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Television producer Shonda Rhimes.

Fighting back

‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and ‘Scandal’ creator Shonda Rhimes joins Planned Parenthood’s national board

April 7, 2017

Shonda Rhimes, the creator and lead writer of hit TV shows Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal has announced that she will join the national board of Planned Parenthood after being personally asked by the group’s president, Cecile Richards. Speaking with Elle’s Mattie Kahn, the two women shared more about what led to the union, and what might come next for the women’s health care provider.

“When someone you really admire … calls on you to serve, you say yes,” explained Rhimes. “The fact is that women’s health is under fire right now. And so to me, it feels like it’s important to help fight back.”
Richards said that she approached Rhimes, a longtime local affiliate of the organization, because of “her commitment to lift up the stories of people who don’t always get heard, whether it’s in the way she talks about LGBT issues or women’s reproductive health care or [the way she] centers people of color on television.”

“To me,” she added, “the most important work we can do now at Planned Parenthood is make sure that the voices of all those folks are heard, particularly in this political environment. And there’s just no one better at utilizing the power of storytelling than Shonda Rhimes.”

In a 2015 episode of Scandal, Rhimes famously took on the issue of abortion in an episode that featured Olivia Pope having undergoing abortion onscreen. At the time, Rhimes said, the network and studio had been nervous about the possibility of backlash from alienated viewers. But in the end, she said, the executives found themselves surprised when little to no backlash came at all.

“As we’ve all become more educated and aware, I think people have developed very different opinions over what is ‘controversial’ and what’s not,” Rhimes said.

Rhimes added that while she had “never personally had to use a Planned Parenthood,” that many of her friends have had to avail themselves of the organizations services, and continue to do so.

“The fact that I’ve never had to use a Planned Parenthood, the fact that I’ve never been in need of medical services I couldn’t afford or didn’t have access to, doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be concerned about the fact that other women don’t have that access,” said Rhimes. “I think that’s important. The same way there shouldn’t be men going around saying, “Well, it’s just a women’s issue” because it doesn’t involve their uteruses because they don’t have them.”

Citing the current political climate in the U.S., Richards said that recruiting Rhimes to the national board couldn’t have come “at a better time.”

“When so much basic health care is under attack, as we saw just a few weeks ago as a room full of men negotiated away maternity benefits for women, it’s never been more important for people’s stories to be told,” Richards said. “At Planned Parenthood we’ve spent the past few months making sure that our patients, from every background, have ways to tell their stories on television, in the media … We need folks in Washington to hear that, and Shonda has always been unapologetic about speaking truth to power.”

Read the full story at Elle.


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