Shonda Rhimes of ‘Grey’s Anatomy,’ ‘Scandal’ Fame Joins Planned Parenthood National Board

Shonda Rhimes
Richard Shotwell/Invision/AP

Shonda Rhimes, the creator of ABC’s Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, and How to Get Away with Murder, has joined the national board of Planned Parenthood.

Rhimes said Planned Parenthood president and CEO Cecile Richards invited her to become a board member, according to Elle, which interviewed both women.

“When someone you really admire…calls on you to serve, you say yes,” Rhimes explained. “The fact is that women’s health is under fire right now. And so to me, it feels like it’s important to help fight back.”

Richards observed Rhimes had been serving on the board of the Los Angeles Planned Parenthood affiliate.

She explained:

[W]hat she brings not only to this board, but frankly to the world, is her commitment to lift up the stories of people who don’t always get heard, whether it’s in the way she talks about LGBT issues or women’s reproductive health care or [the way she] centers people of color on television. To me, the most important work we can do now at Planned Parenthood is make sure that the voices of all those folks are heard, particularly in this political environment. And there’s just no one better at utilizing the power of storytelling than Shonda Rhimes.

Rhimes said there “wasn’t a time that there wasn’t a Planned Parenthood [available to me],” though she added, “And I’m fortunate. I’ve always had medical care. I’ve always had access. I’ve never personally had to use a Planned Parenthood.”

Elle asked Rhimes why she believes “women’s spaces” are so important.

“[T]he idea that there’s a place where you can go where everything is geared toward you, as a woman, is great,” she said. “But it’s a shame that we need to find places that are ‘safe’ when the world, the whole world, should be a safe place. It’s 2017, for God’s sakes. But because it needs to exist, I’m glad that there is that space.”

In November of 2015, Rhimes’s Scandal character Olivia Pope underwent an abortion while the Christmas hymn Silent Night played in the background. Following the abortion, Pope returned to the White House, where she sipped wine as Ave Maria played in the background.

Media Research Center called the Scandal episode “an hour-long advertisement for Planned Parenthood.”

“[I]n this scene we were portraying a medical procedure that is legal in the United States of America,” Rhimes said. “I wasn’t sure what everybody was so concerned about. I was accurately portraying a medical procedure that the Supreme Court says people are allowed to have. I wasn’t going to pull any punches.”

“Most people, I think, have accepted that it’s not up to them to control other people’s choices, except, it seems, when it comes to Washington, D.C., where everyone has an opinion about people’s uteruses,” she added.

Richards said she hopes to “channel the enormous creative energy and storytelling ability that Shonda Rhimes already has [in order] to do our work even better.”

“And she couldn’t be joining us at a better time,” she continued. “When so much basic health care is under attack.”


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