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Planned personhood

The pro-life movement’s newest attack on reproductive rights raises its profile in Florida

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“I think we’re at a real watershed here,” she says. “I think that these kinds of issues are going to pop up. The opposition is really good at messaging, just like Republicans. And we react; we are not proactive.”

She points sheepishly at a recent rebranding exercise in which the new tagline for Planned Parenthood is “We’re here,” only half-jokingly adding that it should read, 
“We’re fucked.”

“The problem that we have is we say, ‘Let’s protect women and families.’ Eh, it’s kind of nebulous,” she says. “You’re about to lose your right and the ability to make this choice. And then people go, ‘Do we really need to be that assertive?’ Yes, we need to be that assertive. We need to take a page out of the book of our opposition. We have to come up with something.”

Despite their meager numbers thus far, Idtensohn doesn’t dismiss the potential for damage from the rising clamor of Personhood Florida. The state, she fears, is almost conservative enough to buy it, and certainly big enough for pro-choice allies to lose it. She suspects the $3 million spent to fight the initiative in Colorado could easily turn into $20 million in Florida – a suspicion clearly relished by her adversaries like Mason and Longworth. Progressives have grown complacent; young people born after the Roe decision take their rights for granted. It’s a perfect storm.

“The biggest challenge we have is how do we galvanize the people that are privately appalled by this – and I think they are – but how do we get them to voice that?” she says. “How do we get them to come to the polls? How do we get them to have a decline-to-sign petition? You know, Montana, Colorado – places that are small – are able to do those kind of things. Florida’s huge.”

There are many misconceptions about what Planned Parenthood does, thanks in large part to the pro-life movement’s messages, says Idtensohn. There is no coercion of clients into procedures, no allowance for coercion by boyfriends or parents. The office performs ultrasounds on every patient to determine gestation age and has mandatory counseling with patients. There is no moralizing; the patient’s decision is sacrosanct. Also, despite recent campaigns in Atlanta and Philadelphia decrying the “black genocide” of African-American abortions, only about 20 percent of the procedures at the Orlando location are performed on black women. Idtensohn says she expects the “black genocide” billboards to start popping up in Orlando soon, anyway, along with more crisis pregnancy centers trying to lure women away with faulty science and religious concern. It’s a constant battle.

“They say we’re murdering babies. I don’t know how to debate that,” she says. “But, again, it is a decision – to me it’s one of the more important decisions you’ll ever make in your life – and I think they think that we just drag everybody in off the street and give them an abortion.

“I think that’s a slap in the face to women,” she adds.

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