Shonda Rhimes has joined the national board of Planned Parenthood, doubling down on her outspoken commitment to women's health.
The creator of "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal" and "How to Get Away with Murder" was already serving on the Los Angeles board, but Planned Parenthood Federation of America president Cecile Richards invited her to take a larger role in the face of today's political climate.
“When someone you really admire … calls on you to serve, you say yes," Rhimes said in a joint interview with Elle.com. "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. I just want to be of service. And I'll do that any way I can.”
Richards said, "What 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 at Planned Parenthood is make sure that the voices of all those folks are heard, particularly in this political environment."
Rhimes has never shied away from addressing women's rights in her shows. In November 2015, "Scandal" showed a brief scene of Olivia Pope having an abortion - a moment that had executives bracing for a backlash, but actually received a relatively mild reaction from viewers.
"In this scene we were portraying a medical procedure that is legal in the United States of America," said Rhimes. "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."
She added that these days, most people 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."
Richards said Planned Parenthood was hoping to channel Rhimes' creative energy to tell the stories of women who need their services.
"When so much basic health care is under attack, as we saw just a few weeks ago, as a room full of men negotiated away maternity benefits for women, it's never been more important for people's stories to be told … Shonda has always been unapologetic about speaking truth to power. 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."