Since Donald Trump was elected president last week, at least 80,000 people have collectively donated $4 million to Planned Parenthood. It's a response the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecil Richards, has called "unprecedented."
While most donations have been to the national organization, many state chapters have seen a similar outpouring, and Planned Parenthood Arizona is no exception.
Annet Ruiter, vice president of external affairs at PPAZ, says the group has never seen such a sudden and sharp uptick in support after a presidential election.
She isn't able to say exactly how much money PPAZ has received because most donations are processed through the national organization. "It will take them a while to process the gifts and parcel them out to the different states," Ruiter explains. But she knows how many people visited the PPAZ website between November 7 and November 13.
Ruiter tells New Times that 4,733 unique visitors went to the “volunteer and internship opportunities” page on the website — a 13,422 percent increase over the previous week — and that 4,189 visitors clicked on the "donate today" page, an increase of 3,305 percent.
"The number of small donations is really heartening," says Jodi Liggett, vice president of public affairs at PPAZ. "These are everyday people who, whatever their own personal disappointment was [after the election], they were thinking of others.
"All of us at Planned Parenthood have been deeply moved by the outpouring of support that we've gotten, but we also just want to express solidarity [with those] who are in genuine fear right now," Liggett adds. "We serve a diverse community of men and women of all kinds, and we're concerned about everybody."
People are donating to Planned Parenthood and organizations like the ACLU and the Council on American and Islamic Relations, in large part because they fear the alt-right-inspired policies coming down the pike in a Trump administration.
At Planned Parenthood, Liggett says, one of the biggest concerns is the vacant Supreme Court seat. Trump has repeatedly promised to appoint conservative, pro-life judges who will overturn Roe v. Wade. At one point during the campaign, he said women who get abortions should be punished, though he walked back that statement after an outcry from both sides of the abortion debate.
The other big concern, Liggett says, is the incoming vice president, Mike Pence.
"It seems like this administration is ready to invest a lot of power in that role, and we're very concerned about the individual who sits in that chair," she says. "He blazed quite a trail in his home state of Indiana, with anti-choice laws and so-called religious freedom bills that made LGBT folks afraid and uncomfortable."
That explains why many contributions to Planned Parenthood were made in Mike Pence's name, with some donors requesting that their receipts be sent to his office.
"I don't think we're going to see Armageddon immediately," Liggett adds. "Though we'll be very interested in how [House Speaker] Paul Ryan and other legislative leaders — what they're interested in doing from a policy perspective."
At many points in the past year, Planned Parenthood has found itself at the center of a political maelstrom as Republican governors, including Arizona's Doug Ducey, launched bogus investigations into how fetal tissue is handled and Republican legislators tried to defund or otherwise cripple the organization.
Five of Arizona's national legislators who have voted to defund Planned Parenthood were re-elected last week: Senator John McCain and U.S. Representatives Paul Gosar, Trent Franks, Martha McSally, and David Schweikert. Rep. Matt Salmon did not seek re-election, but his successor, Andy Biggs, was no friend to Planned Parenthood when he was in the state legislature.
National politics affect women's health in every state, yet many of the more draconian policies are enacted on a state level. Republicans retained their strong majority rule in Arizona's house of representatives, but Democrats picked up one seat in the state senate, shifting the balance one increment away from the anti-Planned Parenthood crowd.
"I do think that interest groups and the Republican majority are going to feel like they have the wind in their sails and the support of a friendly [Trump] administration," Liggett worries. "And I think it would be naive to not understand that people will feel emboldened because 'the people have spoken' and their values have been validated. But everyone needs to remember that this was not a landslide victory."
Should we expect to see more thinly veiled attempts to destroy Planned Parenthood in the name of women's health?
Liggett says the answer is yes.
Whether through sympathetic legislators or the court system, "We're still planning to make efforts to repeal certain laws. That's why we have a legal arm at Planned Parenthood," she says. "It's a [slow] process, but it does protect the women we serve … Women's health is absolutely critical, and we're going to be here for the next 100 years."
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