After the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby this summer, thereby holding that certain businesses can claim religious exemption from Obamacare's contraception mandate, pundits were quick to predict it could be a boon for women's get-out-the-vote efforts.
What they did not predict is that the face of the effort would be Scarlett Johansson.
The star of Lucy, Under the Skin, and Her may seem like a strange choice, but for anyone paying attention to Planned Parenthood Action Fund's forays into celebrity-studded advocacy, it shouldn't come as a surprise.
Last year, Johansson worked with Planned Parenthood to help enroll people in insurance plans under the Affordable Care Act. In 2012, she made women's health a central theme in her speech at the Democratic National Convention. And in 2011, she discussed the importance of Planned Parenthood health centers for womens' basic preventive health care in a catchy one-minute video. Now she's designing T-shirts for the cause.
"When I heard that some politicians were cheering the Supreme Court's decision to give bosses the right to interfere in our access to birth control, I thought I had woken up in another decade," Johansson said. "Like many of my friends, I was appalled by the thought of men taking away women's ability to make our own personal health care decisions."
While she hasn't always identified as a feminist, Johansson has been pointing out Hollywood's misogyny more and more in recent years. In 2008, she discussed the film industry's double standards in its treatment of aging stars, and in a recent interview with Glamour she discussed her dislike of the press's nickname for her, ScarJo, saying: "There's something kind of violent about it. There's something insulting about it." It's the kind of nickname that men don't get assigned, she added.
Johansson's new effort is the first of three celebrity-designed clothing items that will be released ahead of the midterms. (Others participating include Gabrielle Union, star of the BET series Being Mary Jane, and Orange Is the New Black stars Natasha Lyonne and Selenis Leyva.) And there's reason to think Planned Parenthood's message will resonate.
A March poll conducted by Hart Research Associates found that 81 percent of female voters think prescription birth control should be covered as a preventive health service, at no additional cost to prescribers. And a majority of Americans think that a woman and her doctor should be the ones making health care decisions.
"We're proud to partner with Scarlett Johansson to engage and mobilize millions of young women in what is shaping up as a critical election from women," said Dawn Laguens, executive vice president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund. "We're going to make sure that women all across the country know where candidates stand on access to affordable birth control, Planned Parenthood's preventive health services, and safe and legal abortion, and we're going to elect leaders who trust women."
Johansson's signature shirt (which reads: "Hey Politicians! The 1950s called… They want their sexism back!") comes as part of a broader campaign. The effort will include outreach in key states such as North Carolina, Colorado, and Alaska, where women's rights have been a central talking point on the campaign trail and where just last week Planned Parenthood launched its largest political ad buy of the cycle.
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