Planned Parenthood CEO Alexis McGill Johnson appears to be bucking a longstanding narrative about her organization, contending that it shouldn't try to minimize the role abortion plays in its mission.
In an interview published Tuesday, McGill Johnson told The Washington Post that while abortion was a very small part of their activities, it was a "critically important part of what we do."
She added: "So I think when we say, 'It’s a small part of what we do,' what we’re doing is actually stigmatizing it. Like: It’s really not a big deal that Planned Parenthood does this. We are a proud abortion provider. We believe that abortion is health care, and we believe, fundamentally, that self-determination begins with being able to control your own body and freedom begins with being able to control your own body. So I don’t like to marginalize it in that way."
Her comments come years after a tense battle over the group's congressional funding. During that time, media outlets reiterated Planned Parenthood's claim that abortion represented only 3% of its services -- something fact-checkers and conservatives have criticized.
Earlier this year, the organization reported a record number of abortions with 345,672 for the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
Under President-elect Biden, that funding and other priorities for the group may likely enjoy renewed support. Newsweek previously reported that after spending an unprecedented $45 million in the 2020 elections, the organization is seeking to shore up policy changes with the new administration.
McGill Johnson has specifically called on President-elect Biden to sign an executive order on his first day in office that rolls back several anti-abortion measures implemented under the Trump administration.
"We have been working for quite some time with our coalition partners in sexual and reproductive health, rights and justice to come up with what we call the Reproductive Blueprint First Priorities," McGill Johnson told Time magazine in an interview published Wednesday.
"And key among them are on day one, an Executive Order that will demonstrate the Administration’s commitment to sexual and reproductive health care."
The order, she said, would repeal a policy blocking funding for overseas abortions, roll back the exemption Trump carved out for the Affordable Care Act, and remove Title X grant restrictions.
Many of Trump's accomplishments on the issue have come at the executive rather than Congressional level, meaning that Biden could quickly reverse that work in a new administration.
Planned Parenthood's agenda also plays offense, though, with an eye towards repealing the Hyde Amendment, a decades-old, bipartisan provision that blocks federal funding for most abortions. McGill Johnson told the Post that the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade, which leading Democrats have vowed to codify at the legislative level, was just the "floor."
"We know that Roe has been what many reproductive justice colleagues call 'the floor,' because there are many places where there is not a provider or easy access to a provider," she said.