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This year, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas is celebrating 80 years of providing trusted healthcare and health education services to Central and North Texas women, men, teens, and families.

Inspired by Margaret Sanger—an American birth control activist, sex educator, and nurse who opened the first birth control clinic in the United States in Brooklyn, New York, in 1916—volunteers and community leaders in Dallas, Austin, Fort Worth, and Waco came together to address the birth control needs of women in their communities. Maternal health centers in each city eventually became Planned Parenthood, and today stand together as one of the largest Planned Parenthood affiliates in the US: Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas.

The first group that came together was in Dallas in the early 1930s. Community leaders Katherine Ripley and Gertrude Shelburne worked with Sanger to import and distribute contraceptives and educational materials in shirt boxes from the Ripley Shirt Company. They saw a need to help women struggling to plan and space their pregnancies safely, and stood on the right side of history to create access to much-needed birth control and information.

Austin’s Maternal Health Center formed next in 1937 after a meeting of clergy and Austin community leaders in the historic Driskill Hotel lobby. Fort Worth followed in 1938, led by Mrs. Robert Hardwicke and 32 charter members. They served 12 women on the first day of operation. Waco community leader Helen Day brought together a group of 30 women on February 1, 1939, at the Public Library, and soon after opened the Maternal Health Center in the basement of Waco City Hall.

Today, Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas has health centers located throughout Central and North Texas including Austin, Dallas, Fort Worth, Paris, Tyler, Waco, and surrounding communities.

“At Planned Parenthood, we started talking about sex, health, and birth control over 80 years ago, long before it was an acceptable conversation,” said Ken Lambrecht, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. “Planned Parenthood has never hesitated to stand up for the healthcare and education that Texans need. We’re proud to remain as trusted a resource for healthcare and education today as we were when we were first founded 80 years ago.” 

Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas now provides healthcare and health education to nearly 85,000 Central and North Texans each year. For many patients, Planned Parenthood is their medical home and their only source of healthcare. One in five women in the US has received services from Planned Parenthood at some time in her life.

Planned Parenthood’s health centers serve insured and uninsured Texans with high quality, affordable medical care for women, men, and teens. Planned Parenthood’s patients benefit from the convenience of same‐day appointments, extended hours, and birth control on‐site and without a co‐pay.

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we are honoring the contributions of courageous women such as Katherine Ripley, Gertrude Shelburne, and countless others who understood the ability to plan and space pregnancies would significantly improve the lives of women and families. Planned Parenthood is committed to continuing their powerful legacy by providing healthcare for those who count on us, no matter what.

A beautiful infographic detailing the full history of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas is available for viewing or download here.

Follow @PPGreaterTX on Facebook and Twitter to get regular updates on events, reports, and other important information on birth control options and other health issues throughout the year as part of our Planned Parenthood 2015: Your Partner for a Healthy Community campaign.

Additional info and materials are available here.

Autumn Williams Keiser
Planned Parenthood
[email protected]


Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, Inc.


March 05, 2015


March 09, 2015