Lena Dunham drafted a host of well known friends for The History Of 100 Years Of Women's Health Care At Planned Parenthood, the short film (above) she co-directed with animator Kirsten Lepore. Others taking part in the production include comedians Mindy Kaling and Amy Schumer, actors Meryl Streep, America Ferrera, Hari Nef, Jennifer Lawrence, and Constance Wu, and producer J.J. Abrams.

But the real stars of this show are the female trailblazers who fought (and continue to fight) for access to safe and affordable reproductive care for all women, regardless of age, race, or ability to pay.




In the words of founder Margaret Sanger, a controversial figure who seems to share quite a few traits with Dunham, from her deft leverage of her celebrity on behalf of her chosen cause to her capacity for alienating fans with some of her less savory views and statements:

No woman can call herself free who does not own and control her body. No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother.

Women like Rosie Jimenez, a single mother who died from complications of a back alley abortion following the passage of the Hyde Amendment, were victimized by laws regarding reproductive choice.

Others, like Estelle Griswold, executive director of the Planned Parenthood League of Connecticut, flouted the laws to bring about change.

More recently Faye Wattleton, Planned Parenthood’s first African American president and its current president, Cecile Richards, have worked to promote awareness of both the public's rights and any impending dangers to those rights.

(Vice President Mike Pence’s inadvertent fundraising efforts go unheralded, appropriately enough. The millions of women---and men---who made small donations to Planned Parenthood in his name are the true heroes here.)

For more of Dunham’s highly visible support of Planned Parenthood, read her 2015 interview with President Cecile Richards or check out the t-shirt she designed to benefit the California Planned Parenthood Education Fund.

via Kottke

Related Content:

The Birth Control Handbook: The Underground Student Publication That Let Women Take Control of Their Bodies (1968)

Download Images From Rad American Women A-Z: A New Picture Book on the History of Feminism

An Animated Introduction to the Feminist Philosophy of Simone de Beauvoir (on Her 109th Birthday)

Download All 239 Issues of Landmark UK Feminist Magazine Spare Rib Free Online

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, theater maker and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine.  Her play Zamboni Godot is opening in New York City in March 2017. Follow her @AyunHalliday.


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  • Jonathan Collins says:

    Has anyone ever heard of a condom?! Gotta love Margaret Sanger: “The most urgent problem today is how to limit and discourage the over-fertility of the mentally and physically defective.”
    Charming. A hero of the left of course!

  • joe giordano says:

    It is about time that self-righteous men and clergy stop bullying women.

  • Mike says:

    Margaret Sanger is a pioneer in eugenics. She found a way to change the culture instead of forcing it on them. Because of her, we are able to eliminate the undesirables and help control the population. Thankfully, Sanger spent her initial time as a nurse in Harlem and was able to see firsthand the damage that was being done to humankind by people who should not breed. This experience inspired her to create a way to help control the genetics of those who are not up to par by helping to eliminate the genes of the poor, unintelligent, and other genetic defects. Thank you Openculture for making this practice Ok for us to believe. You too are helping to change the culture. Now if we could just make it so acceptable that we can decrease the population.

  • Bill W. says:

    The article lost me at ‘Lena Dunham.’ The birth control services PP offers are fine, but the single-issue platform of abortion-on-demand by modern ‘feminists’ is not. There is a large variety of birth control conveniently available to women in America, as well as educational resources. Feminists only like abortion because it gives women a consequence-free-out from their bad life-choices. Want to be a good feminist? Do so by being a good gatekeeper with a mature sense of personal accountability over who you decide to let in and visit your womb. A child (it’ll grow into nothing else) should not have to die because it’s mother couldn’t keep her legs shut, and had regrets the morning after. The abortion industry insults women by assuming they have no self-control, and thus they believe laws should be in place to protect them FOR them. Guys, wear a condom, you’re 50% of the choice (no matter what the feminazis think)!

  • Randy says:

    “No woman can call herself free until she can choose consciously whether she will or will not be a mother”

    And no man is free until he can choose consciously whether he will or will not be a father.

    It’s called equality. And men don’t have it.

  • E says:

    Wow, nothing like a Planned Parenthood video to bring out the hateful commenters. Did any of the commenters here watch the video? It addresses Sanger’s support of eugenics, but also notes that Planned Parenthood as an organization has changed––it’s called not throwing the baby out with the bath water. The U.S. rose to prominence through the massacre of Native Americans and the enslavement of African Americans––truly a human tragedy of incredible scope––but who here argues that this dark origin makes the country as it exists today illegitimate? At least be honest in why you are against Planned Parenthood, instead of pretending it’s because of a controversial figure you found out about because you already wanted to attack Planned Parenthood before you knew anything about its history. Given that no one at Planned Parenthood today professes to be a eugenicist, this argument is a very weak one.

    Bill W. and Randy are admirably honest. Bill seems most concerned to ensure that women bear the unequal burden of their misfortune by being punished with motherhood (men are fine though, their mistakes do not require consequences because…?), while Randy is most concerned that men suffer inequality when women can choose to get abortions and men can’t. So let me get this straight: women’s unequal responsibility for unplanned pregnancy is equitable and fine, but the fact that men don’t get to decide about another person’s abortion is intolerably unjust. It’s only a fair system when women have no or limited access to abortion because: women are the ones who are suffering, and men get to have their equal say in something that affects them far less! This double burden on women = okie dokie for you guys; I guess two wrongs do make a right. My point is: banning abortion is not “neutral,” because men don’t get pregnant, men don’t give birth, and men are not expected to do the majority of child-rearing duties. Some of these are brute biological realities. But given these realities we don’t say “well, nature sure screwed you! Oh well!” We try to take into account those realities and create as fair a system as we can with the lopsided situation we are given: that’s called justice.

    In all seriousness, for Randy and those who consider the fetus a full-fledged human with a right to life, I recommend reading Judith Jarvis Thompson’s defense of abortion, which grants that even if the fetus is a person with a right to life, abortion is still morally justified: https://www.wikiwand.com/en/A_Defense_of_Abortion

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