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Jessica Chastain Fights to Protect Planned Parenthood in Trump Era

Jessica Chastain is one of Variety’s 2017 Power of Women New York honorees. For more women in entertainment using their voices to bring attention to worthy causes, click here

Jessica Chastain turned to Planned Parenthood as a young woman. “That’s where I got my birth control pills,” she says. “That’s where I learned about sex education. It was a very important place to me.” The Oscar-nominated actress acknowledges that such services weren’t always available.

Marco Grob for Variety

“I’m the first woman in my family not to have a child as a teenager,” Chastain says. “I’m the first one to go to college. When my grandmother was younger, she didn’t have access to birth control or sex education. My mom, the same thing. It’s very important in our society to protect women who financially don’t have the means to pay for healthcare, and Planned Parenthood does that.”

But the nonprofit, which is 100 years old, has been under fire. The Trump administration and pro-life Republicans are threatening to cut funding for the organization that provides medical services for women, including abortions. “Politicians in D.C. are mounting the biggest attack on women’s health in a generation, and blocking access to Planned Parenthood is their top priority,” says Dawn Laguens, the group’s chief brand officer. “Women are resisting these attacks. They know speaking up and speaking out can change the direction of this government.”

If the Republican legislation passes, Planned Parenthood wouldn’t receive federal funds for its roughly 650 health centers across the U.S., where 2.5 million patients visit annually for cancer screenings, breast exams, STD tests, birth control, and more.

“I’m absolutely worried that if we don’t support Planned Parenthood and healthcare for women, we’ll head backward,” says Chastain. “I guess I’m not surprised by the war on women’s healthcare. I think it’s something I’ve seen for the majority of my life.”

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