Shonda Rhimes, the creative force behind such hit as Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away With Murder, is joining Planned Parenthood’s national board of directors.
Rhimes, a longtime supporter of the women’s health organization, was already on the board of her local chapter in Los Angeles but the 47-year-old producer is now getting ready to lead at the national level. And that’s nothing but good news for American women.
In a joint interview with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards for Elle magazine, Rhimes talked about why the group is important to her and to more than 2.5 million American women and their families. She also poo-pooed the notion that men do not benefit from the work the organization does nationwide.
“Obviously, it concerns them,” she said. “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.”
Thanks to the GOP’s relentless “war on women” and women’s health care, $500 million in annual federal funding for Planned Parenthood is currently at risk, this despite the fact that 62 percent of American women and men oppose defunding the organization, according to a recent Quinnipiac poll.
Last October, Planned Parenthood celebrated “100 years of care, education and activism” on behalf of women and families based on “the revolutionary idea that women should have the information and care they need to live strong, healthy lives and fulfill their dreams — no ceilings, no limits.”
President Trump recently offered to preserve Planned Parenthood’s federal funding if they stopped providing abortions, a “deal” that Richards and the organization immediately rejected.
“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,” Rhimes stressed.
Rhimes makes no apologies for speaking truth to power nor for her support of abortion, “a medical procedure,” she notes, “that the Supreme Court says people are allowed to have.” In fact, anyone who has ever watched her shows knows that she has never shied away from accurately portraying women’s health issues, including abortion, onscreen.
In 2015, for example, viewers watched as Scandal‘s main character, Olivia Pope, lying flat on the table, went through an abortion. The scene was the first on-air depiction of an actual abortion procedure ever on a network primetime series. Until then, stories dealing with abortion typically used shots of women in clinic waiting rooms or in bed afterward to allude to, but never actually show, the procedure.
In fact, both Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy have featured abortion storylines—a procedure that one in three American women are likely to go through, Richards added. “There’s almost no one in America who can’t relate to the issue of an unplanned pregnancy or a troubled pregnancy; it’s touched them somehow in their lives.”
“There are a lot of men who run things. 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,” Rhimes told Elle, “[and] 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.”
Women should have a place to go to get pap smears and cancer screenings, says Rhimes, recalling that most people, more than 40 years after Roe v. Wade, are well able to have respect for other people’s choices—except perhaps in Washington, DC “where everyone has an opinion about people’s uteruses.”
But women’s health care should not be considered an “extra” that can simply get “cut” because some members of Congress are not comfortable with other people’s personal choices. At least, that’s obvious to most Americans, particularly those of us with uteruses.
– Danielle Bizzarro