Hollywood super-producer Shonda Rhimes says she finds it distressing that in 2017, women’s health needs to be protected as if it were an endangered species.
In a speech at Planned Parenthood’s 100th anniversary gala in New York Tuesday night, where she earned the evening’s Champion of Change award, Rhimes — who recently joined the board at the organization — discussed how her hit television shows including Scandal and Grey’s Anatomy offer a glimpse into how the world would look if women were “running things,” and lamented that the female anatomy itself could become extinct in today’s political climate.
“In 2017. Women’s health needs protecting. Like some kind of endangered species. Like, holy crap, vaginas might go extinct,” the showrunner said in her speech, according to a transcript provided to Variety.
“In the 21st Century. Women’s health needs protection,” she continued. “And I am supposed to be an actual champion. Of Change. Which means I am supposed to have CHANGED things. Like a champion.”
Rhimes was introduced by actress Meryl Streep at the star-studded event, which was attended by other celebrities including Julianne Moore, Chelsea Handler, Scarlett Johansson and Tina Fey. The gala event also honored former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.
In her speech, Rhimes said that the women’s health storylines presented in the “Shondaland” shows she produces for ABC each season are guided by two “simple facts.”
“Fact 1 – I just can’t get over the fact that a room full of straight white men who couldn’t find a vulva with two hands and a flashlight are insistent on telling me and all my friends what to do with the vagina we have been driving around America for our entire lives,” she said.
“Fact 2,” she continued. “When women’s health needs are taken care of, when women have the right to determine their reproductive future, to screen and treat STDs, to get life-saving pap smears, their families are stronger, their work lives are more productive, their self-esteem rises and they feel empowered. Women are HAPPIER.”
Rhimes concluded her speech by vowing to do “champion-y things” to support women’s health initiatives.
“Women should be running things. But we aren’t. Not everywhere. Not yet,” she said. “There is so much work to be done. And not a lot of time to do it.”
“As we speak, politicians in Washington are still doing everything they can to roll back the rights and progress we’ve fought so hard for over the last century,” Clinton said. “I mean, could you believe those photos of men around that conference table deciding how to strip away coverage for pregnancy and maternity care?”