Bulman: “I would like to begin with thanking you again for agreeing to meet with me for an interview. I’m required to get your formal permission before we began, yet let me tell you more information about the project. This interview is being used for a class project on Reproductive Rights, mainly focusing on the demand for Planned Parenthood. The project is for my Health and Physical Education class in Social Issues in Health. I will be sharing information from this interview with my professor and classmates.
You are free to skip a question or even end the interview at any time if you become uncomfortable or have another another reason for doing so. There are no negative consequences if you do so. Do I have you permission to continue? May I also have permission to use your position or title if I quote you?”
Johnson: “Yes, I give you my full consent to move forward with the interview.”
Bulman: “Wonderful, I’d like to begin with your job title —
Johnson: “I am the Director of Public Engagement at Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the Planned Action Fund.
By engaging political, media, entertainment and even corporate mentors to influence and shift culture among the perception of reproductive rights.”
Bulman: How did you come to working with Planned Parenthood?
Johnson: “I began my communications career at GEICO’s corporate headquarters after graduating with a B.A. in communication and leadership studies from Christopher Newport University. Before joining Planned Parenthood, I served on the campaign to reelect President Barack Obama at its Chicago headquarters in 2012.
I originally went to college to pursue a career in broadcast journalism, however I began to understand how communications strategies actually shape policy and politics. So I scratched the reporter plans and moved to D.C. to get involved in public service. ”
Bulman: “Why is Planned Parenthood an Important resource for millennials?
Johnson: “Being able to decide when, if and how you will have children, or even family planning, is significantly important for millennials who at this point in their lives, are making important decisions for their families, careers, health, and the future. Each year Planned Parenthood serves 2.4 million people – that’s more than 8,000 a day -with basic reproductive health care like cancer screenings, birth control, STD testing and treatment, regular checkups, and safe, legal abortion. At a time when health care isn’t always affordable or accessible, Planned Parenthood plays a vital role in being there for people who need healthcare.”
Bulman: “Planned Parenthood defeated the repeal of the Affordable Care Act three time (which would block Medicaid patients from seeking care at Planned Parenthood.) How has Planned Parenthood been affected by the current administration?”
Johnson: “In the first year alone, Trump and his administration have issued a rule that allows employers to deny birth control coverage to employees, undermined teen pregnancy prevention programs, taken away protections for sexual assault survivors and transgender people, pushed abstinence-only programs, and tried to block patients from getting care at Planned Parenthood health center. They’ve also issued a domestic gag rule that would radically change the way healthcare operates in this country, and worsen existing barriers to care by telling healthcare providers they must withhold information about pregnancy options.
Even in this environment, with the current administration, some states are introducing preactive legislation like Oregon, women can now get birth control directly from a pharmacy without a doctor’s prescription ahead of time: or my home state of Virginia where they are pushing for paid family leave and protect access to affordable birth control for everyone woman. Overall, while this could all look dire, I’m actually encouraged because theses attacks have motivated people of all backgrounds to rise up and fight back across the country. Which is how we defeated the repeal of the Affordable Care Act three time to protect Planned Parenthood has gained a record number of 1.5 million new supporters in the last year alone, totaling 11.5 million supporters.”
Bulman- “What would you advise millennials who are passionate about shifting vulture, fighting for justice through communication strategies.”
Johnson- We often lose of our mission by comparing ourselves to other people and their journey. Figure out your purpose, be confident in your own personal journey and not be so worried about what other people are doing; including social media as well. Stay rooted in your convictions. I’m personally a believer of Jesus (the lover of all people, disruptor and activist: not the watered down version) and I’m a lover of people, especially those being oppressed. There will be times when quick success or opportunity may ask you to compromise your beliefs, morals, and the reason you are doing such life-changing work. Everything that I do, every opportunity I’m afforded, every room I’m invited to or step into, I remember those two — take risks only out of love for those in need. And once you’re confident that the risks are worth it for the greater good, find your voice and use it.