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Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida
Most American women have grievances about the new president, but few issues are as personal as Trump's and Vice President Pence's stated intentions to obstruct women's access to basic healthcare and safe, legal abortions. On Jan. 23, Trump signed an executive action reinstating the so-called "Mexico City Policy," which cuts U.S. government funding to international non-governmental organizations that perform or discuss abortions.
The American Civil Liberties Union reports 238 abortion restrictions have been imposed at the state level since 2010, with 50 happening last year alone.
Our own local Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida refuses to cede any ground in this latest national battle, steadfastly providing women and men with reproductive health services, education, and screenings.
"Planned Parenthood is working in health centers, in state capitols, and out on the streets on behalf of reproductive health and rights," says Anna Eskamani, senior director of public affairs and communications for Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida.
PP-SWCF began operations in 1966, an affiliate of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Inc., which now has 22 health centers in Florida. Eskamani began in April 2012, and has become a local icon of reproductive rights advocacy, an increasingly significant part of their mission. She says there are many different ways to volunteer for Planned Parenthood, including event volunteering on April 29, when the group's Generations Gala: Orlando fundraiser will feature speakers Dahlia Lithwick of Newsweek and Slate, and Sonya Renee Taylor, founder of The Body Is Not an Apology movement.
Besides helping at events, volunteers may escort patients at health centers, perform community outreach like tabling or writing letters to legislators, or help at the office. College students can get involved through Vox, Voices for Planned Parenthood, on campus. Faith leaders and congregants who support choice can join the Interfaith Coalition for Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood is also looking for some lobbying help in the form of "a new generation of leaders in the civic and legislative process." The vast majority of Americans side with personal privacy and choice, but they aren't always the voters calling legislators.
"When the legislative session is unfolding, pay attention and write and call them. That is something that almost everyone can do," says Eskamani. "You don't have to leave the house. Know your legislators and know who your state reps and senators are, not just in Congress. Sign up for a Google alert for their names, so you're the first to see it. Remember, this is a relationship." – DP