Our highest honor, the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Margaret Sanger Award, is presented annually to recognize leadership, excellence, and outstanding contributions to the reproductive health and rights movement.
Dr. Willie Parker
Ellen R. Malcolm
Nafis Sadik, MD
Jane Hodgson, MD
John Rock, MD
The Reverend Martin Luther King Jr.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sparked the conscience of the nation as he courageously and selflessly gave direction to the early civil rights movement in the United States. Resisting bigotry, inspiring women and men worldwide, and advancing social justice and human dignity, he also lent his eloquent voice to the cause of worldwide voluntary family planning. Both he and Margaret Sanger challenged unjust laws, cruel social customs, and blind prejudice that still hold people in ignorance, poverty, and despair. Mrs. Coretta Scott King delivered her husband’s acceptance speech on his behalf, saying, “There is a striking kinship between our movement and Margaret Sanger’s early efforts. … Our sure beginning in the struggle for equality by non-violent direct action may not have been so resolute without the tradition established by Margaret Sanger and people like her."
General William H. Draper
General William H. Draper was responsible for the first official recommendations that the U.S. government help other nations, on request, to deal with population issues. In 1959, as chairman of President Eisenhower’s Committee to Study the Military Assistance Program, he published the “Draper Report,” which recommended the inclusion of family planning assistance in the foreign aid program. He was a founder of the Population Crisis Committee, a member of the governing board of the International Planned Parenthood Federation, and a special consultant to the United Nations Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA). General Draper’s administrative, negotiating, and fundraising skills resulted in international programs that recognize the role of population growth in economic development and respect the reproductive health needs of individuals.
Carl G. Hartman, MD
Dr. Carl G. Hartman was one of the world’s leading specialists in embryology and the physiology of reproduction. His research conclusively established the role of the endocrine system in the reproductive process and helped lay the groundwork for the development of modern birth control. A scientist and educator, he authored seven textbooks and more than 200 articles in scientific journals. Dr. Hartman was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1937 and received the Squibb Award (1946) for work in endocrinology and the Lasker Award (1949) for research in human fertility. A long-time head of the Planned Parenthood Research Committee, he praised Margaret Sanger who, he said, “saw the need for research to make birth control methods more effective. …”
President Lyndon Baines Johnson
President Lyndon Baines Johnson singled out the need for family planning as one of four critical health problems in the nation as a central element of his administration's War on Poverty. To carry out his mandate, the U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare developed a program to provide contraceptive services for low-income, married women, and the U.S. Agency for International Development began providing contraceptives in its overseas development programs. President Johnson placed the prestige and influence of his office behind legislative and administrative actions to increase funding and staffing for voluntary family planning services for those who need them most, here and around the world.
John D. Rockefeller III
John D. Rockefeller III was instrumental in organizing the 1974 United Nations World Population Conference, the first government-sponsored conference on population. Attendees adopted the World Population Plan of Action, which established voluntary family planning as a basic human right, pledged improvement in the status of women worldwide, and gave high priority to contraceptive research. In 1952, he founded the Population Council, an international, nonprofit institution that conducts biomedical, social science, and public health research. Mr. Rockefeller’s own words illustrate his lifetime concern with population issues: “Our real concern is not with abstractions and negative controls, but with the quality of human life. Our goal is the enrichment of life — creating conditions that will enhance human dignity and the attainment of the individual’s full potential.”
The Honorable Ernest Gruening
Ernest Gruening launched the effort to recognize family planning in federal policy, particularly in regard to U.S. international family planning policy. After receiving his medical degree from Harvard, he became a crusading journalist instead, and later was managing editor of the New York Tribuneand editor of The Nation and New York Post. Switching to politics, he was governor of Alaska from 1939 to 1953, during which time he helped enact an anti-discrimination law ensuring equal rights for native Alaskans and white Alaskans. Later, as a senator from Alaska from 1959 to 1969, he introduced legislation in 1965 to establish offices of population in the Department of State and the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. While the bill did not pass, the resultant hearings, which lasted three years, raised awareness of the importance of population issues to world peace, economic development, and individual well-being, with an emphasis on personal freedom and equal access to medical services. He served as honorary vice chairman of PPFA from 1969 to 1973.
Hugh Mackintosh Foot
Hugh Mackintosh Foot, otherwise known as Lord Caradon, was noted for his strong and farsighted leadership in the area of international family planning and population issues. He came from a notable liberal family, and he and his two brothers, Labor members of Parliament, were known as “The Three Left Feet.” Lord Caradon spent 30 years in the British Colonial Service, serving as an ambassador to the United Nations and as the governor-in-chief and captain-general of Jamaica and the governor and commander-in-chief of Cyprus when both were British colonies. He was credited with bringing rival Greek and Turkish leaders together to form an independent republic in Cyprus and was an integral part of the United Nations group that investigated and condemned South Africa’s apartheid system. As a three-time president of the United Nations Security Council, Lord Caradon was also intimately involved in the creation of Resolution 242, which set out intricate guidelines for the Israeli-Palestinian peace process. In recognition of his work he was knighted by King George VI in 1951, and became a life peer in 1964.
The Honorable Joseph D. Tydings
Senator Joseph D. Tydings guided Congress toward recognizing family planning as a basic human right of all Americans. He introduced 15 different bills concerned with the provision of family planning services and the exploration of population issues. In 1966, when he first introduced legislation to provide voluntary family planning services to American women, such services were virtually nonexistent. The following year, he led the way as Congress included family planning services in the maternal and child health provisions of the Social Security Act amendments and in the Economic Opportunity Act amendments. He also worked for the inclusion of family planning provisions in foreign aid legislation.
Louis M. Hellman, MD
Louis M. Hellman, MD, founded the family planning clinic at the College of Medicine of the State University of New York, where doctors and nurses from around the world learned procedures that enabled them to establish similar clinics in their homelands. He also recognized that nurse-midwives could alleviate the doctor shortage in family planning clinics. In 1958, he defied the New York municipal hospital system’s ban on prescribing contraception, initiating a citywide revolt, led by Planned Parenthood, which succeeded in lifting the taboo on family planning in New York City public hospitals. He served as deputy assistant secretary for population affairs, U.S. Department of Health, Education, and Welfare; and as chair, Advisory Committee on Obstetrics and Gynecology, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, where he headed studies that reviewed the benefits and risks of oral contraception.
Alan F. Guttmacher, MD
Alan F. Guttmacher, MD, served as PPFA president from 1962–1974. He fought successfully for development of federally funded domestic and international family planning programs and also helped block the efforts of demographers and politicians who urged coercive methods to halt population growth. Playing a crucial role in the development of the birth control pill and IUD, he was also a strong and articulate advocate for teen access to contraception and a woman's right to safe and legal abortion. Dr. Guttmacher joined the birth control movement in the 1920s when he was an intern, after witnessing a woman die from a botched abortion. Throughout his career, his motivation was to end discrimination in medical care based on class or race. In the 1950s, he helped end the ban on prescribing contraception at New York City’s municipal hospitals, which provided the bulk of medical care for the poor.
Christopher Tietze, MD, and Sarah Lewit Tietze
Christopher Tietze, MD, and Sarah Lewit Tietze, leading authorities on the demographic and public health aspects of human fertility and its regulation, were the first to compare detailed estimates of the mortality risks of contraception, abortion, and childbearing. The1973 U.S. Supreme CourtRoe v. Wade decision, which legalized abortion nationwide, was based in part on the results of their research. Émigrés from Vienna and Russia, respectively, Dr. and Mrs. Tietze married and collaborated on many projects while working for the Population Council. Dr. Tietze was involved with the major national reproductive health and rights groups, and served on seven World Health Organization scientific groups concerned with human reproduction. They authored or coauthored 250 scientific papers, more than 100 of which were on abortion. Dr. Tietze’s greatest legacy was the introduction of rational, scientific means for assessing contraceptive safety and efficacy and identifying the effects of abortion policy on maternal health.
Harriet F. Pilpel, JD
Harriet F. Pilpel, JD, championed privacy and reproductive rights over a long and distinguished legal career. In 1936, after graduating from Columbia University Law School, she assisted attorney Morris Ernst in preparing a landmark case, United States v. One Package, which challenged the U.S. government's seizure of a shipment of contraceptive devices that Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger had ordered from a Japanese physician. Renowned Judge Augustus Hand ruled that the seizure stemmed from an insupportably limited reading of the federal Comstock law, which classified birth control as obscene. In preparing the case, Pilpel and Ernst marshaled an impressive body of evidence documenting the broad positive impact of contraception on maternal health and well-being. A prominent advocate for women’s rights, Pilpel was a member of the Commission on the Status of Women for both the Kennedy and Johnson administrations, and served as PPFA's general counsel for many years until her death.
Cass Canfield was chairperson of PPFA from1959 to 1961 and then later of the International Planned Parenthood Federation. Along with his lifelong dedication to reproductive rights, the other great passion in his life was editing and publishing books. He produced works by James Thurber, Thornton Wilder, John F. Kennedy, and Eleanor Roosevelt, eventually rising to the position of chairman of the board of Harper & Row (now known as HarperCollins). He put his reputation for success in business at the service of reproductive rights, gaining respect for our cause from other leaders of communications corporations. He believed in the importance of augmenting the volunteer strength of Planned Parenthood with a core of full-time professionals. And he realized the necessity of expanding the reproductive rights movement to developing nations to foster economic and human development.
John Rock, MD
John Rock, MD, the first scientist to perform in vitro fertilization of a human ovum in a test tube, was best known for his participation in the production and clinical testing of the oral contraceptive, i.e., the pill. In 1924, he started one of the nation’s first fertility clinics in Brookline, MA. A professor of gynecology at Harvard University, he continued treating infertility until his retirement. Father of five and grandfather of 19, Dr. Rock, a devout Catholic, believed his church should accept the birth control pill, which he saw as comparable to the so-called “rhythm method” because it mimicked the body’s natural endocrine chemistry.
Bernard Berelson, PhD
Bernard Berelson, PhD, was a professor at the University of Chicago and director of the Ford Foundation’s Behavioral Sciences Program. In 1962 he moved on to the Population Council, where he became president in 1968. At the Pop Council, he initially worked on communication research, and one of his innovations was an audiovisual kit for delivering family planning messages to nonliterate communities. Dr. Berelson was the originator of the first periodical to disseminate results of family planning studies to the international community; the prime force in organizing an international conference on family planning programs; and the creator of a cooperative international postpartum hospital program to provide family planning information and services. He was a scholar who combined research and academic careers with the pursuit of practical solutions to family planning concerns.
Julia Henderson, an associate commissioner at the UN, joined the International Planned Parenthood Federation (IPPF) in 1971 as secretary-general. During the years of her leadership (1971–1978), IPPF’s membership grew from 72 nations to 94, and the federation gained complete freedom in the allocation of its funds, contributed by 25 governments. After her retirement, she continued to study international population issues for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund. In 1991, Ms. Henderson, at age 75, won the United Nations Population Award. Addressing a symposium on World Population Day, July 11, 1991, she stressed the link between family planning and health and environmental problems. She also noted that better education for girls and improving the status of women in developing countries are essential in reducing birthrates and raising living standards. Ms. Henderson said that family planning “is a matter of human rights and sound child welfare policy.”
Frederick S. Jaffe
Frederick S. Jaffe was a leader in helping achieve national recognition of the right of individuals to make their own private childbearing decisions. He helped expand access to reproductive health services wherever the need was greatest — in rural communities and among the young and the poor. He created the PPFA Center for Family Planning Program Development, which later became The Alan Guttmacher Institute. In his work on reproductive biology and population policy with the Ford and Rockefeller Foundations, and in his books on reproductive rights, he argued that institutions and people can learn the principles of scientific theory and that scientific theory should be used to enhance social policy.
Edris Rice-Wray, MD, PhD
Edris Rice-Wray, MD, PhD, was a pioneer in the tradition of Margaret Sanger. She founded Mexico's first family planning clinic, La Asociación Pro-Salud Maternal, in Mexico City in the early 1960s at a time when Mexicans spoke of birth control only in whispers. By 1970, the facility had 30,000 registered clients and a staff of more than 80. In Puerto Rico, Dr. Rice-Wray carried out the first field study of oral contraceptives and helped set up 72 public health units where condoms, diaphragms, and spermicides were distributed. Her practice of teaching nurses in the clinics how to fit patients with diaphragms was considered revolutionary at the time. Dr. Rice-Wray also conducted sexuality education classes in jails, clinics, and at PTA meetings.
Alfred E. Moran
Alfred Moran spearheaded the development of outstanding family planning services in New York City. As CEO of Planned Parenthood of New York City, he established a service policy for teenagers; created a youth program involving parents, educators, and public service agencies; and launched a citywide pregnancy-prevention program for adolescents. He also helped to organize the New York City Family Planning Council and the Committee for Legal Abortion, and was co-founder of the New York State Abortion Education program and the New York State Coalition for Family Planning. Mr. Moran also provided expert testimony before various legislative committees and commissions dealing with reproductive health and was a consultant to other family planning organizations and many public service agencies nationwide.
The Honorable Robert Packwood
Senator Robert Packwood (R-OR) was a major force in protecting and extending the right of all people to exercise choice in deciding the size and spacing of their families. His unwavering record in support of reproductive health and rights was instrumental in shaping a positive climate for and increasing public awareness of reproductive health issues. He was the first to advocate a broad range of reproductive health services, and as early as 1970 sponsored a bill to legalize abortion nationwide. Sensitive to the family planning needs of low-income families in the United States and abroad, he consistently supported federal funding for reproductive health care and repeatedly led the fight against restrictions on access to services.
Mary S. Calderone, MD
Mary S. Calderone, MD, was a leader in the fight to expand availability of and access to comprehensive, age-appropriate sexuality education, thereby promoting healthy human sexuality. As a physician, educator, author, editor, public speaker, and internationally recognized authority on sexuality education, she increased awareness of the crucial link between sexuality education and family planning. In her remarkable career she served as co-founder and president of the Sex Information and Education Council of the United States, medical director of PPFA, and adjunct professor of human sexuality in New York University’s Department of Health Education.
Sarah Weddington, Esq.
Sarah Weddington played a vital role as a Texas attorney in winning the 1973 Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion nationwide. In 1972, she became the first woman elected from Austin to the Texas House of Representatives. Serving three terms as a state representative, she supported the use of nurse practitioners in family planning, the rights of minors to family planning services, and the right of Planned Parenthood to provide services; in addition, she successfully led efforts to block all anti-abortion legislation. From 1978 to 1981, as assistant to President Carter, she was an advocate for the Equal Rights Amendment and worked on the selection of women nominees for the federal judiciary. In 1979, she hosted a White House reception in honor of the 100th birthday of Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger. Ms. Weddington was able to translate her beliefs in the fundamental rights and freedom of the individual into action that served to improve the life and health of all American women.
The Honorable William G. Milliken
William G. Milliken (R), a member of the Michigan State Senate from 1961 to 1964, held the office of Michigan lieutenant governor from 1965 to 1969, during which time he worked for social service reforms. As governor of Michigan from 1969 to 1982, he worked for the provision of adequate sexuality education in schools, adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment, citizens’ right to privacy, and comprehensive health care. Governor Milliken used the power of his office to help ensure the preservation of the American family, which depends on the family members’ right to reproductive choice. Ten times during his tenure, the Michigan legislature passed bills to prohibit the use of Medicaid dollars to finance abortions for poor women, and 10 times Governor Milliken vetoed those bills on the grounds that poor women cannot be denied a right that the U.S. Supreme Court extended to all other women. He steadfastly maintained his commitment to the struggle for human rights and the right of every individual to freedom of reproductive choice.
Madame Jihan Sadat
Jihan Sadat, the former first lady of Egypt, was the second wife of former Egyptian President Anwar Sadat, who was assassinated in 1981. A world-renowned advocate for women’s rights, she was responsible for the Egyptian Civil Rights Law, which advanced equality in Egyptian law and society. Born to an Egyptian father and English mother, Sadat was raised as a Moslem but attended Christian schools. After marrying her husband, Sadat set up cooperatives in Egyptian villages for peasant women, established orphanages, pressed her husband to support family planning, and pushed for legislative reform, including a law that allowed 30 Parliament seats to be filled by women and one that gave women the right to sue for divorce while retaining custody of their children. Called a “supreme pragmatist,” she received a doctorate after her husband’s assassination, and went on to teach and lecture around the world.
Katharine Houghton Hepburn was born in Hartford, CT, to a doctor and a suffragist. After attending Bryn Mawr College, where she began acting, she appeared on Broadway before breaking into films with 1932’s A Warrior’s Husband. Although she was nominated for Oscars 12 times, and won four of them, she was never content to stay within the confines of Hollywood. It was a habit she learned from her mother, also named Katharine Houghton Hepburn, who helped found the birth control movement and Planned Parenthood with Margaret Sanger. In 1981 Ms. Hepburn and Planned Parenthood began a successful collaboration, including a fundraising letter signed by Ms. Hepburn that raised $1 million. In 1988, PPFA established the Katharine Houghton Hepburn Fund in honor of both the mother and the daughter.
Bishop Paul Moore
Paul Moore was born in Morristown, NY, and attended Yale. A Marine captain, he was awarded the Navy Cross, the Silver Star, and the Purple Heart. After being discharged in 1945, he attended General Theological Seminary and was ordained in 1949. An early advocate of ordaining women, he was made bishop of the New York Diocese in 1972. Bishop Moore was a champion of the marginalized, suing landlords to integrate public housing and ordaining the first lesbian Episcopal priest. Under his tenure, the diocese’s seat, the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine, was revived into a vibrant seat of cultural and religious worship, used for everything from circus performances to rallies against racism. Although he retired in 1989, Bishop Moore continued to speak out vocally on the relationship between religion and progressive social policies until his death. He will always be remembered for being, as The New York Timescalled him, the “consummate urban priest.”
Guadalupe de la Vega
Guadalupe de la Vega, also known as the “Margaret Sanger of Mexico,” has been called the “moving spirit” of family planning in her country. In 1955, she founded and ran the Red Cross Youth Committee in Monterrey, and she founded and ran the Young Women’s Association, Friends of the Blind, and the Juarez Red Cross Women’s Association. She also founded the first maternal/child health and family planning program in Juarez, using community-based contraceptive distribution for the first time in Mexico. In 1981, she founded and became the first president of FEMAP, the Mexican association of private family planning associations. Over the years FEMAP has founded a hospital and several clinics, educated sex workers and others about HIV/AIDS, worked to improve environmental health and sanitation, and even run programs to keep young people away from gangs, drugs, and violence.
Mechai Viravaidya is Thailand’s foremost family planning and sexual health education advocate. Thanks to his work, in Thailand, a condom is known as a “mechai.” The founder and chairperson of the Population and Community Development Association of Thailand (PDA) and a recipient of many awards, including the 1997 United Nations Population Award, he has worked tirelessly since 1970 to promote safer sex and family planning. His methods are often innovative. At his Condoms & Cabbages restaurants, for instance, diners are presented with a plate of condoms instead of after-dinner mints. Largely as a result of his efforts, the Thai population growth rate dropped from 3.4 percent in 1968 to 1.2 percent in 1996, and more than 70 percent of Thai women now use contraception. The World Bank called a Thai government program initiated by Viravaidya, “one of the most successful and effective family-planning programs in the world.”
Jeannie I. Rosoff
Jeannie I. Rosoff was born in France, where she received a degree in law from the University of Paris before emigrating to the United States in 1948. A tireless advocate for family planning causes, she was instrumental in the passage of Title X federal family planning legislation and was one of the first to document the problem of teen pregnancy in America. She served as PPFA’s special projects coordinator and associate director of PPFA’s Center for Family Planning Program Development. In 1978, she became president of The Alan Guttmacher Institute (AGI), a position she held until 1999. Under her leadership, AGI expanded its reputation as a global expert on reproductive rights and health. She was said to combine “an almost mythical intuition about what makes people tick … with very hard work.”
Phil Donahue is widely credited with inventing the talk show platform, and it was one from which he consistently advocated for women’s rights, reproductive choice, and freedom of speech. The recipient of nine daytime Emmys and the Christopher Reeve First Amendment Award (2003), Donahue retired for the second time in February 2003. His long television career was marked by an honesty and integrity rarely seen in today’s television talk shows. From its very first episode in 1967, The Phil Donahue Show tackled controversial issues like school prayer, abortion, politics, and AIDS. Donahue’s audience was predominantly female, and he made a point of educating women about reproduction, abortion, and birthing techniques, even when his shows were banned by local affiliates for being too controversial or graphic in nature. He was called “the original activist as [TV] host.”
Eppie Lederer, who wrote under the pen name Ann Landers, was considered responsible for making the advice column a modern phenomenon. Her concise and clever style nurtured several generations of readers, who wrote to her with vexing questions about every topic imaginable. A dedicated liberal, she used her column as a sounding board to promote open and public discussion of family and sexuality, while maintaining a traditional sense of personal morality and responsibility that encouraged her enormous readership to trust her advice. She began writing “Ann Landers” in 1955, at a time when public figures were supposed to avoid controversial topics, but she attacked them head-on. She was particularly supportive of women’s reproductive rights, telling Time Magazine, “For years …I have taken a strong stand against the church or state telling women what they can and cannot do with their bodies."
Abigail Van Buren
Abigail Van Buren, known to her millions of readers as “Dear Abby,” began her advice-giving career only a few months after her sister, Eppie Lederer, began publishing the “Ann Landers” column in 1955. A staunch supporter of women’s reproductive rights, she used her public voice to encourage men, women, and teens to communicate openly and responsibly about sex, family, marriage, reproductive health, and women’s rights. In the late 1980s she began advising readers with questions about reproductive health, pregnancy, and abortion to consult their local Planned Parenthood centers. When criticized by anti-choice ideologues for her recommendations, she pulled no punches, using her columns to expose their disingenuous and coercive tactics. Her daughter, who also is named Abigail Van Buren and who took over her mother’s column in the 1990s, continues her mother’s legacy as a staunch supporter of Planned Parenthood and reproductive choice.
Henry Morgentaler, MD
Henry Morgentaler, MD, was born in Lodz, Poland, to a Jewish family. Between 1940 and 1945 he was imprisoned first in the Lodz Ghetto, and then in Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps. Upon liberation, he began studying medicine in Germany, Belgium, and Canada, and became involved in the Humanist movement. After receiving his medical degree he served as the director of the Civil Liberties Union in Montreal, and in 1968 established a reproductive rights clinic that provided abortions in Montreal. During the next 20 years, Dr. Morgentaler underwent four trials for performing illegal abortions, and was imprisoned once for 10 months. In 1983 he opened two more clinics, in Toronto and Winnipeg. Finally, in 1988 the Canadian Supreme Court ruled Canada’s abortion law unconstitutional and dropped all charges against Dr. Morgentaler. He said of the decision, “For the first time, it gave women the status of full human beings able to make decisions about their own lives.”
Mufaweza Khan began her family planning advocacy in the early 1970s by going door to door in the slums of Dhaka, Bangladesh, providing advice and information to Muslim women who never left their homes and had no contact with the outside world. The recipient of the Center for Development and Population Activities’ 2002 Women’s Global Leadership Award, Khan has been the executive director of Concerned Women for Family Planning (CWFP) for 26 years. CWFP serves low-income women throughout Bangladesh, and has outpatient clinics and programs in 13 provinces. Over the years, CWFP has expanded to encompass a range of projects empowering Bangladeshi women, including family planning services, micro-credit lending, educational programs, and AIDS initiatives. “Women were able to capitalize on opportunities,” Khan has said, “only when they stopped being victims of their own fertility.”
The Honorable Bella Abzug
Bella Abzug (D-NY) was a pioneer in American politics and the women’s rights movement. In the 1950s and 1960s, she was a labor lawyer, attorney with the ACLU, and leader in the civil rights and anti-McCarthy movements. She was the first Jewish woman elected to the House of Representatives (1970) and one of only 12 women in the House at the time, founding the National Women’s Political Caucus and authoring numerous bills aimed at preventing sex discrimination and improving women’s status. After leaving Congress, she served as the co-chair of the National Advisory Committee on Women from 1977–1978 until she was fired by President Jimmy Carter for criticizing his budget cuts to women’s programs. In response, she founded Women USA, a grassroots political action organization, and co-founded the Women's Environment and Development Organization, an international activist and advocacy network. A fiery advocate for women’s rights, she once said, “Women have been trained to speak softly and carry a lipstick. Those days are over.”
Faye Wattleton was the first woman to lead Planned Parenthood after its founder, Margaret Sanger, and the first black woman and youngest person to ever hold the post. She earned a BS degree in nursing from Ohio State University and MS degree in maternal and infant health, with certification as a nurse-midwife, from Columbia University. Her clinical rotation introduced her to the toll of illegal abortion — that year, approximately 6,500 women were admitted to Harlem Hospital for complications from incomplete abortions. She worked as a nurse in Dayton, OH, for three years before becoming the CEO of that city’s Planned Parenthood affiliate. Eight years later, she was named president of the national organization and, under her leadership, from 1978–1992, PPFA became the nation’s seventh-largest charitable organization. The author of a memoir, Life on the Line, and a member of the National Women’s Hall of Fame, she is the founder and president of the Center for the Advancement of Women.
Richard Steele, Audrey Steele Burn and, Barbara Steele Williams
Audrey Steele Burnand, Barbara Steele Williams, and Richard Steele, the children of Harry and Grace Steele (another daughter, Virginia Steele Scott, died in 1975), spent their lifetimes supporting the arts in Orange County, CA, higher education throughout California, and family planning on a national scale. The three siblings served as the Board of Directors for the Harry and Grace Steele Foundation, never drawing a salary, and always shunning the limelight. Despite their aversion to the public eye, however, the Steeles gave away more than $70 million dollars between 1953 and 1991. The foundation was the single largest donor during that time to IPAS, the International Projects Assistance Services, an international family planning group, and was a major supporter of PPFA. According to Richard Steele, lack of access to family planning and the resultant population problems were "the root of all evil.”
Fred Sai, an internationally renowned advocate for women and adolescents’ reproductive health and rights, was born and educated in Ghana. He attended the Harvard School of Public Health on a World Health Organization Fellowship in 1959, and co-founded the Ghana Planned Parenthood Association. Serving as the director of medical services for Ghana from 1970–1972, Sai played an integral role in developing the nation’s population policies. The president of the International Planned Parenthood Federation from 1989–1995, Sai participated in several major international and national conferences on family planning, including the International Conferences on Population in Mexico City in 1984 and in Cairo in 1994. The recipient of numerous awards, he is an honorary professor of community health at the University of Ghana Medical School, and an advisor on population, reproductive health, and HIV/AIDS to the president of Ghana.
Jane Hodgson, MD
Jane Hodgson, MD, is the only physician in U.S. history to be convicted of performing an abortion in a hospital. In 1971, she provided an abortion for Nancy Widmeyer, a 23-year-old mother of three with German measles, who agreed to serve as a test case for the Minnesota law banning abortions. After being arrested and convicted, Hodgson was in the process of appealing to the Minnesota Supreme Court when Roe v. Wade was decided, overturning her earlier conviction. Once abortion was legal, she played an integral role in establishing abortion services in Minnesota. More than 15 years after Roe, she was also the lead plaintiff in the U.S. Supreme Court case Hodgson v. Minnesota, where she unsuccessfully challenged a parental notification statute that required a teenage girl to notify both parents before getting an abortion. She was a founding fellow of the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists.
Justice Harry A. Blackmun
Justice Harry A. Blackmun made his mark on reproductive rights and American history in 1972, when he authored the majority decision in Roe v. Wade, thereby establishing as a matter of law a woman’s constitutional right to choose abortion. Born in Illinois, Blackmun received his undergraduate and legal degrees from Harvard, and was admitted to the Minnesota Bar in 1932. When he was appointed to the U.S. Supreme Court in 1970, he was a moderate conservative. But over the 24 years he spent on the Supreme Court bench, he became progressively more liberal. An intellectually rigorous judge, he nevertheless was always concerned with the human stories behind the cases that he heard.
Louise Tyrer, MD
Louise Tyrer, MD, was born in Shanghai, the daughter of Seventh Day Adventist missionaries. Exposed to the dire conditions of poverty early on, she became acutely aware of the ways in which lack of access to reproductive health care perpetuated the cycle of poverty and despair. After obtaining her medical degree, Tyrer established a private practice in Reno, Nevada, where she treated local prostitutes whom no other doctor would see. In 1970 she was the first woman to be hired as a full-time staff physician by the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists in Chicago. She joined PPFA in 1975 as its first vice president for medical affairs, and later went on to serve as medical director of the Association of Reproductive Health Professionals. An ardent advocate of mifepristone, she was instrumental in bringing the drug to the United States, and she continues to work to protect women’s reproductive health and choices.
Robin Chandler Duke
Robin Chandler Duke grew up in Baltimore, MD, the daughter of Catholic lawyers. She left school at 16 and went to New York, where she worked first as a department store model and then as a fashion editor, while also finding time to co-found the first Girl’s Club of New York. In 1961 Duke met U.S. Ambassador Angier Biddle Duke, and they were married seven months later. Her commitment to family planning efforts led her to take on an extraordinary variety of roles. She served as president of NARAL Pro-Choice America, president of the National Abortion Rights Action Committee, consultant for the United Nation Fund for Population Activities, chair of Population Action International, trustee of the Planned Parenthood Foundation, and U.S. ambassador to Norway. Her tireless activism led one writer to quip, “Duke is an action verb disguised as a person.”
The Reverend Howard Moody
Howard Moody is, according to The Village Voice, “a longtime activist and one of the stalwarts of the religious left.” He was born in Dallas, TX, and ordained in the American Baptist Church and the United Church of Christ. He began his activist career in the 1950s working with drug addicts and prostitutes out of his parish in Greenwich Village, where from 1956–1992 he served as the senior minister of Judson Memorial Church. In the pre-Roe years, Moody was a dedicated supporter of reproductive rights, and in 1967 he organized the Clergy Consultation Service on Abortion, which helped women obtain safe, illegal abortions. The founder of an interfaith group called Religious Leaders for a More Just and Compassionate Drug Policy, Moody has spent his life working to improve the lives of the most marginalized members of society always aiming, in his words, to “stir up … compassion.”
Nafis Sadik, MD
Nafis Sadik was born in Jaunpur, Pakistan, to a conservative Muslim family, but her father believed in educating his children equally, and Sadik attended medical school in Karachi and did her internship in Baltimore, MD. In 1952 she returned to Pakistan, where she married and practiced obstetrics and gynecology in rural communities. The women she met there, who had no control over their own fertility, convinced her of the inextricable relationship between family planning and women’s status in traditional societies. After serving as the director of Pakistan’s national family planning service, she began working for UNFPA, the United Nations Population Fund in 1971, and she was appointed executive director, with the rank of under-secretary-general, in 1987. After leaving UNFPA in 2000, she was appointed by the UN secretary-general in May 2002 to serve as his special envoy for HIV/AIDS in Asia and the Pacific.
Kathleen Turner, an Oscar-nominated movie and stage actor, grew up as the daughter of a U.S. ambassador, living in Canada, Cuba, Washington, DC, England, and Venezuela, and speaking five languages. As a college student in Missouri, she went to a local Planned Parenthood health center for information about contraception, thus beginning a lifelong association with the organization. A longtime advocate for reproductive rights and health, Turner has used her public position and fame to publicize the need for greater access to family planning services and to advocate for reproductive rights. Turner joined the Planned Parenthood Federation of America Board of Advocates and became chair of the group. She has traveled around the country speaking on PPFA’s behalf.
Jane Fonda is one of the most famous actors in the world, but her larger-than-life reality has never stopped her from remembering those whose daily lives could not be more different. The daughter of actor Henry Fonda, she has won two Oscars, an Emmy, and numerous other awards, but her greatest contribution to society may be her tireless work as an advocate for those who cannot gain the public eye themselves. Fonda founded G-CAPP, the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, and has been a donor, supporter, speaker and activist for Planned Parenthood of Georgia. At the same time she has dedicated herself to campaigning for women’s rights and healthy sexuality. She has openly criticized the media for sending the wrong message to young people about sex, and gave an Atlanta hospital $1.3 million to help prevent teenage pregnancy.
Ted Turner, one of the most successful businessmen in the world, is an ardent supporter of family planning worldwide. After being expelled from Brown University, he took over his father’s billboard business at 24, and in 1970 began assembling the Turner Broadcasting System. In 1990 he founded the Turner Foundation to develop policies and practices to reduce population growth and encourage family planning. The Turner Foundation has supported PPFA, Planned Parenthood of New Mexico, Catholics for a Free Choice, SIECUS, the Global Fund for Women, and The Alan Guttmacher Institute. He is a committed philanthropist, who founded the United Nations Foundation and then pledged $1 billion to it for distribution to UN programs.
The Forum for Women, Law and Development of Nepal
The Forum for Women, Law and Development, founded in 1994 and located in Kathmandu, Nepal, is a nongovernmental organization that aims to eliminate discrimination against women in Nepal. Its priorities are fighting discriminatory laws, combating human trafficking, implementing the Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW), and promoting international human rights. The forum engages in a variety of advocacy programs aimed at making Nepal accountable for its commitments to human rights declarations, conducting research on socio-legal issues, providing legal aid and counseling to those in need, building regional, national, and international networks of women, and lobbying to reform discriminatory laws and policies. Thanks to the Forum’s efforts, abortion is now legal in Nepal, protecting the health and lives of thousands of women as a result.
K-MET of Kenya
K-MET, founded in 1998, began as Kisumu Medical Education Trust, a collaboration between two Kenyan doctors, Dr. Solomon Orero, current director of K-MET, and Dr. Khama Rogo, a leading Kenyan ob/gyn. When the two men began working together, they treated more than 60 women suffering from unsafe abortions in the national hospital on any given day. Now known as K-MET, their organization today is a treatment and referral network of physicians, nurses, and community health workers in the western part of Kenya that reaches thousands of women. Members are trained to recognize health complications that are the result of unsafe abortions and either provide treatment or refer patients to appropriate care. The network comprises more than 341 members nationwide. More recently, K-MET has worked with Planned Parenthood to expand its services into home-based care for people with HIV/AIDS and adolescent/youth sexual and reproductive health services in five of Kenya’s eight provinces.
Gloria Feldt served as PPFA president from 1996 to 2005, setting a bold, proactive agenda to advance reproductive health and rights worldwide. Her innovative thinking and courageous leadership were the driving forces behind contraceptive equity legislation passed in many states and increased public awareness of the need for accessible emergency contraception. Previously, she was a Planned Parenthood affiliate chief executive in West Texas and in Arizona, Head Start teacher, and activist in the civil rights movement. Among other honors, she was named a 2003 Woman of the Year by Glamour magazine and one of the top 200 Women Legends, Leaders, and Trailblazers, by Vanity Fair magazine. She was featured in most major media, including The New York Times, USA Today,Wall Street Journal, The Washington Post, Today show, and Good Morning America. She is the author of The War on Choice: The Right-Wing Attack on Women’s Rights and How to Fight Back and Behind Every Choice Is a Story.
Karen Pearl served as interim president of PPFA from 2005 to 2006. During her tenure, she emphasized the importance of collaboration, uniting the efforts of the national organization and Planned Parenthood affiliates to fight for medical privacy in Kansas and for teen safety in California, and she joined with a broader coalition in opposing the nominations of U.S. Supreme Court Justices Alito and Roberts. For the 10 years prior to her stint at PPFA, she was president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Nassau County (PPNC). Based in Hempstead, NY, PPNC served more than 40,000 clients and had an annual budget of more than $6 million in 2005.
Pearl served as a member of the PPFA Board of Directors, chair of the Affiliates Chief Executives Council, chair of the New York State Affiliates of Planned Parenthood, and vice-chair of Planned Parenthood Advocates of New York. Dedicated to improving women’s lives, her leadership at Planned Parenthood exemplified an unwavering commitment to advancing reproductive rights and health.
Allan Rosenfield, MD
Allan Rosenfield, MD, dean of the Mailman School of Public Health at Columbia University for 20 years and a professor of gynecology and obstetrics, is legendary for his work on reproductive health, the HIV/AIDS pandemic, and human rights. He served as chairperson of PPFA from 1985 to 1986. He also served the Guttmacher Institute in a number of leadership roles, including as a board member from 1983 to 2004, as well as chair of the board, Executive Committee, and science advisory panel; and in 2006 he was elected an emeritus member of the Guttmacher board.
Before he joined Columbia University, he served for six years in Thailand as a representative of the Population Council and an advisor to the Ministry of Public Health on family planning. He was a pioneer in pursuing reproductive health programs to raise the status of women in less-developed regions as a means of supporting economic development. He is known for his focus on maternal health when it comes to pregnancy and childbirth.
For more than 40 years, Dolores Huerta has been a strong and passionate leader in the struggle for social justice in the United States. In 1962, she and Cesar Chavez formed the National Farm Workers Association, the predecessor to the United Farm Workers (UFW). As one of the key negotiators for the union, Huerta secured the first health and benefit plans for farm workers and became one of the union’s most visible spokespersons. Through grassroots efforts, which included boycotts and marches, the union helped bring awareness to the social and health issues affecting America’s farm workers. Throughout her life, Huerta has been concerned with the plight of workers, immigrants, and women, and has harnessed the power of community organizing and political action to improve the lives of others. Now a great-grandmother in her 70s, she still works long hours in the name of “La Causa.”
Kenneth C. Edelin, MD
Kenneth C. Edelin, MD, has dedicated his life to ensuring that women have access to safe and legal reproductive health care services. In 1973, Dr. Edelin became the first African American to be named chief resident in obstetrics and gynecology at Boston City Hospital. The following year, after performing a legal second-trimester abortion, he was indicted for manslaughter and convicted by an all-white jury (nine men and three women) in 1975. In 1976, the verdict was overturned by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court. Dr. Edelin’s triumph over those who sought to impose their personal religious and political views as the law of the land is still powerfully relevant, and was graphically described in his book, Broken Justice: A True Story of Race, Sex and Revenge in a Boston Courtroom.
Dr. Edelin went on to become chairman of the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Boston University School of Medicine, director of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Boston City Hospital, and gynecologist-in-chief at Boston University Hospital. From 1990–1992, he served as chairperson of Planned Parenthood Federation of America. One of the heroes of the reproductive rights movement, Dr. Edelin’s lifelong commitment to women’s health and rights truly embody the values and courage of Margaret Sanger.
Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton
On January 21, 2009, Hillary Rodham Clinton was sworn in as the 67th secretary of state of the United States, after nearly four decades in public service as advocate, attorney, first lady, and senator. Born in Chicago, October 26, 1947, Secretary Clinton graduated from Wellesley College and Yale Law School, where she met Bill Clinton, whom she married in 1975. During her 12 years as first lady of Arkansas, she advocated for education and the well-being of children and families. In 1992, Gov. Clinton was elected president, and First Lady Hillary Clinton became an advocate for health care reform and worked on many issues relating to children and families.
In 2000, Hillary Clinton made history as the first first lady elected to the U.S. Senate, and the first woman elected statewide in New York. She won reelection in 2006. Sen. Clinton served on the Armed Services Committee, the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, and the Budget Committee, among others. Additionally, she worked across party lines to build support for the expansion of economic opportunity and access to quality, affordable health care.
Secretary Clinton is the author of best-selling books, including her memoir,Living History, and her groundbreaking book on children, It Takes a Village.
Ellen Malcolm founded and served as president of EMILY’s List for 25 years, until 2010, and now serves as the chair of the board of directors. EMILY’s List is a political action committee dedicated to recruiting strong pro-choice Democratic women to run for office, raising support and funds for their campaigns, training them to win tough races, and reaching out to women voters to motivate them to vote. Malcolm has worked tirelessly as an activist and philanthropist for many years, successfully helping more than 100 female candidates who support Planned Parenthood’s mission and values get elected to federal and state offices. Additionally, in 2003, she helped create America Coming Together (ACT), an enormous national organization devoted to empowering and mobilizing voters. Malcolm served as ACT’s president in 2003 and 2004, helping to raise over $145 million for a well-developed voter contact effort in key states.
Anthony D. Romero
Anthony D. Romero is the executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, the nation’s premier defender of liberty and individual freedom. Since taking office in 2001, he has been successful in nearly doubling both the organization’s budget and staff, allowing the ACLU to expand their initiatives, including the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project. Through litigation, advocacy, and education, this project works to uphold the rights of individuals to decide freely, without governmental hindrance or coercion, whether or not to bear a child. Additionally, it works to ensure that all members of society have access to sexuality education, contraception, abortion access, prenatal care, and childbearing assistance. In presenting this award, PPFA President Cecile Richards said, “Anthony is a true friend, ally and hero. For years, he and his team at the ACLU have fought to safeguard women’s rights and health. Anthony’s leadership has been unwavering, and we know that we can count on him for the hard fights ahead.”
Philip Darney, MD, MSc and Uta Landy, PhD
Through the development of an abortion and family planning training program, Philip Darney, MD, MSc, and Uta Landy, PhD, are greatly responsible for the preparation of a new generation of abortion providers. The origin of their program began in 1991 when Darney established the first Fellowship in Family Planning at the University of California, San Francisco, mentoring OB/GYN doctors on a small scale. This program slowly expanded to include six universities. By 1999, the need for further expansion was recognized and a formal program in OB/GYN residencies — later named the Kenneth J. Ryan Residency Training Program in Abortion and Family Planning — was established, led by Landy out of the Bixby Center at UCSF.
The mission of the Ryan Program is to increase and strengthen training opportunities in abortion and contraception for residents in obstetrics and gynecology, and to encourage and support residents’ exposure to evidence-based clinical care and research in the field of family planning. The Ryan Program has established over 60 programs in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico and is responsible for the abortion care training of nearly 10,500 OB/GYN residents. With the shortage of qualified abortion providers (there are no providers in 87 percent of U.S. counties and in 97 percent of rural areas), Landy and Darney have made an enormous impact in the effort to ensure that women across the country have access to the full range of quality health care.
Dr. Ruth Westheimer is a psychosexual therapist who pioneered speaking frankly about sexual matters on radio with her program, Sexually Speaking. It began in September of 1980 as a fifteen minute, taped show that aired Sundays after midnight on WYNY-FM (NBC) in New York. One year later it became a live, one-hour show airing at 10 PM on which Dr. Ruth, as she became known, answered call-in questions from listeners. Soon it became part of a communications network to distribute Dr. Westheimer's expertise which has included television, books, newspapers, games, home video, computer software and her own website.
Dr. Ruth has opened the door for generations of Americans to ask questions and speak openly about topics that were once — and too often still are — considered off limits. She is an inspiring pioneer who understands that there’s no such thing as too much information when it comes to sexuality.
For 27 years, Nancy Pelosi has represented California's 12th District in the House of Representatives. She is the Democratic Leader of the House for the 113th Congress. From 2007-2011, Pelosi served as Speaker of the House, the first woman to do so in American history. She first made history in November 2002 when House Democrats elected her the first woman to lead a major political party in Congress.
Rep. Pelosi was instrumental in the passage of the Affordable Care Act. During the health care reform debate she led her colleagues in Congress as they stood strong against attempts to insert the Stupak abortion ban into the bill. Against tremendous odds, she delivered the necessary 219 votes to send the bill to President Obama’s desk.
Pelosi hails from a strong family tradition of public service. Her father, Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr., served as Mayor of Baltimore for 12 years, after representing the city for five terms in Congress. Her brother, Thomas D'Alesandro III, also served as Mayor of Baltimore.
Pelosi graduated from Trinity College in Washington, D.C. in 1962. She and her husband, Paul Pelosi, a native of San Francisco, have five children and nine grandchildren.
Willie J. Parker is a reproductive justice advocate. He is a graduate of Berea College in Kentucky, and holds degrees from the University of Iowa College of Medicine, the Harvard School of Public Health, the University of Cincinnati, and the University of Michigan. Board certified in obstetrics and gynecology and trained in preventive medicine and epidemiology through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Parker currently provides abortion care for women in AL, MS, PA, GA, and IL, and is the former Medical Director of Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC. He is the physician plaintiff in the federal lawsuit preventing the closure of Mississippi's only abortion clinic, a case currently in request for hearing by the U.S. Supreme Court. Currently residing in his hometown of Birmingham, AL, his work includes a focus on violence against women, sexual assault prevention, and reproductive health rights through advocacy, provision of contraceptive and abortion services, and men's reproductive health. He is a board member of The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Physicians for Reproductive Health, and URGE.