for abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or when a pregnancy puts a person’s life at risk) doesn’t exist, hardliners are counting on the power of misinformation. To me, it’s never made much sense to engage in back-and-forths with willfully ignorant ideologues, but there are plenty of people—our friends, our family members—who just don’t know the facts and so are especially vulnerable at times like this. Stay informed and share with them what you know.
2. Organize to preserve and expand abortion access.
If anti-choicers want to pretend that the Hyde Amendment doesn’t exist, now seems as good a time as any to repeal it. An activist coalition called All* Above All has been working nationwide to get Congress to lift bans on abortion coverage. Specifically, they’re trying to pass the EACH Woman Act, which would repeal the restrictions enshrined in Hyde.