Planned Parenthood is proud voice for racial and gender justice
By Sirius Bonner
During Black History Month and every month, Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette is proud to fight for the health and freedom of Black communities.
PPCW is here to support your right to access the sexual and reproductive health care and resources you need to build the life you want to live. We’re also proud to champion the brilliant achievements of Black heroism — past, present and future.
This year, with Kamala Harris as Vice President, and an increasing number of Black women in policy-making positions, we are reminded that Black women continue to show up to improve our communities with creativity and ingenuity — remembering and respecting the past, while envisioning a more equitable future where health equity, bodily autonomy, and racial and gender justice are not just ideals, but reality.
Too many people in this country still attempt to hinder progress and maintain the status quo. Anti-Blackness is pervasive in society, as seen through attacks on accurate U.S. history education in schools, sex education in schools, access to the ballot box and the right of all people to decide whether, when and how to become a parent.
Acknowledging our own history, Planned Parenthood recognizes that we must always strive to do better to serve patients and communities. We continue to train staff on how to prevent implicit bias, racial microaggressions and stereotypes that directly affect patient experiences and health outcomes for people of color.
We strive to see, hear and learn from Black women, earn their trust and offer the supportive services they deserve — no matter what. Planned Parenthood health centers provide care to nearly 350,000 Black patients every year, regardless of income, insurance, gender identity, sexual orientation, disability or immigration status.
We’re also invested in eliminating barriers to sex education for Black communities. Planned Parenthood provides sex education that is inclusive, medically accurate and culturally relevant — reaching more than 70,000 Black people through affiliate programs in 2020 and many more online.
We also understand that people do not live single-issue lives. As we have learned from Black-led reproductive justice partners, sexual and reproductive health cannot be separated from other social justice issues like access to housing, clean air and water; a just immigration system; and the ability to raise families in safe environments free from the surveillance of police or the state.
This past year, Planned Parenthood has been working with the Biden-Harris administration and Congress to make significant progress in addressing healthcare disparities. Yet due to centuries of systemic racism and deep-rooted institutional barriers, much work remains to be done.
The maternal mortality crisis in the United States is particularly alarming for Black women, whose deaths related to pregnancy occur at more than three times the rate than for non-Hispanic white women. Vice President Harris, alongside reproductive health leaders in Congress, fought to address this crisis through the Black Maternal Health Momnibus Act, which was included in the Build Back Better package that President Biden signed into law.
The White House has also made historic investments in maternal health, such as permanent changes to Medicaid law to expand pregnancy benefits to one-full year postpartum, funding for doulas and community-based organizations, and diversifying the field of trained healthcare professionals.
And while unprecedented abortion restrictions are disproportionately harming Black communities, we must take urgent measures to protect access to reproductive health care.
Abortion justice can’t be achieved until every person has the freedom and power to make decisions about their own body and to live a free and full life.
Sirius Bonner serves as Vice President of Equity and Inclusion at Planned Parenthood Columbia Willamette. For more information visit ppcw.org.