Why This TV Powerhouse Is Joining the Board of Planned Parenthood

Photo credit: Dove. 

Photo credit: Dove. 

This morning, ELLE.com exclusively revealed the news that Shonda Rhimes – creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal and How to Get Away with Murder – will join the national board of Planned Parenthood and speak for one of the most trusted health care providers in America.

In an interview with ELLE.com, Rhimes and Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood Federation of America’s President, discuss their new partnership.

Shonda Rhimes on her reaction to Cecile Richards inviting her to consider a role on the Planned Parenthood national board:

“When someone you really admire … calls on you to serve, you say yes. The fact is that women’s health is under fire right now. And so to me, it feels like it’s important to help fight back. I just want to be of service. And I’ll do that any way I can.”

On why Richards reached out to Shonda:

“Shonda was already serving on the board out in Los Angeles, and she’s been a great supporter for a long time. But what she brings not only to this board, but frankly to the world is her commitment to lift up the stories of people who don’t always get heard, whether it’s in the way she talks about LGBT issues or women’s reproductive health care or [the way she] centers people of color on television. To me, the most important work we can do at Planned Parenthood is make sure that the voices of all those folks are heard, particularly in this political environment. And there’s just no one better at utilizing the power of storytelling than Shonda Rhimes.”

Rhimes on representatives and cable news pundits positioning Planned Parenthood as a “woman’s issue”:

“I'd put it this way: There are a lot of men who run things. And so for them, if it's not about them, it's considered an ‘other.’ I think the point of our country, our planet, the reason we're all here, one of the best things that we can do is be concerned about something even when it doesn't concern us. That's the whole point. The fact that I've never had to use a Planned Parenthood, the fact that I've never been in need of medical services I couldn't afford or didn't have access to, doesn't mean I shouldn't be concerned about the fact that other women don't have that access … When you help make people healthier, it makes the nation healthier, it makes the world healthier, it makes the economy healthier.”

Rhimes on the relative lack of “backlash” to Olivia Pope having an abortion on-screen:

“I don't know that I was surprised. But I think that the studio and the network were surprised that there wasn't a backlash. Yes, as we've all become more educated and aware, I think people have developed very different opinions over what is "controversial" and what's not … In this scene we were portraying a medical procedure that is legal in the United States of America. I wasn't sure what everybody was so concerned about. I was accurately portraying a medical procedure that the Supreme Court says people are allowed to have. I wasn't going to pull any punches. It's been a long time since Roe v. Wade, and I do think [most people] are able to have respect for other people's choices. Most people, I think, have accepted that it's not up to them to control other people's choices, except, it seems, when it comes to Washington, D.C., where everyone has an opinion about people's uteruses.”

Richards on what we can expect from Rhimes in this new role:

“The best thing we can do is just channel the enormous creative energy and storytelling ability that Shonda Rhimes already has to do our work even better. And she couldn't be joining us at a better time. When so much basic health care is under attack, as we saw just a few weeks ago, as a room full of men negotiated away maternity benefits for women, it's never been more important for people's stories to be told … Shonda has always been unapologetic about speaking truth to power. She does it every Thursday night. We're just incredibly grateful that of all the ways she could be spending her time, she's committed some of it to Planned Parenthood.”