Philly-area Planned Parenthood sees unprecendented surge in volunteers

“We are still here. Our doors will remain open no matter what.”

Since Donald Trump won the presidential election last Tuesday in stunning fashion, Planned Parenthood has seen a surge in donations and inquiries to volunteer — and the branch here in the Philadelphia area has seen what can only be described as an “unprecedented” amount of interest.

Dayle Steinberg, CEO at Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA, said the week before the election, the organization — which operates 12 locations that serve more than 60,000 patients in the Delaware Valley area — fielded six applications to volunteer. In the week since the election, they have received 135. That’s a more than 22-fold increase. Visits to their volunteer page on their website increased, too. In the week before the election, the volunteer page had 47 visits. In the week since, it’s had 833.

That’s leading to a backlog in processing. But Steinberg said anyone interested in volunteering should continue to be patient — someone will get back to them, and Planned Parenthood can use their support.

Planned Parenthood of Southeastern PA has also seen a significant uptick in donations. In the week before the election, four people donated directly via the donation page. In the week since, 165 people have donated. And that doesn’t account for any of the support the local chapters will receive from what’s been an outpouring of donation’s to Planned Parenthood national.

When it comes to treating patients, the southeastern Pennsylvania branches have in the last week also experienced a 10-fold increase in the number of women inquiring about intrauterine devices (AKA IUDs) or other forms of long-acting contraception.

“Women are coming in saying ‘Trump is president, I better get my birth control now,'” Steinberg said.

Since Trump’s election, scores of activists have mobilized in a variety of fields, including women’s reproductive rights. Trump has said he’d be in favor of repealing Roe v. Wade, the 43-year-old landmark Supreme Court case that protects a woman’s right to choose to terminate a pregnancy and outlaws state statutes that would ban or criminalize abortions.

After Trump is inaugurated on Jan. 20, he’ll have the ability to nominate a Supreme Court justice to replace the late Antonin Scalia, and with a Republican-led Senate, his (probably very conservative) nominee is likely to be confirmed. That could tilt the lean of the court in Republicans’ favor. It might not be enough to overturn Roe v. Wade, but it gets pro-life activists much closer.

Planned Parenthood and other pro-choice organizations also have serious concerns about Vice President-elect Mike Pence who, as governor of Indiana, signed what’s considered one of the most restrictive abortion bills in the country. He’s vehemently pro-life and, as a congressman, led a 2011 effort to completely defund Planned Parenthood and threatened a government shutdown if it didn’t happen. There’s currently a movement of people donating to Planned Parenthood in Pence’s name and sending him the receipt in the mail. Since Trump’s win, Planned Parenthood national has received an “unprecedented” 80,000 donations.

Steinberg said Planned Parenthood saw upticks in donations and volunteer inquiries when the government shutdown was threatened in 2011 and when the Susan G. Komen foundation made the decision in 2012 to cut grants to Planned Parenthood. But the support was nothing like this. And Steinberg expects it to continue.

“There’s no reason to believe that just because an election was won by those who oppose us that we need to relinquish our power,” she said. “Times are tough. We are tougher.”

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