Planned Parenthood president says organization will continue to provide abortion care: ‘We won’t back down’

Alexis McGill Johnson tells theGrio that the reproductive health care nonprofit will "fight in every state" to ensure women and pregnant people have access to services.

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The implications of the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade are being felt across the country as abortion is now banned in at least seven states, with potentially a dozen more to come. But the mantra at this moment from Planned Parenthood – the nation’s largest and most visible abortion care provider – is to continue to “fight.”

The high court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson now allows states to freely set their own laws on whether to restrict, ban, or expand abortion services. A previous survey conducted by Planned Parenthood found that the Supreme Court’s undoing of Roe, making abortion no longer a constitutional right, is expected to impact as many as 36 million women.

 Alexis McGill Johnson, president of Planned Parenthood, told theGrio that her worry isn’t just about the impact of trigger laws banning abortion in states like Missouri and Oklahoma, but also how it will “embolden” new states to “move quickly in their state legislatures to pass anti-abortion regulations and restrictions. 

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Alexis McGill Johnson the Women’s March Foundation’s National Day Of Action! The “Bans Off Our Bodies” reproductive rights rally at Los Angeles City Hall on May 14, 2022 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Sarah Morris/Getty Images)

“Twenty-six states could possibly overturn Roe or severely limit access to care,” warned Johnson. 

Critics of last week’s Supreme Court decision are concerned that low-income and Black women, especially those who live in the South, will have to travel long distances across state lines for reproductive care. Despite the ruling, McGill Johnson stressed that Planned Parenthood is still here to help those in need of the organization’s care.

“Abortion is something that we proudly provide,” McGill Johnson told theGrio. “Even though it may be a smaller percentage of our overall services, it is still critically important for our ability to be able to offer the broadest range of sexual reproductive health care possible for communities.” 

McGill Johnson affirmed, ”we’re going to fight in every state until we can do that,” adding, “We won’t back down.”

Planned Parenthood provides a range of services like dispensing birth control and testing for STDs. Those services are not impacted by the recent ruling. However, the non-profit provides a third to half of all abortions in the United States. 

“Planned Parenthood has been around for 100-plus years and we will continue to provide sexual and reproductive health care and abortion where we can,” she emphasized.

President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Alexis McGill Johnson (C) marches with Planned parenthood at the New York City Pride Parade on June 26, 2022 in New York City. (Photo by Alexi Rosenfeld/Getty Images)

The international organization has been receiving support in its fight to stand against the unprecedented ruling. In the aftermath of the overturning of Roe, music superstar Lizzo and Live Nation announced a joint $1 million donation to Planned Parenthood to aid them in the services they provide to women and pregnant people.

The longstanding organization has taken a direct hit with the high court decision, but it is still dedicated to performing reproductive care – particularly in states where it is still considered safe for women and pregnant people to receive abortion services. Maryland, Illinois, California and New York are a few of those safe states.

U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks (D-N.Y.), who is a father of three women and a grandfather of two granddaughters, told theGrio that ”women have the right to choose.”

Meeks said the governor of his state, Kathy Hochul, state legislators, and Attorney General Letitia James, are prepared to ensure that “every New Yorker has the right to choose and to get the kind of health care that women need,” but also provide it to others by welcoming “individuals that may come from some of the regressive states that are now banning abortions.”

The congressman, who also serves as chairman of the House Foreign Committee, said there are also global implications to the overturning of Roe v. Wade. “We are losing our leadership in the world” he lamented, arguing that the United States has now “joined the ranks” of countries like Nicaragua, El Salvador, and Poland where abortion is completely illegal and criminalized. In El Salvador, for example, women have been jailed for having a miscarriage. 

Rep. Gregory Meeks
Rep. Gregory Meeks, D-N.Y., speaks during the America Competes Act event in the Rayburn Room in the Capitol on Friday, February 4, 2022. (Photo by Bill Clark/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images).

Democrats and some in the legal community say they are determined to fight over the right to privacy and contraception. Carlos E. Moore, president of the National Bar Association – whose tens of thousands of members are both anti-abortion and pro-choice – issued a statement condemning the Supreme Court’s ruling in Dobbs v. Jackson. He warned that the consequences of the decision will impact Black and brown communities the most.  

“We cannot haphazardly overturn legal precedents like Roe v. Wade without recognizing the grave injustice that could be done to women, in this instance, and racial and ethnic minorities in the next.”

McGill Johnson of Planned Parenthood said she is especially concerned about how prosecutors could target women and pregnant people who seek abortions by seeking to criminalize them. But despite the uphill battle, she maintained that her organization will continue to support women however it can. 

“They will continue to criminalize things like contraception, like IUDs, like Plan B, IVF. They will continue to make decisions that take us so far back and while also taking away our rights to participate in democracy,” said McGill Johnson. “That’s why it’s so critical that everyone wakes up and gets focused on the months to come.”

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