This weekend at SXSW, the #TechStandsWithPP campaign was launched to bolster support for Planned Parenthood, starting with the tech community. It was announched by a seemingly odd coupling: Parent Planned and the popular microblogging platform Tumblr. Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood was paired with David Karp, Founder and CEO of Tumblr.
Richards and Karp advise those who support Planned Parenthood's mission to be more vocal and visible than before, using the #TechStandsWithPP hashtag to share stories about how Planned Parenthood has touched their lives and communities.
While at first the pairing seems a bit out of the blue, Karp is actually a board member of Planned Parenthood. The rallying hashtag is encouraging the tech community to take action and vocalize their support for Planned Parenthood.
In addition to their SXSW session moderated by Aminatou Sow (Editor at Large, Racked/Vox Media), the two also co-authored a blog post published on Planned Parenthood's Tumblr page, explaining their stance further.
Times have certainly changed: when Planned Parenthood was founded one hundred years ago, it was illegal to even hand out information about birth control. Now, millions of people have access to Planned Parenthood services like birth control, cancer screenings, and STI testing and treatment.
Planned Parenthood continually provides health information to nearly 70 million people online and 1 million people in classrooms and communities across the country. Studies indicate that the US now has its lowest number of unintended pregnancies in 30 years, not to mention the lowest teen pregnancy on record.
Richards and Karp's Tumblr post explains that the current political climate makes it more important than ever to support Planned Parenthood's mission:
All of that progress is a reminder of how much women and men in America now stand to lose. Extreme politicians at every level of government are doing everything they can to block millions of people from coming to Planned Parenthood, deny access to affordable health care, and roll back women's rights over their own bodies. We are facing a national health disaster, especially in our most vulnerable communities.
Richards and Karp are asking the tech industry to join Tumblr in supporting with Planned Parenthood's mission of giving access to health care to those who need it.
"A 100-year-old health care provider and the platform powering 335 million blogs may seem like an unlikely pair," Richards and Karp note. "But over the last few years, Tumblr and Planned Parenthood have teamed up to provide information and organize communities in support of reproductive rights. We're proud of all we've accomplished together and with overwhelming support from the Tumblr community."
Of course, technology has the potential to support Planned Parenthood's mission, and has been an instrumental tool in supporting fairness and equality in a number of ways. "It has the power to influence public debate, mobilize communities, and--most importantly--offer creative solutions to help people receive better care, no matter where they live or who they are," write Richards and Karp, who believe that the tech industry owes its success to both of its employees as well as the communities it serves, whose health needs are often partially met by Planned Parenthood itself.
"It won't be easy, but doing nothing isn't an option when lives are at stake," Richards and Karp write. "We need to work together to break down barriers to care and information for the millions of people desperate to take ownership of their sexual and reproductive health, and tackle disparities in health care access and outcomes."
To their credit, Richards and Karp have more planned at SXSW, joining forces for a rally on Sunday, March 12 at 6:00pm themed "Never Going Back." Planned Parenthood and Tumblr will be teaming up to bring community activism to the forefront of the SXSW Interactive festival. This event, which will be open to the publics, will feature live performances by local DJs and bands popular on Tumblr, including Sleigh Bells, Girlpool, Hoops and PVRIS. Planned Parenthood reps will be on site to share resources, literature and ways to get involved and stay active. Attendees will also be able to donate to Planned Parenthood through a special fundraising page, which is, of course, available to the general public as well.