Advocates outside Dig a Pony.
  • Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon
  • Advocates outside Dig a Pony.

Tonight, Portland joined other cities across the nation in rallying support for Planned Parenthood, with "Pink Out Portland," a rally hosted by Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon (PPAO) at Dig a Pony. It couldn't have come at a better time. The health care organization has faced an abnormal amount of scrutiny in recent months following bizarre allegations from anti-choice extremists, and prolonged efforts to defund the organization from hard-line GOPers.

But at Dig a Pony, the mood was light, with a crowd of about 100 pro-choice supporters sipping a pink drink special and sporting pink T-shirts (even the bartenders). When the speeches started, they were mercifully short, starting with PPAO's interim executive director, Mary Nolan.

"More than half of our health centers are in rural or medically underserved areas, meaning that without Planned Parenthood, many patients would literally have nowhere else to turn," she said. "Heartless radical ministers say, 'Make them travel three hours for a doctor's appointment.' What do you say?"

Nolan was met with cheers of, "We stand with Planned Parenthood!"

Again, light mood. But what Nolan's saying is true: Without Planned Parenthood, many would be without access to affordable health care. Despite right-wing claims to the contrary, there often isn't somewhere else to go for affordable reproductive health care, including abortion and birth control. Anti-choice extremists have created that reality, with their nonstop attempts to shutter abortion clinics across the country through inane restrictions.

Of course, reproductive politics look a lot different in Oregon than in many other states. This past session, the legislature passed a bill mandating that insurance companies cover a year's supply of birth control for Oregonian women. It's a commonsense move: Having to repeatedly refill a prescription for, say, birth control pills, is a nuisance at best, but for some, may be the gap in coverage that leads to an unintended pregnancy.

While Pink Out events took place in over 20 states today, Planned Parenthood representatives testified before Congress in response to attempts to do away with its funding. "The latest smear campaign is based on efforts by our opponents to entrap our doctors and clinicians into breaking the law — and once again, our opponents failed," said Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, according to the New York Times.

Back at Dig a Pony, I asked Nolan how the recent attacks on Planned Parenthood have affected supporters of her chapter of the organization. "It's mobilizing our supporters," she said. Just then, an advocate clad in pink interrupted our conversation to gift Nolan with homemade "feminist confetti," colorful paper covered in slogans about smashing the patriarchy, as if illustrating what she'd just said.