I stand with Planned Parenthood sign

Just one more reason Planned Parenthood should be supported — not attacked

Ed. note: This post was originally published on the Community site.

Churches are burning, gun violence is killing people, wages are too low, families are being separated and deported, and reproductive freedom is under attack. It is easy to feel useless in what feels like a never-ending trail of injustices. How can one person make a difference?

When I was younger I was baffled by the question “What do you want do when you grow up?” When I became a college student last fall, the question just got hauntingly louder and more complex as I began to also ask “How will I put my education to good use?” and “Can I be part of a generation that fights injustice instead of allowing it to continue?”

The health and well-being of this country’s future lay in the hands of young people. So, no wonder we push them to figure out what role they will play. However, too few schools, businesses and organizations are helping students use their education and experiences to play an active role in improving their campuses and communities, and be active citizens in their government before their professional careers even begin.

Planned Parenthood is doing just that. In addition to the essential sexual and reproductive health care services and much-needed sexual education they provide to millions of people every year, Planned Parenthood is bringing together and training student leaders interested in reproductive rights and justice to help build their collective voice and strength. This is just one more reason that Planned Parenthood should be supported–and not attacked with fraudulent videos and false claims aiming to shut down health centers and cut people off from health care.

Using an intersectional framework to connect reproductive health to other issues such as civil rights, immigration, the environment, and identity politics, Planned Parenthood Generation Action Network has been organizing young leaders nationwide for years.

It’s not that students need Planned Parenthood to tell them that reproductive rights are an important issue–on college campuses across the country, students have long been organizing into clubs, activist committees and campaigns on their own to fight for reproductive freedom and justice. Students are fighting against campus sexual assault, gender misconduct, racial discrimination, harmful immigration policies and the prison industrial complex. But there is often a lack of solidarity between these different student-led movements. It takes networking and organization to optimize their power, their voices and their dynamic perspectives.

By arming young leaders and activists with the tools they need to create change through national campaigns, conferences and leadership opportunities, Planned Parenthood is also opening itself up to opportunities for it to grow as an organization and learn from the youth who are on the front lines of the majority of reproductive health and rights issues.

As an intern in the Public Affairs Department at Planned Parenthood of New York City, I was lucky enough to join almost 500 other interns, activists and student leaders this summer at Planned Parenthood Generation Action’s National Conference in Washington D.C.

Over the course of four days, I attended a leadership institute on Reproductive Justice, lobbied at three New York Representatives’ offices, rallied on the Hill with over 500 activists, and participated in three workshops on everything from economic justice and global advocacy to campus sexual assault and advocacy through art.

Throughout the conference I witnessed the power of numbers; I met students from all over the country fighting unique battles within their states. I connected with economists, educators, directors, artists and politicians who had managed to work a reproductive justice lens into their professional careers.

Planned Parenthood Generation Action is providing me and hundreds of other students with an education and training experience that I would have never been able to find in a classroom setting.

Planned Parenthood provides crucial health care to millions of people every year regardless of their ability to pay, and for that it will forever have a special place in our nation’s history. But, this particular nonprofit goes beyond the walls of its health centers. Behind the scenes, behind the pink t-shirts at rallies, behind the signs at protests and tables covered in condoms and brochures, there is another legacy being created.

We are the interns, the volunteers, the campus activists, and the patients. We are the voices on campus lawns and on social media. And thanks to Planned Parenthood, we are able to unite in solidarity as the Planned Parenthood Generation eager to make change.

Header image credit: Reuters

New York, New York

I am a Nicaraguan-American sophomore at Barnard College in NYC, studying Economics, Urban Studies and American Studies. I am currently a Public Affairs Intern at Planned Parenthood of New York City.

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