Shonda Rhimes, the creator of television shows such as “Grey's Anatomy” and “Scandal,” has joined the national board of Planned Parenthood, she told Elle Magazine in an interview alongside the organization’s president and CEO Cecile Richards.
"The fact is that women's health is under fire right now," Rhimes told the magazine. "And so to me, it feels like it's important to help fight back."
In the interview published Thursday, Richards said she asked Rhimes — who was already serving on the board of the organization’s Los Angeles affiliate — to join the national board because “she's been a great supporter for a long time.”
Richards said Rhimes’ addition to the board will be useful “particularly in this political environment.”
“There's just no one better at utilizing the power of storytelling than Shonda Rhimes,” she said.
Rhimes said that although she has “never personally had to use Planned Parenthood,” she has friends who have and believes that “it's important that that access be there for everyone.”
Her show “Scandal” made headlines in 2015 when it depicted its main character Olivia Pope, portrayed by actress Kerry Washington, undergoing an abortion to the tune of the Christmas hymn “Silent Night.”
Asked about the “backlash” that resulted from the scene, Rhimes replied, “I don't know that I was surprised.”
“In this scene we were portraying a medical procedure that is legal in the United States of America,” she said, adding:
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. It's been a long time since Roe v. Wade, and I do think are able to have respect for other people's choices. 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.
Rhimes said she has not “totally defined” what she wants to do in her new role, “but mostly, I want to be of service — in any way that I can.”
“And if that is helping to convey messages, that is what I'm going to do,” she said. “If it's rolling up my sleeves and getting to work, that is what I'm going to do.”
Richards said, “The best thing we can do is just channel the enormous creative energy and storytelling ability that Shonda Rhimes already has to do our work even better.”
She said that Rhimes tells stories “we need folks in Washington to hear.”
“Shonda has always been unapologetic about speaking truth to power,” Richards said. “She does it every Thursday night. We're just incredibly grateful that of all the ways she could be spending her time, she's committed some of it to Planned Parenthood.”