An Animated History of Planned Parenthood, Brought to You by Lena Dunham, JJ Abrams & More

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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Comments (6)
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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:

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