Planned Parenthood leadership rallied around its Greater Texas faction at the Planned Parenthood Awards Luncheon held Monday at the Hyatt Regency Dallas, an event that raised a record-breaking $870,000 in support of critical health care services across the state.
President of Planned Parenthood Federation of America Cecile Richards, who gave the keynote address, called Texas “the pride of this organization.”
Richards has spoken in front of Congress on behalf of patients whose lives have been saved by Planned Parenthood’s cancer screenings and wellness exams. On Monday, she wanted to demonstrate that Planned Parenthood also serves Dallas.
And Dallas was out in force. The room was full, with some 1,400 people in attendance. Luncheon co-chairs Amy Isom, Gwen Parker, and Abigail Sinwell of Highland Park were not alone in representing their community either.
Highland Park High School graduate and actress Stephanie March gave Richards’ introduction, and students from Hockaday and the Episcopal School of Dallas were on-hand to collect donations from guests.
Kenneth Lambrecht, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, thanked prominent families for showing their support by attending, including the Hills and the Perots.
Richards herself talked about growing up on Lover’s Lane. The focus was on community, and a community’s need for healthcare. “What’s special about Dallas,” said Lambrecht, “is that we are a non-partisan group.”
Texas has had a complicated relationship with Planned Parenthood.
The organization went under criminal investigation in Houston following the series of fraudulent videos released last fall by an anti-choice group; then they were exonerated and the videos’ creators indicted instead, by a grand jury led by Republican Devon Anderson, Harris County’s District Attorney.
And then there’s Texas’ HB-2, which is currently under the gun at the Supreme Court.
If HB-2 is upheld – a decision expected in late June – Texas could become a blueprint for the rest of the country in shutting down health centers.
But Dallas is not Texas. In fact, Dallas and Fort Worth have both managed to open new health centers since HB-2 was passed. In a time when health centers are closing across the state, Dallas County now has four Planned Parenthood health clinics, where 15,000 patients are seen annually.
The fact that Planned Parenthood has managed to grow here was a cause for celebration that sidelined recent controversies.
Instead of getting mired in politics, the message was unfailingly positive, focusing on the people who benefited from the health services provided by Planned Parenthood, and on the strong support the Dallas community has given the organization.
As Richards said, “Healthcare is not, and never should be, a partisan issue.”