What you (yes, YOU) can do to Stand with Planned Parenthood

If you've already read this guide, you can skip to this week's action
Questions, thoughts, ideas? Email us at defenders@ppfa.org.

What's happening right now:

It's real, folks. Extremists in Congress are doing everything they can to block millions of patients from accessing birth control, cancer screenings, and other care at Planned Parenthood, hitting low-income folks and people of color the hardest.

This is a sweeping attack on our bodies and our rights. Here's what you need to know:

  • What exactly is at stake? It’s Medicaid reimbursements, which cover basic health care things like cancer screenings, STD testing and treatment, and birth control.
  • Blocking people from access to this care could result in increased rates of STDs, cancer deaths and unintended pregnancies.
  • People of color, people who earn low incomes and rural folks will be most affected, as these folks already face barriers to health care and may have no other options.

We've faced threats before, but nothing even remotely this serious. THIS IS HAPPENING NOW, and even with our recent victory stopping the disastrous Obamacare repeal bill in Congress, the extremists will try again — and win — if we don't get an unprecedented number of people to speak up loudly, over and over. The truth is that it may happen even if we do, but make no mistake: we CAN make our voices so loud that Congress has to listen. This document lays out clear steps YOU can take to help stop this nightmare scenario as a Planned Parenthood Defender.

What's in this guide

Become a Defender

If you haven't already done so, the most effective way to help is to become a Planned Parenthood Defender – a member of a core group of supporters who have raised their hands and said they'll give their time to amplify this movement when it's most needed.

If you haven't already, sign up as a Defender now and we'll text you about once a week (or when there's an urgent need) with simple, effective ways to take action.

This document outlines ways you can maximize your impact as a Defender, so make sure we've got your digits to keep you updated as urgent developments happen!

But wait. Can we actually win? How?

Even with our recent victory stopping the disastrous Obamacare repeal bill in Congress, the extremists will try again, and the U.S. Senate may only need 51 votes to "defund" Planned Parenthood. Those are tough odds, but we already have nearly half the Senate on our side. That means if we can get a few more senators stand with us, we WILL win.

Let's get real: Moving those senators is no easy task. But remember, if members of Congress pass this legislation, it means stripping women, men and young people in their own home states of health care they need. Poll after poll shows a strong majority of Americans oppose lawmakers' attempts to block patients from getting care at Planned Parenthood. WE CAN WIN THIS if we show these Senators the truth: Voters do not want Planned Parenthood attacked.

That's where YOU come in. We've seen an outpouring of support, letters, calls, volunteers, and donations since November. Together we made 25,000 calls to Paul Ryan in a week! We STOPPED the Republican’s devastating health care bill in the House. We are a force to be reckoned with. We'll help you:

  • Get more letters and calls to Congress than lawmakers had imagined possible.
  • Keep making all that noise over and over at key moments, not just once.
  • Win the media and social media wars, and get friends and family to join you.

But what if all my state's members of Congress support Planned Parenthood? It's still SO DARN IMPORTANT that you speak out! We need our most vocal champions in Congress to be even bolder, and we need to defend them publicly from the vicious political attacks they're experiencing on the Hill and online. We need to fight to expand care in friendly states to offset the cutbacks elsewhere. We'll also need YOU to help activate Planned Parenthood supporters in other states.

So – wherever you live – can you spare some time for something that will help millions of people who depend on Planned Parenthood's care in their daily lives? If so, read on for a step-by-step list of specific things YOU can do to help win this fight.

Before you start: Can you join us in person?
We're holding regular events all across the country from community meetings to marches and rallies. Find your closest event and start getting involved.

Step 1: Two things you can do right this minute to get started

First, share this emergency guide on social media right now. The more your friends see you actually DOING something about the issues you care about, the more they'll do. It really helps spread your message if you tag a few friends who'd be most interested.

Share on Facebook   Share on Twitter

Or copy this link:

Second, take two minutes to act: Call Congress and tell them to stop any attempts to block patients from getting care at Planned Parenthood. If your Senator's voicemail boxes are full, or you have trouble getting through repeatedly, contact them another way. And, if you haven't already, join over 750,000 people (and counting) and sign our letter to Congress.

OK, now we're ready to really dive in.

Step 2: Host an emergency meetup

Simply put, this is the first and most important thing you can do as a Defender. (Sign up now if you aren't a Defender already.)

What's an emergency meetup? It's a few people getting together to take action for reproductive rights. You can host a small one just for your friends, or you can make it public. Do it at home, at a coffee shop, in your dorm room, at your student center, your church. Or piggyback on an existing meeting of a book club or a campus group. Whatever will help you follow through.

What do I have to do? Simple: Send out an invite to your friends, then download or print our meetup guide – pretty much zero prep. You could literally host one tonight. You'll get together, meet and greet for a few minutes, then get down to our current top action for maybe half an hour. Then (but this is totally optional), you'll most likely hang out, gossip, tell some stories and drink some beverages for a while before you all have a big group hug and make plans for the next one. Just kidding about the hug. Sorta.

If people want more – and in our experience, they almost always do! – consider holding one meetup per week. We'll have a new top action every week on whatever's most important right then.

Not into hosting a meetup? Totally cool. Just skip down to Step 3 for more ways to help.

Ready to go? Invite your friends! Decide whether you want to keep it private or open it up to other Planned Parenthood supporters who live near you.

On the day of your meeting: Print one copy of this two-page meetup guide, or just pull it up on your phone or laptop.

After your meeting: Fill out this form to help us count all these events and give us any feedback or ideas that might help others!

This week's action: Pink Out the internet

Pink Out Day is time for reproductive rights supporters to show their defiance against the relentless attacks on Planned Parenthood. It's a day to show anti-women's health politicians that we will fight like hell to protect 2.5 million patients a year and the 1 in 5 women that will go to Planned Parenthood in her life. It's a day for people to unite and say: We resist. We are strong. And we’re not backing down — not today, not ever.

So on March 29, we’ll be turning the internet pink

Here's what you can do THIS WEEK to help:

If you've already completed this action, feel free to choose an action for your meetup from the list below.

Step 3: A bunch of other simple actions you can take

Click the links below to jump directly to a description of each action in the document.

Reach out twice: once to friends in key states, once to Trump supporters you know.

Here are TWO ways to reach out to important groups of people.

First: Send a message to friends who live in key states and ask them to make a quick call to Congress. Click these links to see what Facebook friends you have in states like Indiana, Alaska, Arizona, Maine, Nevada, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Ohio, or Michigan. As you know, it's incredibly important that we get these folks involved. (If you're not on Facebook, just email the message below to any friends or family in states like these.)

If you're on your phone, tap Facebook Messenger next to each person's name to send them a message, If you're on your computer, click the down arrow and "Send message":

Facebook Messenger screen capture

Here's a sample message you can use:

Hey -- hope you're good! I'm writing because of where you live. As you may know, one of your U.S. senators may end up being a key vote as Congress attempts to block millions of people from getting care at Planned Parenthood. I'm a big fan of PP, and if you haven't already, I hope you'll call the Senate to tell them to protect PP health centers: https://www.IStandWithPP.org/call

Next up: Did you know a recent poll showed that nearly half of Trump voters support Planned Parenthood? Reach out by email or social media to folks who may have voted for Trump, and send them a link to share their story at http://ppact.io/2hPjMyd. Here's a sample message you can use:

I just found out half of Trump voters don't want anyone restricted from visiting Planned Parenthood, and I hope more of them will speak out to stop Congress from blocking millions of people from care at Planned Parenthood health centers. This bill doesn't have anything to do with abortion at all, just prevents people from getting routine care like cancer screenings and birth control. I feel like we can all agree that's a bad idea. I hope you'll share your story and then help speak out in support of Planned Parenthood at http://ppact.io/2hPjMyd.

Plan a visit to your senator's local office

One of the most effective ways to show your members of Congress you care is to actually show up at their office. U.S. Senators have local offices, and their staff are assigned to meet with constituents, which they do on a daily basis. Planning a lobby visit is easy, and you can do it as many times as you're able with as many people as you can gather. The more, the better – there is power in numbers!

  • Get at least three people from your emergency meetup to commit to visiting your senator's office with you when Congress isn't in session and lawmakers return to their state offices. If you need advice on which of your two senators to pick, shoot us an email.
  • Whip out your calendars and pick a few time slots that would work for everyone.
  • Call your target office (you can find the number here) and ask when someone would be available to meet with your group. Ask if the senator will be in the state office anytime soon, on a short trip or during a recess, and try to go at a time when they'll be around – you just might get some face time! If that isn't possible, set up a meeting with a staffer.
  • Prepare what you're going to say. You don't have to be an expert. Lawmakers don't expect that. Personal stories can be even more effective than statistics (though you can get talking points here). Talk about what Planned Parenthood means to you, and back up your personal story with some facts about your state if possible (find your state's Planned Parenthood Action Fund site here).
  • Bring your materials. Print three copies EACH of this fact sheet to leave behind. Be early, be courteous, be positive, and be succinct. Don't forget to take some pictures of your group inside or outside the office!
  • Report back on how your meeting went by emailing us. Post your photos on social media with the hashtag #IstandwithPP.
Send personal, snail mail letters to Congress

It might seem old-fashioned, but it's a lot more work to write and mail a paper letter as compared to an email – and your members of Congress know it! That's why they pay more attention to mailed letters. When they rip that thing open, they know you really, seriously care.

If you're doing this at an emergency meetup, here's what you'll need:

Each guest will write three letters: one to their U.S. representative and one to each of their U.S. senators.

We've provided some sample ideas here, but it's really important that everyone write in their own voice as much as possible. Start your letter out with a sentence or two about why YOU care about Planned Parenthood and reproductive freedom – that's the most important message to get through.

Not sure who your members of Congress are or what their mailing address is? Look them up.

We urge everyone to write, address and stamp their letters at the meetup. Have one designated person whose job it is to collect and mail all of the letters.

Show up at your member of Congress's events

Every member of congress hosts town halls, constituent meetings, and other public events. These events are free to attend, and are a great opportunity to show strength and support for Planned Parenthood. And it's just as important for us to show up for friendly lawmakers as for swing votes or anti-choice extremists.

Find out who your member of congress is, then check out their website, Facebook, or Twitter, or this crowdsourced guide for information on their public events. If nothing is listed on their site, call the district office. If no events are planned for the immediate future, set a reminder on your calendar to call each week.

Before you organize an event, see if someone else has already planned an event nearby that your group could join up with.

When you're headed to an event, a few tips:

  • Be ready to ask a question if there's a Q&A session or meet-and-greet line. Keep it short and to the point. Research where they stand on Planned Parenthood before you ask, and if possible, use their words.
  • The senator will probably try to dodge the question. Ask for a follow-up. Make them answer the question you originally asked. Don't let them wriggle out of it!
  • If it's a seated event, sit near the front. It makes it more likely you'll get called on to ask a question.
  • Be firm but courteous. If you're in a seated indoor event, don't yell, no matter how angry you feel. We're all for yelling at rallies and marches, though!
  • If it's a more public event with no questions, like a public speech or rally, be sure to PINK OUT! Wear some Planned Parenthood gear to show your pride.
  • Give materials to the Senator or their staff. Print three copies EACH of this fact sheet to leave behind. If your Senator doesn't have any events planned, you can also just drop off the materials at their closest office.
  • Report back on how your event went by emailing us. Post your photos on social media with the hashtag #IstandwithPP.

Talking points for your questions can be found here.

Call a local radio show or write a letter to the editor

Most local newspapers publish letters from readers. In addition, local radio call-in shows are a great way to share your concerns with the community.

  • Do your research.
    • Check out the websites for local papers or radio stations to identify opportunities where you can make your voice heard. For the paper, look for the option to send a letter to the editor. For radio stations, call the station to find out if there are any upcoming programs that accept call-ins.
    • Editors of local papers typically prefer letter submissions that tie back to something that has already been published, such as an article or other opinion piece, so keep your eyes open for articles about Planned Parenthood or reproductive health that you can respond to!
    • Check out our talking points and read some powerful stories here.
  • Craft your message.
    • If you're calling into a radio station, have a room-temperature glass of water on hand, and bullet out your speaking points ahead of time so that when you get nervous (it happens to everyone!) you can still make your points.
    • If you're writing a letter to the editor, research the length requirements. Often, the letters that the paper accepts and goes on to publish are short – sometimes less than 200 words – so keep it brief and make a strong argument that includes a local story or statistics, if you have them available.
  • Make contact.
    • Once your letter has been written, have it proofread by a friend or two before you submit or send it in. They can catch mistakes that you might not have otherwise seen.
    • If you're calling into a show, make sure you introduce yourself and make a personal case for why you're calling into that particular program. Try to be yourself!
    • If you're calling into a program designed to create discussion, such as those on local NPR stations, tell people who came to your meeting when and where to listen, and ask them to be prepared to call in to reinforce the message.
  • Report back how it went.
    • Let us know at defenders@ppfa.org if your letter is published online, and post it on social media so others can read and share.
    • If you called into a radio station and made it on the air, see if the stream is archived on their website and share that on social media.
    • Call in again at a later date, write to other papers, and continue spreading the message!
Help build our power on campuses nationwide — even if you're not in college!

Whether you're in college, have a bunch of friends in college, or are long past college, there's something really important you can do to build Planned Parenthood's power. Send an email encouraging college students to join the Planned Parenthood Generation Action network – a nationwide network of activists who raise awareness about reproductive health and rights and help other students become advocates in an inclusive and open environment.

(If you're not in college, think about your friends' kids, your younger cousins, neighbors, nieces – all of those energetic, motivated do-gooders are powerful voices in this fight.)

Here's some sample copy. Be sure to make it personal! Share your OWN reasons to support Planned Parenthood and fight for reproductive rights.

Hey, just wanted to reach out and spread the word about an amazing program called Planned Parenthood Generation Action. Basically it's a radically inclusive group of activists on college campuses, fighting not just for reproductive rights and sexual health and education, but to create lasting change in their communities. The work they're doing right now to defend Planned Parenthood is so urgent. You should link up with them: https://www.plannedparenthoodaction.org/communities/planned-parenthood-generation-action

1-minute actions you can take on your own, anytime

Here are a few simple ways people can get involved with this fight. Do them and share them on social media and help us get bigger, louder, and stronger!

OK, OK, I'm doing my part! What else is Planned Parenthood doing?

Right now, Planned Parenthood and advocates across the country are engaged in a complex, multifaceted campaign to protect reproductive rights and ensure access to health care. Here are a few things you might be interested in:

350+ events nationwide. We're holding emergency community meetings, marches, and rallies EVERYWHERE. Find your closest event and start getting involved.

The Women's March on Washington. Planned Parenthood was proud to be a sponsor of the biggest inauguration demonstration in the country.

Showing that voters of every stripe support Planned Parenthood.

A strong majority of people in this country support Planned Parenthood – rural, city-dwelling, Black, brown, white, low-income, high-income and everything in between – including half of Trump voters. We're working to lift up the voices of this majority and show just how out-of-touch extremists are with the will of the American people, even within their own party.

And, of course, that's just the tip of the iceberg. We're organizing lobby visits, speaking out in the media, and mobilizing experts across the political spectrum. We're putting the voices of the most marginalized communities front and center, since they'll be hit first and worst by this. (Be sure to follow @Latinos4PP and @PPBlackComm on Twitter.)

And through it all, Planned Parenthood continues to provide the care that this fight is all about. Planned Parenthood health centers have seen a rush of new appointment requests since the election, and their staff are busy providing compassionate care and expertise to anyone who walks through their doors. No matter what.

With your help, we will help make sure Planned Parenthood keeps doing just that, for generations to come.

Thank you for being a part of this fight. Thank you for never giving up.