May 1, 2013

In April, I spent several days at the Planned Parenthood Federation conference in Washington, D.C. What a marvelous experience.

President Obama joined us and spoke. The only sitting president to have done so. His remarks remind us all of basic human rights for women.

At the conference, I met women and men who provide excellent healthcare around the United States…from breast exams to birth control, testing for sexually transmitted infections, quality science-based education for youth, and abortions.

Over and over, research proves that Americans want comprehensive sex education. Over and over, research proves that Americans want to plan their families and know the full range of options. Over and over, research proves that when women control their own sexuality – including choosing when to have children – families are stronger economically.

And Planned Parenthood is always here…celebrating 100 years in 2016! Planned Parenthood cares no matter what.

Did you know that it was clergy of many faiths who joined up with Planned Parenthood back in 1916 to help women? Yes, the clergy. And at the PPFA conference, various clergy speakers said such beautiful things:

  • Religious freedom does not mean stopping others from choosing. Government cannot privilege one religion over another. (And here’s my comment: The conservative, fundamentalist religions promote laws – government intervention – from birth control to marriage equality. I thought we had a separation of church and state in the U.S.)
  • The New Testament talks about the beauty of sexuality and spirituality. We must exercise our own sexuality wisely. And, because life is previous, let’s not create it carelessly.
  • For people of faith, it’s time to reclaim churches, mosques, and synagogues. It’s time to take back god from the fundamentalists.

And here’s one of my favorite statements from a religious leader speaking at PPFA: Our society – each of us – must commit to the moral agency of women.

So why are we fighting this battle again?! And the battle seems more aggressive and vicious. State by state, pockets of elected officials and radical citizens are adopting laws that reduce women’s rights. State by state, fundamentalist officials and citizens seek to control my life and yours.

A colleague said to me this week, “This is the last breath of a dying culture.” Fighting against birth control and abortion (and fair pay and so much more) is an attack against the basic civil rights of women. Fighting against marriage equality is an attack against the basic civil rights of our gay and lesbian community members.

The last breath of a dying culture. A culture that still believes in patriarchy. A culture that believes in passé traditions like male dominance, white supremacy, heterosexual primacy. An old fashioned culture with old fashioned beliefs that just don’t work anymore. And these are beliefs that the majority of Americans do not accept.

That’s right, the majority of Americans support birth control and access to abortion, equal pay for women, no more patriarchy, marriage equality. Our younger community members have no problem with interracial marriage and life partners.

But that old culture…it’s gasping. The vicious attacks – the viciousness of the attacks – is a last gasp. Know that, you who fight so viciously. Know that you are in the last throes of an old culture. You are losing. The rest of us will win.

Martin Luther King Jr. was right. That the arc of justice – while moving painfully slowly sometimes – does move towards justice.

Basic human rights for women will triumph. Basic human rights for people of color will triumph. Basic human rights for lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgendered friends and neighbors will triumph.

Always, there will be people and movements that will fight for social justice.  Planned Parenthood is one of them. We provide extaordinary healthcare. And we fight for social justice. Forever.

About Simone Joyaux

A consultant specializing in fund development, strategic planning, and board development, Simone P. Joyaux works with all types and sizes of nonprofits, speaks at conferences worldwide, and teaches in the graduate program for philanthropy at Saint Mary’s University, MN. Her books, Keep Your Donors and Strategic Fund Development, are standards in the field.

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