‘Hacks’ Star Poppy Liu on Resigning From Repro Justice Nonprofit to Protest Its Silence on Gaza

“Big political organizations who are bound by their donors, aren’t going to save us,” Liu told Jezebel of resigning from SisterSong. “We have to keep pulling at threads, asking who are we scared of…?”

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‘Hacks’ Star Poppy Liu on Resigning From Repro Justice Nonprofit to Protest Its Silence on Gaza

In 2019, Hacks star Poppy Liu joined the board of SisterSong Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective, an organization that advocates for maternal health and reproductive justice and centers women of color. She came to the reproductive justice movement after sharing her abortion story in a short film and collaborating with Healthy and Free Tennessee, which introduced her to SisterSong. Liu was one of the only members of the board who didn’t come from a nonprofit background, instead working in the entertainment industry in addition to her work as a full-spectrum abortion doula. She’d soon come to see SisterSong as her “political home,” Liu told Jezebel.

But this week, Liu says she was heartbroken to resign from the board with two other members—activist Coya Artichoker and one former board member who’s remained anonymous. In a resignation letter they co-signed, which Liu shared on her Instagram on Tuesday, the resigning members said they could no longer sit on the organization’s board “due to SisterSong’s silence on Palestine for the past 140+ days.” On Thursday evening, SisterSong shared a statement acknowledging “what is happening to Palestinians in Gaza is a reproductive justice crisis” and calling “for an immediate ceasefire to the violence in Gaza.” The statement comes short of naming Israel, identifying the United States’ role in Israel’s war on Gaza, or, as Liu states in her letter, naming apartheid conditions that Palestinians face or calling the Israeli attacks a genocide.

“It is a very real question: who are we afraid of here? What sort of genocidal alliances have we made behind the scenes?”

“In the case of Palestine more than any issue in the world, silence equates to complicity,” Liu and Artichoker’s Tuesday letter says. The letter begins by detailing why the ongoing crisis in Gaza is a reproductive justice issue, which they assert that organizations like SisterSong have an obligation to act on in a timely manner. “As we write this message, the miscarriage rate in Gaza has risen by 300%, over 50,000 pregnant people are in need of urgent care, mothers are undergoing c-sections without anesthesia, hospitals have become literal graveyards, and on average 2 Palestinian mothers are killed every hour.” The letter also cites how “over 13,000 children have been killed in the last 140 days,” “infants in the NICU have been left to decompose in hospitals that have been bombed by Israeli air raids,” and “those that are alive do not have access to food, water or medical care.” Further, “every single one of these atrocities is enabled by the US government.”

“SisterSong calls itself a ‘movement voice [that is] called on by the United Nations, White House, legislators, media, and leaders of large mainstream organizations.’ There is a world in which SisterSong rises to this moment by leveraging its power to amplify the Free Palestine movement and demanding a ceasefire in the name of Reproductive Justice straight into the ears of the policymakers we have access to,” the letter, which Liu told Jezebel she wrote and rewrote “maybe 10 times,” continues. “Instead we have been given a myriad of reasons for why SisterSong cannot speak up and a succession of vague promises and timelines resulting in months of continued silence.” (As mentioned above, SisterSong did finally call for a ceasefire Thursday night.)

“It is a very real question: who are we afraid of here? What sort of genocidal alliances have we made behind the scenes?” the letter concludes. “We wonder what type of allies we are dependent on, who hold their right to commit genocide above our right to condemn genocide.”

Since their resignation, Liu and Artichoker said they couldn’t speak to internal conversations within the organization or responses they’ve received. Both emphasized to Jezebel—as they write in their letter—that they continue to love the organization deeply and hope that by resigning, they could help move SisterSong toward accountability. SisterSong did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Liu and Artichoker’s letter or their comments about the organization. But the organization’s Thursday statement says that SisterSong “[calls] for unity within the movement and [asks] for continued grace from those who support us as we counter injustices. … We are grateful for calls to grow and expand our work to achieve a global impact.”

“We are glad that SisterSong has finally spoken out, but we want to add that the statement should explicitly name what is happening in Gaza as a genocide committed by Israel and enabled and financed by the US,” Liu told Jezebel’s following SisterSong’s statement. “This is a step in the right direction and we hope that the Reproductive Justice movement, beyond just SisterSong, continues to step up and show solidarity with the movement for a liberated Palestine.”

Liu and Artichoker’s resignation from the SisterSong board comes at a time of significant internal turmoil among reproductive rights and justice organizations over whether and how to address Israel’s U.S.-funded war on Gaza, which has seen over 30,000 Palestinians killed in under five months, with particularly vicious impacts for pregnant people, women, and children. Organizations like Planned Parenthood and Reproductive Freedom for All (formerly NARAL) have consequently faced backlash and criticism from their own employees or other advocates in the reproductive rights and justice space, for either silence or mild statements on Gaza, and for standing with the Biden administration. Liu and Artichoker told Jezebel they’ve spoken with other SisterSong board members who have expressed hurt and disappointment with the organization’s delayed action on Gaza, and are unsure about how they’ll move forward.

As experts at several humanitarian groups have told Jezebel, there is nowhere safe for pregnant women to give birth; pregnant, birthing, and menstruating people face a high risk of infection; and women going into labor are forced to walk to hospitals or birth in public bathrooms. Speaking to Jezebel, Liu said she’s been particularly horrified by how Israel seems to be “deliberately” making Gaza unlivable for pregnant women as a means to “target their reproduction,” and prevent future generations of Palestinians from being born. “This is a genocide,” she emphasized.


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“One-hundred-forty days is a long time [for SisterSong] to say nothing, and sometimes I’ll think, ‘I should have resigned sooner’—but I did stay and hope for a long time, and ask at least six or seven times for the organization to take action,” Liu said. Artichoker told Jezebel that she “heard a different answer” every time she asked the organizational leadership about advocating for Gaza, beyond SisterSong’s 2022 statement of support for Palestine but ultimately, “nothing happened,” prior to the organization’s Thursday statement. Artichoker found herself “heartbroken and confused about the past versus the present” state of the organization given its initial unwillingness to take a stand on Palestine today—a sentiment that Liu shared. “SisterSong is the first RJ [reproductive justice] group that really identified state violence as a reproductive justice issue,” Liu said. (In their letter, they call on SisterSong to “connect the threads between the violence Palestinians experience under the IOF [Israeli Occupation Forces] with the violence our own communities experience domestically under a militarized police.”) 

As an actress and filmmaker, Liu has also tried to organize support for Palestine and a ceasefire in the entertainment industry but says she’s struggled to rally her colleagues amid what she sees as heightened “McCarthyism” targeting those who support Palestine. Liu helped gather signatures for the Artists for a Ceasefire letter, which she describes as “moderate if not conservative—it doesn’t even call for an end to the occupation, just a ceasefire.” The letter, she says, “should have been a very easy yes,” but she faced an equal split of people who were enthusiastic and people who declined. “The fear is intense,” Liu said. “But the Zionist machine relies heavily on media propaganda and cultural narratives, so if you have any amount of cultural capital, there’s a responsibility to use it to shift the narrative.” 

The intense fear that Liu describes among her colleagues in Hollywood transcends industries: She and Artichoker both see it among their colleagues in the reproductive rights and justice space, too. Fear, in particular, seems to drive some organizations’ steadfast support for Biden’s reelection campaign, pointing to how much more harm a second Trump presidency would inevitably inflict on our already dwindling reproductive rights. But as an Indigenous person, Artichoker says she’s unmoved by major reproductive rights organizations’ insistence that she unquestioningly fall in line with Biden. “I recognize settler colonialism and genocide when I see it, whether it’s what the U.S. did to Indigenous people or what Netanyahu and Israel are doing to Palestinians,” Artichoker said. The insistence that she or anyone involved in the movement for reproductive justice has an obligation to Biden “just because the other option’s worse” doesn’t resonate with Artichoker.


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“What we’re facing right now is a bigger question for the reproductive justice movement: Who are we right now?” she said. As part of her decision to resign from SisterSong’s board, Artichoker says she was disappointed by what she saw as the “corporate-ization” of the organization; she sees this mirrored in several other leading groups in the reproductive rights and justice space. “What does it mean when RJ organizations start to get so big, get so much access, particularly to the [Biden] administration, but there’s no using that power to demand accountability? We [SisterSong] had a lot of access there, and that seemed to impact our willingness to say something about Palestine, because we didn’t want to lose that access.”

Liu told Jezebel that even as the end of her time at SisterSong has devastated her, she remains hopeful. She and Artichoker have both found inspiration from grassroots reproductive justice groups like ARC-Southeast, Indigenous Women Rising, and several abortion funds that immediately and vocally expressed support for Palestine. In October, ARC-Southeast shared a letter of solidarity with Palestinians, denouncing how Israel’s policies and occupation of Palestine have denied Palestinians bodily autonomy. The letter drew dozens of signatories including IWR, the National Network of Abortion Funds, and the Feminist Women’s Health Center, and states:

“Zionism denies Palestinians the right to exist, thrive, and have autonomy over their bodies, something that impacts Palestinians of all genders and ages. This racist ideology is incompatible with reproductive justice because we know firmly that settler colonialism denies the core tenants of RJ. Zionism is a contradiction to Reproductive Justice.”

“Nonprofits, big political organizations who are bound by their donors, aren’t going to save us,” Liu said. “We have to keep pulling at threads, asking who are we scared of, who’s stopping us from speaking up, what alliances to which people in power are we scared to lose, and who are we allowing to lead our justice movements? We have to be honest with ourselves.”

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