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Moms (and all women!) Have a Lot at Stake This Election Year

May 8, 2012

This year, Mother’s Day and Primary Election Day fall within a week of each other inIndiana.

Seems appropriate, because in 2012, moms have more reason than ever to keep a close eye on what’s happening in the Statehouse and inWashington,D.C.

One of our co-workers told a story this morning about how she was explaining to her 7-year-old daughter who she would be voting for today.

We Are Women Rally

The mom (who also has a 5-year-old son) told her daughter that one race, in particular, meant a lot to her, because their family lives in the district of the state senator who was behind the legislation to defund Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN) in 2011.

She wanted her daughter to know that it was important to elect people who believed that women should make their own choices about their bodies and their families’ health care.

Now, this mom knew, of course, that her 1st grader probably didn’t understand what she was getting at (nor did she need to, at this age), but her story reflects what a lot of us are thinking these days.

Women’s rights are under attack.  Nearly every TV ad Republicans have aired has highlighted their extreme anti-choice positions.  Mitt Romney has said, “Planned Parenthood, we’re going to get rid of that.”

Yes, elections in 2012 are going to be crucial.  And we can make a difference by getting involved, and simply voting.

Our Advocates team has been out and about and LOUD lately – with the We Are Women rally at the Statehouse and protests outside Republican fundraisers featuring Romney and the infamous Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell, who supported mandating transvaginal probes for women seeking abortions.

Thank you to all of you who have taken the time in recent weeks to show your love for Planned Parenthood and stand up for women’s rights.  (Hard to believe we’re talking about this in 2012, isn’t it?!)

Even the rain couldn’t keep the ralliers away.

Now, returning to the subject of Mother’s Day.  PPIN is offering free Pap tests at 19 of its health centers next week.  Please be sure to tell your mom about it!  Encourage her to do something for herself, for once.

Have you voted yet?  What issues are driving you to the polls this year?  Let us know in the Comments below.


Saturday Marks One-Year Anniversary of Pence Vote

April 13, 2012

Wow.  Do you remember the “Pence Amendment?”

A year ago tomorrow, Congress, led by Indiana’s own Mike Pence, voted to bar Planned Parenthood from providing preventive health care through federal programs.

Fortunately, President Obama and a bipartisan Senate stood up for women’s health on April 14, 2011, and blocked the House of Representatives’ extreme proposal.

It’s frightening to think that if far-right members of Congress had gotten their way, millions of people would have lost access to preventive health care, including birth control, cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and annual exams at their preferred health care provider.

One positive thing that came from the Pence vote, though, was that supporters of quality health care for women became acutely aware of what some members of Congress were up to.  They started paying close attention to what has turned out to be an ongoing assault on women’s rights.

If you’re among those who are now keeping track of who’s got our back this election year, be sure to check out Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s Women are Watching campaign.  You’ll learn which elected officials and candidates stand for women’s health, and who needs to be held accountable for their actions.

We’re certain that Hoosiers will remember what Congressman Pence started a year ago, and they’ll take those memories to the voting booth in November.  (Let’s not EVER forget that Mr. Pence is now running for our state’s governor!)

Congressman Pence shouldn’t be playing politics with women’s health.  He should know that we are watching.  And we’ll be voting.

International Women’s Day 2012

March 8, 2012

Happy International Women’s Day to all of you!

For more than 100 years, this day has been celebrated around the world with events that highlight advancements in women’s rights and equality.

The United States has certainly made incredible progress in both of these areas, and is, in fact, a world leader in gender equality. However, based on the current dialogue in our country and the tidal wave of anti-woman legislation at the state and federal levels, it’s clear we still ave a long way to go.

Today we’re seeing a troubling trend toward policies that restrict access to comprehensive reproductive health care, which is counterproductive to promoting the health and safety of women and their families.

Birth control, for example, has been under attack, despite the fact that it prevents unintended pregnancies and gives women the ability to plan the number and spacing of their children. This, of course, leads to healthier babies, fewer pregnancy complications, fewer abortions and more financially secure families. It’s hard to believe that in 2012, when we know the benefits are tremendous, that we’re debating the importance of access to family planning services like contraception.

As we celebrate International Women’s Day this year, let’s take this opportunity to inspire more Hoosiers to commit to moving women’s rights forward and refuse to accept the will of a vocal minority who want to take us back to the days before women could legally control their own bodies.

We know we have your support, but let’s keep on encouraging others to stand up for organizations like ours that provide lifesaving and life-affirming preventive care services, including birth control, so that women can make the best decisions for themselves and their families.

I think we can all agree that we want our children to be safe and well-loved and for our daughters, wives and friends to have access to critical health care services.

Tell us: what are you thinking about on this International Women’s Day? Any concerns or praise you’d like to share?

Black History Month: Peer Educators Take to the Streets to Talk Reproductive Health Care

February 28, 2012

Before we close out the month of February, we wanted to share one of our peer educator’s thoughts on Black History Month.  Below, read what Jess Ensenberger has to say about a recent Condom Crawl in Bloomington, and a moving film that had a lasting impact on the event’s participants.

Earlier this month, on Feb. 11, a group representing Planned Parenthood of Indiana’s peer education program joined with IlluMENate to spread the love in downtown Bloomington, and hand out some free contraception.

In just an hour, PPIN employees and volunteers managed to hit around 11 local bars and hand out more than 1,000 safe sex kits, which included condoms, lubricant and a coupon.

It was no coincidence that our peer educators were out and about on the 11th, as their actions coincided with Black History Month, National Condom Week, and Sex Love & Action Month (not to mention, the date was also close to Valentine’s Day!).  Each one of these factors had special meaning for those involved – but Black History Month, in particular, likely carried the greatest significance.

Before heading out for the “Condom Crawl,” participants watched a short documentary called, A Vital Service: African American Stories of Reproductive Health Care.    

One of the primary goals of the film was to encourage women to ask themselves how they felt about reproductive health care, and really listen to their answers.  Because they are the ones directly affected, it makes sense to give their own voices the most weight.

The film also dispels many of the myths surrounding Planned Parenthood and the African-American community – as well as hammers home that every woman, regardless of race or economic status, should have access to affordable reproductive health care.  The very fact that politicians (the vast majority of them being men) could take away those options from any woman is insulting.

“I am personally offended as a black woman and as a mother that I can’t decide what’s best for my children, or that I can’t make the best decisions for my body,” said one woman interviewed for the film.

During the film, women repeatedly spoke of how Planned Parenthood helped them to prevent an unplanned pregnancy and even saved their lives by detecting precancerous cells.  As the film points out, these are vital services for women, and particularly the African-American community, a population that statistically requires access to affordable reproductive health care more than others.

After watching such an inspiring film, we were ready to hit the ground running, handing out free condoms, giving Planned Parenthood of Indiana a strong presence in the community, and spreading knowledge of the invaluable services the nonprofit provides.

Black History Month is not only about celebrating inspiring figures of today and the past, such as the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.  It’s also about taking the same principles those figures supported to create a better future.  I think that those who fought so hard for Civil Rights would have been proud that night to see the women and men advocating for the reproductive rights of all populations.

Do you have any Black History Month stories to share?

Valentines for Our Friends

February 13, 2012

Valentine’s Day.  What a sweet, sweet day it can be.

And while we know valentines like those pictured below will make many of you think back to a time when we sent adorable notes to our grade school friends…you’ll think they’re even sweeter after we tell you who’s receiving them this year.

Yes, these handmade hearts were created by some of our interns, and they’re being delivered to our good friends in the state legislature who, time and time again, stand up for Planned Parenthood of Indiana and our patients.

The list of our loves on Valentine’s Day this year includes Sen. Vi Simpson (D-Ellettsville), Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville), Sen. Jean Breaux (D-Indianapolis), Sen. Karen Tallian (D-Portage), Rep. Terri Austin (D-Anderson), Sen. Earline Rogers (D-Gary) and Rep. Linda Lawson (D-Hammond).

We truly appreciate all that these women do to support our preventive care services and the thousands of low-income Hoosiers who rely on us every day.

Planned Parenthood has been in the news a lot on the national level, lately, with leadership at the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation making the decision to continue providing funding for breast exams, and President Obama fighting to ensure that as many Americans as possible have access to free birth control.

If it were possible, we’d make valentines for everyone who has weighed in on both of these issues over the last few weeks – but, that would mean we’d have to buy ALL of the construction paper, lace doilies and ribbon that are available in Indiana.  There’s just too many of you to thank – and that’s a nice problem to have.

We hope you enjoy your Valentine’s Day.  We’ll be thinking of you.

What will be on your mind on Tuesday?  Let us know below.

Back in Action at the Statehouse

January 18, 2012

It’s that time of year again.

The Indiana legislature is back in session, and we’re back at it, too, making sure Hoosiers continue to have access to PPIN’s preventive health care.

Thus far, we’re tracking just a few bills that include some troubling language – bills that undermine access to medication abortion, for example.  On the flip side, there are even a couple of bills that attempt to roll back the damage done in 2011, such as HB 1109, filed by State Rep. Linda Lawson.

We’ll update you on these bills later, if they move forward in the legislature.  In the meantime, if you’re curious about the legislative process, and how a bill becomes a law, click here.

While this is a “short session” for Indiana’s legislators – one that’s supposed to end March 14 and address emergency measures only – we still want and need you to get involved.  One only has to remember what happened in 2011, and in Mississippi, to know that expressing your opinions LOUDLY and often, is important.

Here’s how you can stand with us:

Also, if you haven’t checked out the national Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s “Women Are Watching” campaign, now is a good time to do so.  It’s yet another way to make sure you’re up to speed on attacks on women’s health and where candidates stand on pivotal health care issues.

It’s a busy time here, but we’re on top of things, and looking out for our patients.

This Sunday, January 22, will mark the 39th anniversary of Roe v. Wade – what better way to honor this milestone than ensuring low-income Hoosiers’ preventive health care needs continue to be met.

What are your thoughts on this year’s legislative session?  Be sure to leave a comment below!

On Our Thankful List: Smart, Thoughtful Activists

November 21, 2011

We’re thankful for so many things this year. It’s been a challenging 2011, to say the least, but when you know that you have so many good people standing with you, it makes it a lot easier.

Take this smart young woman, for example. Morgan Humphrey recently returned from an activist boot camp in Virginia, and she was kind enough to share some of what she learned there. Check out her guest blog post below.
During the 2011 mid-term elections, Erin Houchin, Mackenzie Szymanski and I, three interns from Planned Parenthood of Indiana, participated in a Get Out the Vote (GOTV) boot camp hosted by the Planned Parenthood of Virginia Political Action Committee. Along with 24 other pro-choice activists, we spent four days engaging with voters about the Nov. 8 election, encouraging them to vote for Virginia State Sen. Edd Houck. We canvassed door-to-door, phone-banked and conducted two visibility events. Between Saturday afternoon and Tuesday afternoon our group of women in pink shirts knocked on more than 4,800 doors and made over 13,000 calls to identified potential supporters of the senator.

Sen. Houck consistently votes pro-choice and is a long-time supporter of Planned Parenthood. His position as the chair of the Health and Education Committee has been crucial in preventing anti-choice legislation from advancing to the floor of the Virginia State Senate. During the 2011 legislative session, for example, his committee blocked anti-choice efforts such as fetal personhood laws, mandatory ultrasounds for women seeking abortion, restrictions on comprehensive sex education and targeted regulations against abortion providers (TRAP) laws. Because of his outward support for Planned Parenthood and pro-choice voting record, Sen. Houck was targeted by the No Excuse Ministry PAC, an anti-choice organization, during his campaign.

The GOTV boot camp was an incredibly rewarding experience. I learned a great deal about the inner workings of a political campaign and the unique vocabulary associated with organizing and campaigning. I also learned tips for door-to-door canvassing, from the obvious (“smile and make eye contact”) to the less obvious (“shake the fence before you open it!”). With experience, I became more comfortable and confident in engaging voters, and I was able to balance  following a script with having a conversation. I learned the importance of asking supporters when they plan on voting — a casual question that prompts them to consider the logistics of getting to the polls.

Sadly, I also learned what it’s like to work hard on a campaign and lose. Though I know our efforts were not pointless, it has been a difficult process, internalizing the senator’s loss and how that reflects on my abilities. The Republicans now hold a majority in the Virginia Senate and anti-choice measures are expected to follow in the upcoming legislative session. Despite ending on a negative note, the hands-on knowledge and skills I acquired will be invaluable during the upcoming legislative session in Indiana, and the 2012 election. Additionally, I connected with 24 inspiring women activists, from Maine to California, who I can contact for ideas and support in my future work for reproductive justice.


If you’re interested in getting involved, and participating in events like the one Morgan described above, be sure to email us at We’d love to add you to our PPIN activists list!

Happy Thanksgiving! And before we go, we have to ask, what are you thankful for this year?

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