The women’s health organization Planned Parenthood has found itself under assault in recent years. Laws passed in states like Texas, which recently became one of 13 states to ban abortion after 20 weeks, will now shutter many local Planned Parenthood clinics. But as the nearly 100-year-old organization struggles to keep its doors open, it has found a newly invigorated source of support. Black women have begun to emerge as some of the organization’s key spokespeople, decision-makers and leaders.
On Wednesday, media personality Star Jones joined Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards for an off-the-record discussion of reproductive health and Planned Parenthood’s future with a room full of African-American female influencers, including BET President Debra Lee, producer Crystal McCrary and CBS medical expert Dr. Holly Phillips, among others from the worlds of business, media and entertainment. The event was hosted in the home of Alexis McGill Johnson, a former political adviser to Sean “Diddy” Combs and Russell Simmons, who is now chairwoman of the Planned Parenthood board of directors.
Of her participation, Jones told The Root, “Women’s health is one of my primary issues. I work so hard to make sure women are aware of ownership of our own bodies, and I see everything Planned Parenthood does as connected to women’s health.” She continued, “I know the nation thinks of Planned Parenthood in a very myopic way.” She said that too many people see Planned Parenthood through the lens of providing abortion, which accounts for less than 10 percent of the organization’s services. “When it comes to women’s health, they are the first line of defense for most lower-income women in America,” she said.