Jack Antonoff Supports Planned Parenthood & He's Got The Rhymes To Show It

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This article was originally published on September 22, 2015.


In "Men’s Health," the Lena-Dunham-produced first installment of Refinery29 and Planned Parenthood's Her Shorts video series, musician and songwriter Jack Antonoff is on a mission to compose a song about the many services that Planned Parenthood offers male patients. The going is slow. "I need some advice about sex, and a helping hand," he croons to his skeptical friends (Alex Karpovsky, John Early, and Sasheer Zamata). "Man, I need an HIV test, and I could use a better plan!" Antonoff's listeners are comically unimpressed. While the short, above, is lighthearted, it addresses an issue that is more urgent than ever: the care, information, and outreach that Planned Parenthood provides to over five million men, women, and children a year — services that the House of Representatives has just voted to defund entirely. We spoke with Antonoff, the lead guitarist of the band Fun., about why he chose to partner with Refinery29 to advocate for Planned Parenthood. His on-screen alter ego struggled to find the right words, but Antonoff spoke with passion about his support for sexual and reproductive health services.
How did your interest in sexual health develop? Has it always been a priority for you?
"It’s always been something that’s been on my radar. My girlfriend [Lena Dunham] and my sister and my mother have always made it something that has been a discussion in the home I grew up in [and] the home I live in [now]. And I think that, as time has gone on and I’ve gotten older, it’s sort of climbed to the top as [the one issue] that has to change and change immediately... Most issues, throughout different generations, they change and they shift, and it’s staggering that the things that my mother dealt with — we’re still talking about the exact same things with regards to women’s rights in 2015."

In many ways, it even seems that we're dealing with a backslide in the national conversation about women's health.
"I think it’s funny how it works like that. It’s weird; you expect time to move forward and things to constantly get better, but all of a sudden, I keep meeting these young, super-right-wing people, or seeing them online, and [I have] no concept of where they’re coming from… I’d love to believe it’s just a bunch of old [people] that are perpetuating this stuff...but I don’t know if that’s really true. And that’s terrifying, and that only means we have to work harder and try harder."

Why did you choose to partner with Planned Parenthood?
"Planned Parenthood is an incredible place that saves lives. It’s a place where people can go and get...information…[and/or take] specific action [with their bodies] when they need to... Planned Parenthood’s entire thing is they’re there to help… They’re there to help people make good decisions and good choices, and I don’t see anything from Planned Parenthood that isn’t just incredibly positive and focused on people having a better quality of life."
What can supporters of Planned Parenthood do now?
"I think it’s super important to be vocal about your opinions...to really raise your voice — when we find out that Planned Parenthood isn’t existing anymore in certain places, that’s a huge problem. We have to think about all of the young people growing up in those places that need help and need services.

"I think one of the most important ways, especially right now, is to vote accordingly... When we vote and when we choose leaders, there’s always a certain amount of issues that have to rise above everything else, and for me, those are issues right now of women’s rights, reproductive rights, of LGBT issues, of race issues. Those are the most important things, and I think that it’s super important [that people look at the person] they're voting for and say, 'Okay, I might like this person's economic policy or whatever, but a vote for this person means that I could be stripping a young girl’s right in Arkansas to make a decision about her body.' We live in a time when you have to put those issues up front and really think about who we’re electing."
What would you say to those who seek to defund Planned Parenthood?
"The first thing I would say is… God, I don’t even know what I would say. In my head, I’m like, You’re an idiot, which is obviously not the right thing to say. It’s a very hard one to argue, because it’s so unimaginable why anyone would take that position. I think some people think that Planned Parenthood is a place where you get an abortion and they’re just giving out abortions...[but] there’s so many services and information that come out of Planned Parenthood.

"I don’t think anyone can sit there and definitively say what someone else should do with their own body. We have to give people options with their bodies, because when people don’t have options, really bad decisions are made, and really horrible things can happen... I think Planned Parenthood gives a world of options."

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