Mission Focus: Reproductive Rights Issues
According to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s Web site, approximately 750,000 U.S. teens will become pregnant this year, and nearly 4 million will contract a sexually transmitted infection — in part because they don’t have access to the information they need to make responsible decisions about their health.
Organizations that support the reproductive rights of women are faced with the challenge of finding funds for a highly political cause during a conservative administration.
“The challenge for fundraisers in this field is that health care is political, and women’s health care is even more political,” says Kim Meredith, PPFA’s chief development officer.
“Whether it is preventing breast cancer or preventing unintended pregnancy, women’s health care is an issue that affects every American family,” she adds. “But it is also an issue that’s been politicized and debated in Congress, in the states, at the ballot boxes and in the courts.”
Because of the politics, Meredith says, organizations seeking funds for reproductive-rights causes can never stop educating the mainstream, and they continually find themselves promoting the message that reproductive rights are not just women’s rights. It comes back to mainstream health issues that affect everyone.
According to Meredith, the average American woman wants only two children, so she spends five years of her reproductive life pregnant, postpartum or trying to get pregnant, and approximately 30 years trying to prevent an unintended pregnancy. PPFA’s research has found that 98 percent of sexually active women in the United States have used birth control during their lifetimes.
Talia Bilodeau, vice president for development at the National Women’s Law Center, agrees that reproductive choices are a mainstream health issue.
“Reproductive rights are a core component of women’s health,” she says. “We fundraise by giving donors a substantive issue and keeping them educated.”