For over 80 years, Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC (PPMW) has provided high quality, judgement-free medical care for families in DC, Maryland, and Northern Virginia. PPMW’s three health centers are located on the traditional, ancestral, unceded territory of the Anacostan and Piscataway peoples. Today, there are over 20,000 Indigenous people living in the region that PPMW serves. PPMW will continue to seek ways to partner and honor our Indigenous neighbors.
Structural racism, cis- and hetero-normativity, patriarchy, and white supremacy are ongoing public health threats. And they are not new. Centuries of inequality and the COVID-19 pandemic have highlighted that Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) disproportionately become ill and die from health care inequities, public health disasters, police violence, and xenophobic policies and practices. There is nothing intrinsic to these communities that increase vulnerability to these threats; it is racist, homophobic, and transphobic policies that diminish BIPOC and LGBTQIA+ persons’ ability to access nutritious food, safe quality housing, healthcare (including mental healthcare), economic mobility, and personal bodily autonomy. The communities that are the most negatively impacted by exclusionary policies and practices that impact quality of life also represent a majority of the patients and program participants that we serve.
We are committed to public health by dismantling white supremacy. Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. (PPMW) values the fundamental freedom of all people to control their own bodies, their lives, and their futures. Central to this work is addressing the systems that threaten this goal. We recognize that the work of dismantling racism and white supremacy will be ongoing, and we’ll rise to the challenge time and again. It is our responsibility to work towards building a society in which equity is a reality: where every person’s right to dignity, justice, and autonomy is fully recognized and protected; where accessing quality healthcare doesn’t depend on who you are or where you live; and where our community works together so that every person has the opportunity to lead their healthiest life. This is why PPMW has worked over the last several years to expand telehealth services, at-home testing and treatment options, sliding scale pricing, and expanded our locations and service hours to aid in ensuring our patients can access care when and how they need.
White supremacy and systemic racism permeate every American institution; medical and feminist spaces are not exempt. PPMW recognizes how Planned Parenthood’s beginnings perpetuated systemic racism. Margaret Sanger, the founder of the organization that went on to become Planned Parenthood, believed in eugenics, which is in direct opposition to our mission. Planned Parenthood denounces Margaret Sanger’s belief in eugenics, the history and legacy of anti-Blackness in gynecology and the reproductive rights movement, and all forms of mistreatment that continue against BIPOC in this country.
It is our priority — and responsibility — to ensure we are part of the solution in fighting inequity not only in our health centers, but in the halls of our local governments and in the streets. Recognizing that the barriers our communities face are systemic, we will put additional resources into our advocacy for legislation that promotes access to care, autonomy, and quality of life for our community. Ensuring equitable access to quality health care and sex education helps break down and eliminate stigma, inequities, and cycles of oppression. Additionally, PPMW will continue to utilize an equity lens to consciously ascertain the impact of every one of our policies and practices on our community members and staff particularly those who are BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, or hailing from other historically marginalized groups.
As our strategic plan demonstrates, we will continue to put our patients, staff, and community at the center of everything we do. We embed equity into our work from the ways we design care and train staff, to the choices we make in plans for expansion. We prioritize expanding how our patients access care, ensuring their ability to access it in ways that fit their lives. It’s important to us that the care they receive is high quality, designed to address individual needs, and is affirming. We actively work to collaborate with community partners and individuals from historically excluded groups in these efforts. As we do this work — in the spirit of our principles of respecting and honoring all people, and constantly evolving to be a more representative and justice centered organization — we will continue to solicit and accept honest feedback, and continuously learn from our mistakes with grace and humility. We pledge to work every day until full health, dignity, belonging, and self-determination are a reality for everyone.