healthcare, Planned Parenthood, Women — June 11, 2015 at 12:55 pm

Planned Parenthood launches new advocacy campaign in Michigan


Campaign focuses on six core values to improve the lives of women.

Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan has launched a brand-new campaign: My Health, My Life. No Matter What.

Although the campaign is being used by Planned Parenthood affiliates in states across the country, the Michigan affiliate is tailoring its advocacy to the needs of Michigan and local communities.

“The impetus behind the campaign is to help us talk about what our goals are and why we do what we do,” says Amanda West, director of government relations for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan. “We believe the most important economic decisions women make are if, when, and how to have a child. That’s why we fight for women’s health and their right to make those decisions on their own terms.”

According to John Keserich, director of political field operations at Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan, the campaign, which follows on the heels of the highly successful “Women Are Watching” campaign, was created with input from the national organization and state affiliates.

We talked about the climate across the country in state legislatures. It’s very hostile in a lot of places, but not everywhere. So we are using a national campaign umbrella to talk about good work in places like Washington and Oregon, where they’re passing proactive policies. But the campaign umbrella will also help us talk about attacks we’re experiencing in other states, like Michigan, and support a proactive policy agenda.

The campaign focuses on the 6 reasons Planned Parenthood fights for women’s health. Each of the points addresses the areas where there are attacks or erosions to services and rights, as well as positive steps legislatures should be focusing on to improve the lives of women.

“The bills most likely to move in Michigan right now are the negative ones, unfortunately, given the current climate,” Keserich says. “But we have champions for women’s health and rights working on legislation to increase access to services. If people could put aside the political divisiveness and really think about the lives of women and families in Michigan, they should be thinking about good policy.”

Planned Parenthood will be working closely with its champions in the Legislature to pass proactive legislation and stand up against attacks on women. The first of the six reasons — “We all have the right to plan when and if to have a child” — is a great example of an issue Planned Parenthood will be working on from both sides, West says.

We’re working to establish a state contraceptive equity law that expands access to birth control so women have the ability to plan all their pregnancies. On the other hand, we will continue to fight regulations and legislation that impedes a woman’s ability to make her own decisions about pregnancy.

Ensuring that doctors help decide women’s medical care, rather than politics or religious beliefs, is another area of focus. Planned Parenthood has been actively fighting Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA) legislation in Michigan. On the flip side, they support legislation created by Senator Curtis Hertel — the Doctor Patient Protection Act — that would forbid the government to come between decisions made by a woman and her doctor.

To support Planned Parenthood’s legislative efforts in Michigan, a state-wide grassroots effort is also launching as part of the new campaign. Keserich says the campaign creates an opportunity to organize people around the six core values and engage them in a meaningful, productive way.

Since 2010, we’ve been beating back all of these abortion restrictions we don’t want, which has robbed us of the opportunity to talk about what we do want. This campaign gives us the opportunity to talk about what we do want — and then take action.

Volunteers can join in by calling and writing to legislators, writing letters to the editor and making their voices heard across the state. Engagement can begin by signing up to volunteer at the revamped Planned Parenthood Advocates of Michigan website. The organization will also connect people to staffed offices across the state, where Planned Parenthood will provide training and other opportunities to engage over the summer.

“We’re going to build organizing teams to learn skills and work with others who share their values,” Keserich says. “We’re not only going to advance a state agenda but also think about changes we might make at the local level to increase access to services.”

This is only the beginning of the My Health, My Life No Matter What campaign, much of which will evolve based on what Planned Parenthood hears from supporters across Michigan in the coming months. Efforts may expand beyond health-specific issues to include women’s economic issues, such as paid sick days.

“The campaign brings together all of our issues,” West says. “There are a lot of fronts we’re fighting on in Michigan and nationwide. The campaign helps us fight in a united and strategic way.”

Keserich urges Planned Parenthood supporters to get involved by connecting with their state legislators and telling them that instead of further restricting access to abortion, they should be focused on increasing access to reproductive healthcare and reducing the need for abortion.

Victory, success and continued access to reproductive healthcare in Michigan rests on the voices and actions of our supporters. Nothing is possible without them and we hope they’ll join us in our fight. They always have, and we thank them for their continued support.

Get involved today! Take the My Health, My Life Pledge and learn more about Michigan-specific facts about the campaign’s 6 reasons.