5 Reasons I’m Going To Planned Parenthood’s Youth Organizing & Policy Institutes – And You Should Go, Too

I’m one of the hundreds of people signed up to go to Planned Parenthood’s Youth Organizing & Policy Institutes this fall.  Here are the top five reasons I hope you’ll be joining me there.

1.  Because this is your movement. 

Though your mothers and grandmothers (and even great-grandmothers) fought for access to basic family planning options, states across the country are working harder than ever to roll back the progress made decades ago on everything from birth control to sexual health information, contraception, abortion, and even lifesaving vaccinations.

Since 2010, lawmakers have introduced more than 2,000 reproductive health provisions in legislatures nationwide, most of which would cut basic health services and restrict access to breast exams, cancer screenings, birth control, and abortion.

It’s not just women’s health that’s at stake — these same state legislatures are working to turn back the clock on a whole host of related issues, including devastating cuts to education, new restrictions on voting rights, redoubled efforts to block LGBT equality, and more.  What are they thinking?

We both know there is strength in numbers and that’s why we’ve got to stick together to make sure fights about matters of fairness and basic equality go the way of landlines and black and white TVs.

2.  Because everyone deserves affordable, quality health care.

For nearly 100 years Planned Parenthood has been fighting to ensure that American women have access to health care and information.  Planned Parenthood is the nation’s leading sexual and reproductive health care provider and advocate.  Yet Planned Parenthood is under attack nationwide.  We need you to join the fight to ensure equal access to health care and to pitch in and help protect the health care providers one in five women in America depend on.

3.  Because the truth matters.

One in four teenagers in the U.S. attends an abstinence-only program that does not provide information about birth control.  The consequences of unsafe sex are grave, with far too many teens in our country facing unintended pregnancies and STDs.  According to the CDC, young people aged 15-24 represent nearly half of all new STDs occurring in the U.S., yet they comprise just 25 percent of the population.

Knowing how to stay healthy is not only smart, it’s your right.  Open communication with partners, health care providers, and peers is essential — so is the importance of speaking truth to power.  At the Youth Organizing & Policy Institutes, we will be learning tactics to help set the record straight on the importance of sex ed, preventive health care, or any other issue that matters to you, and strategies to influence decision makers on these issues.

4.  Because birth control is not just a health issue, it’s also an economic issue. 

Because President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act into law two years ago, 3.1 million young adults throughout America gained health care coverage through the age of 26 under their parents’ insurance plans.  In addition, as of August 1, women have started to gain access to birth control without co-pays and in the coming months, millions more will begin to see that benefit.

But while we were celebrating a historic victory in the Supreme Court, opponents of health care reform launched an immediate and vicious backlash in Congress and in several state Capitols.

They don’t care what the Supreme Court says, and they don’t care how many Americans are already receiving lifesaving care thanks to the health care law.  All elected officials need to hear from us — from you — that we won’t go back on health care reform.

5.  Because your vote matters.

It’s up to us  we are the game changers.

As President Obama said, “change begins with you,” so join us at the Youth Organizing & Policy Institutes to learn more about how you can continue the good fight begun by your mothers and grandmothers (and even great-grandmothers) to effect change in your community.

I’ll see you there!

Elizabeth Reaser is one of entertainment’s most reliable actresses, demonstrated through her natural talent, striking presence, and undeniable energy.  She earned an Emmy nomination for her guest spot as Ava on Grey’s Anatomy, and has appeared in films such as The Art of Getting By, Young Adult, and Sweet Land, for which she earned a 2007 Independent Spirit Award nomination for Best Actress.

Reaser’s role as the matriarch of the Cullen clan in the fourth and final installment of “The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2″ can be seen in theaters on November 16, 2012. She will next be seen in “Liberal Arts,” opening nationwide on September 14th. The film, written and directed by Josh Radnor, also stars Radnor, Elizabeth Olsen, Richard Jenkins, and Allison Janney. 

Reaser graduated from The Julliard School of Arts.  She currently splits her time between New York and Los Angeles.