The national controversy over the “gotcha” videos of Planned Parenthood officials discussing fetal tissue with fake researchers took a Capitol Hill turn last week on social media.
#ShoutYourAbortion went viral after Seattle writer Amelia Bonow used it to talk about the abortion she received at a Planned Parenthood clinic on Capitol Hill. The message was partially in response to the controversy that still threatens to bring the federal government to the brink of a shutdown.
— Lindy West (@thelindywest) September 19, 2015
Bonow and fellow Seattle writer Lindy West, who shared Bonow’s post and the story of her own abortion, have done countless national interviews over the past week and received plenty of support. In what has become a sadly familiar situation, the backlash has veered into harassment. One major conservative news site even published Bonow’s home address.
While Planned Parenthood is most vilified for providing abortions, the procedure make up a fraction of the services it offers. Roughly 3% of Planned Parenthood clients nationwide visit clinics to receive abortions and 12% of clients use Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands clinics for the procedure. And while Planned Parenthood enjoys strong support in the city, losing funding at the federal level could have significant impacts for the two Central Seattle clinics.
“There is a ripple effect, it would be that health centers would close and there would be a lack of reproductive health care services,” said PPGNHI spokesperson Katie Rogers. “We also know that the capacity for other health care organizations to step in for Planned Parenthood if we were defunded would pose a challenge.”
In 2014, the 21st and E Madison clinic served 6,137 patients including 1,549 beneath the federal poverty line. PPGNHI also runs a clinic on First Hill. Both are full service clinics that offer family planning counseling, STD testing, annual exams, and abortions. And clinics aren’t just for women (no gender limitations to “parenthood”). The E Madison clinic provides vasectomies and STI testing for men.
The E Madison office is also the administrative hub for PPGNHI, which covers Washington, Idaho, Alaska, and Hawaii.
The video controversy this summer sparked one organized protest outside the Capitol Hill clinic, though regular clinic hours were never interrupted. In a show of support, clients have covered the windows with “why planned parenthood matters” stickers. The threat of something worse happening still lingers. Earlier this month, an arsonist set fire to a Planned Parenthood clinic in Pullman.
Abortion opponents, including some Republican presidential candidates, say the videos show Planned Parenthood engages in the illicit selling of fetal tissue. An unedited version of one video later showed Planned Parenthood executives repeatedly saying they do not “profit” from selling fetal tissue to researchers, but legally cover their costs.
Nonetheless, conservatives in congress threatened to block the passage of a new budget until all federal funding was stripped for Planned Parenthood. Last week, bills started to advance to avoid a shutdown, but not before a major shakeup within the GOP. House Speaker John Boehner announced Friday that he would be resigning from Congress after facing strong backlash within his party for trying to broker a deal to avoid a shutdown.
Tuesday, Planned Parenthood supporters are planning Pink Out Day events across the country including Seattle.