In the ongoing battle over women’s reproductive health, high-profile GOP politicians haven’t exactly praised Planned Parenthood. However, George W. Bush’s daughter, Barbara, spoke in favor of the organization. In a conversation with Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards for the New York Times, Bush said that part of the mission of her organization, Global Health Corps, is counting on millennials looking to effect change in the health industry.
“So many young people want to work on social change. They want to do good,” she said. “Global Health started because this great talent pipeline was not moving into health care. It’s hard to know how you fit in if you’re not a doctor or nurse. If we can demystify that and create channels into Planned Parenthood and other exceptional organizations, then we’ll have an army of people working to solve health problems.”
Part of the goal, Bush said, is to create a health system outside of party lines. “It’s crazy, and sad to think that health care is a polarizing issue, because it’s not a polarizing space,” Bush said. “As a human, I hope everyone is healthy. And what happens in other places matters here.” Both Richards and Bush have worked in public health and witnessed the political procedures surrounding health care access. “Since I was born, in 1981, we’ve had the drugs to save the millions of kids around the world who die every year,” Bush said. “Yet the number of deaths hasn’t dropped at all. We have the tools to keep people healthy, but the systems are broken.”
Richards agreed: “It’s the same in reproductive health. We have the technology. But it’s not enough unless there’s public policy that supports getting women access to care.”
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Planned Parenthood also wants to be removed from the two-party battle. “My biggest hope is that we can take partisanship out of this arena,” Richards said. “Not to get too political, but we have Republican patients and staff members and board members. The need for health care doesn’t come with a party label. Under the Affordable Care Act, every woman who has health insurance gets birth control at no cost. That’s 55 million women. We don’t have to invent a new kind of birth control. We just have to close the lid between needing it and delivering it. And I’m optimistic that we’re on the cusp of making that happen.”