Shonda Rhimes Joins Planned Parenthood’s National Board

There’s no need to wonder where Shonda Rhimes stands on women’s rights and the necessity of Planned Parenthood. The media maven was already serving on the organization’s Los Angeles board but now she’s taking her efforts to the national level.

Rhimes told Elle that when Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards invited her to consider the new position, she didn’t hesitate.

“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.”

When Elle asked Richards why she chose Rhimes for this position, she said.

“…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 now 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 said that it’s time for people to be concerned about issues that don’t affect them directly.

“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. I think that’s important. The same way there shouldn’t be men going around saying, “Well, it’s just a women’s issue” because it doesn’t involve their uteruses because they don’t have them. That’s such a simplistic and silly way to look at this. Obviously, it concerns them. It should obviously concern them. When you help make people healthier, it makes the nation healthier, it makes the world healthier, it makes the economy healthier.”

In the discussion, Rhimes and Richards also talked about Olivia Pope’s fictitious abortion on “Scandal” and the lack of backlash she received because of it.

“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. I’m constantly having the conversations; I had a lot of conversations when we did that scene in which I tried to explain that just like all the scenes I did on Grey’s Anatomy, 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.”

Read the full discussion between Rhimes and Richards over at Elle.