Thursday, November 15 , 2018, 1:42 am | Fair 45º


Planned Parenthood Celebrates 100th Anniversary With Birds and Bees Bash

Annual gala supports access to affordable, quality, confidential reproductive health carefor local women, men and teens

Planned Parenthood’s honored guest Maryan Schall, recipient of the Jean K. Schuyler Award, with daughters Janny Gothro, left, and Dawn Saglio. Click to view larger
Planned Parenthood’s honored guest Maryan Schall, recipient of the Jean K. Schuyler Award, with daughters Janny Gothro, left, and Dawn Saglio. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

[Click here for a related Noozhawk gallery.]

The Birds and Bees Bash brought together a large group of guests and donors for the Planned Parenthood of Santa Barbara, Ventura and San Luis Obispo Counties Annual Gala at the Four Seasons Resort The Biltmore for a festive night of passionate support.

Planned Parenthood SBVSLO provides access to affordable, quality, confidential reproductive health care to more than 56,000 local women, men and teens. With five health centers throughout the tri-counties, Planned Parenthood SBVSLO can often accommodate patients for same-day visits.

Following her vision of a world where women have a full autonomy to control their own fertility and lives, founder, Margaret Sanger, began Planned Parenthood. She was inspired by her own life experiences having seen her mother endure 18 pregnancies in 22 years, before her passing at only 49 years old.

This year Sanger’s efforts for the birth control movement will be honored with a 100th year anniversary of Oct. 16, the day she opened the first birth control clinic in the United States in defiance of laws banning the dissemination of information about family planning.

“Margaret was not deterred by unjust laws prohibiting birth control just as Planned Parenthood’s staff and volunteers are today not deterred by protesters outside of our health centers, extreme politicians determined to close our doors or ugly smear campaigns that lie about what we do,” said President and CEO Jenna Tosh to the rapt crowd. “We are not deterred today for the same reason that Margaret was not deterred. We know what’s at stake for women, our lives and our futures.”

In addition to celebrating the centennial event, the Birds and Bees Bash also honored Maryan Schall with the Jean K. Schuyler Award for her efforts in supporting local nonprofits, including three years of service in the 1990s for the Planned Parenthood board of directors and participation in “Choice Affairs” and the “Building Healthy Communities” campaign.

“It is a special honor to have my name associated with Planned Parenthood, a fearless organization that provides much-needed excellent healthcare and contraception to thousands, despite the efforts of some wrongheaded thugs to shut it down,” said Schall. “Why can’t they understand that society thrives when every child is a wanted child?”

In the year before the 100th anniversary, with a presidential election upcoming, the organization has been embroiled in a controversy and efforts by opposing groups to compromise the integrity Planned Parenthood’s trust and mission. 

“This summer’s smear campaign was so malicious and calculating that it left many of us speechless, confused and genuinely worried about Planned Parenthood’s future,” Tosh said. “News reports that Planned Parenthood health centers appeared to be illegally obtaining fetal tissue and selling it for profit seemed outrageous, and that’s because they were. Outrageous. Untrue. Lies. A smear.”

Tosh said Planned Parenthood has since been vindicated. The organization heads into its anniversary year hopeful to gain the support that it has fought to attain despite nearly 100 years of progress with the reality “that funding for Planned Parenthood hangs in the balance of every presidential election,” Tosh said, “and that safe and legal abortion is just one Supreme Court justice from being a thing of the past.”

Rising costs in healthcare have made it challenging for many to seek the medical attention they need, and the services that Planned Parenthood provides are not just in regards to birth control, with many clients approaching the organization with assistance for other lifesaving healthcare.

These vital services were noted by Laura Burton Capps, who spoke to Noozhawk on why she chooses to support the organization.

“I support Planned Parenthood because of the long-standing and vital services they provide here and to millions of women and men around the world — reproductive health care, cancer screenings, sex education, and family planning information,” Burton Capps said. “We’re lucky to have such a strong Planned Parenthood in our community — something we shouldn’t take for granted. With so many assaults on the organization and women in general, now more than ever it’s time to stand with Planned Parenthood.”

Tosh presented an example of this critical support during her remarks to the crowd.

“Last year Laura (a patient from Thousand Oaks), wrote us a note, telling us that she was concerned about efforts to defund Planned Parenthood because we were her primary source of healthcare,” Tosh said. “Laura has Medi-Cal, and last year she came to us with a lump in her breast. Laura was scared, and our compassionate healthcare team provided her an exam and linked her to the advanced diagnostic screening that she needed. Laura currently has a clean bill of health.”

The evening was a festive and vibrant evening featuring delicious food, vibrant décor and a surprise guest introduced by Joanna Kerns. Popular Los Angeles comedian Beth Stelling had the room in bouts of laughter and good cheer, while also taking a few moments to acknowledge the important messages of the night.

Comedian Beth Stelling cracks up the Birds and Bees Bash crowd while sharing jokes and her own experiences with Planned Parenthood. Click to view larger
Comedian Beth Stelling cracks up the Birds and Bees Bash crowd while sharing jokes and her own experiences with Planned Parenthood. (Melissa Walker / Noozhawk photo)

“I’ve covered various fundraisers and comedy shows around Los Angeles benefiting Planned Parenthood. I’ve also used their services over the past five years especially when I was working two jobs before I became a full time comic, and I didn’t have health insurance at the time and I was quite frankly poor and I felt safe there,” explained Stelling.

Programs provided for patients by Planned Parenthood SBVSLO include a variety of prevention-oriented services, such as Pap tests and breast exams, a broad range of birth control options including long-term methods like IUDs and implants, affordable STD testing and treatment, HIV testing and counseling, emergency contraception, pregnancy testing and counseling, vasectomy services and more.

As guests, donors and honorees embraced an evening of positivity and support for those who have been engaged in the task of keeping the organization strong, there was a constant reminder of the mission and need for sustainability, summarized by Tosh in her closing remarks: 

“Many things on our world have changed over the past 100 years, but our fundamental belief has remained the same: that every woman deserves the right, the freedom and the opportunity to follow their personal ambitions and choose their own path toward a healthier, more meaningful life — without judgment and without fear.”

Click here for more information about Planned Parenthood. Click here to make an online donation.

Noozhawk iSociety columnist Melissa Walker can be reached at [email protected]. Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkSociety, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Become a fan of Noozhawk on Facebook.

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