80 Years: The Story of Us
In 1931, Margret Sanger came to Kansas City to enlist the community in forming an organization dedicated to family planning. Four years later, what would become Planned Parenthood of Kansas and Mid-Missouri was founded as the Maternal Health League of Kansas City, serving 300 patients in its first year. Under the name the Planned Parenthood Association (adopted 1942), the nonprofit established its first permanent office, and, in 1949, began organizing a large scale volunteer program.
GROWTH AND CHANGE
PPKM’s early decades were a time of shifting national attitudes. Thanks to the FDA’s 1960 approval of oral contraception, Planned Parenthood began offering birth control pills in 1961, and, in 1966, the last restrictive legislation on birth control was eliminated, making contraception legal in all states. Rapid growth and expansion characterized the decade, and, by the mid-seventies, centers had been opened in Jefferson City, Independence, Hays, and Wichita.
EDUCATING AND ADVOCATING IN THE COMMUNITY
In 1972 the Planned Parenthood Information and Education Committee identified the need for high quality human sexuality education in the community and concluded that Planned Parenthood was the answer to that need. As a result, a full-time Director of Information and Education was hired to develop and implement the program. Community Educators were hired and in the years to follow, thousands of young people and others participated through schools, community centers and religious settings. In addition, a wide range of professionals attended training seminars and workshops conducted by Planned Parenthood staff. The Planned Parenthood library began in the 1960‘s and is now known as the Suzanne E. Allen Resource Library. It has brochures, books and videos on a variety of topics related to sexuality, reproductive health and reproductive rights.
The eighties brought with it increased involvement in legislative affairs pertaining to family planning; a Public Affairs Committee was formed in 1980, and, the next year, the Public Affairs Department was established, featuring a Legislative Alert Network of over 1,200 people devoted to advocating for reproductive freedom in legislation and public policy.
PLANNED PARENTHOOD FACES ADVERSITY
In July 1989, the Supreme Court ruled in the Reproductive Health Services vs. Webster case, enabling state legislatures to write abortion restrictions accommodating their interests. This resulted in the elimination of abortion services at providers like the Truman, NKC, and Liberty Hospitals. In response, Planned Parenthood of Greater Kansas City expanded its abortion services to assist those having difficulty finding a provider. Later that same year, Operation Rescue abortion opponents barricaded and invaded the Columbia Center, and the Independence Center was firebombed.
PPKM IS FORMED
Despite these challenges, Planned Parenthood continued to expand the scope and nature of its services, beginning confidential AIDs testing in 1990, creating the first Chaplain position of any Planned Parenthood Affiliate in 1991, and, in 1993, providing male services in addition to partner treatment. A large scale restructuring began and, in 1995, Planned Parenthood of Greater Kansas City and Planned Parenthood of Central Missouri merged to create Planned Parenthood of Mid-Missouri and Eastern Kansas, an organization which, three years later, joined with Planned Parenthood of Kansas to form PPKM as we know it today.
THE NEW CENTURY
In the face of fierce and sometimes violent opposition, PPKM continued to fight to provide safe and accessible reproductive services. Hostile legislation was the rule through the 2010s, as PPKM was prohibited from offering educational materials in public schools in Missouri and Kansas, abortion restrictions were increased, and, in the last two years, Kansas stripped PPKM of Title X funding and passed Senate Bill 95, a law massively restricting the safest method of second-trimester abortions.
TOWARDS THE FUTURE
Past challenges, and those we face today, have served only to solidify PPKM’s commitment to our patients and the community. This year, we reflect on the progress we have made over the last eight decades and look forward to continuing our efforts to secure a world of informed reproductive freedom.