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As published in the Orange County Register.

Photo credit: OC Event Photography Corey Sandler

More than 225 guests came out on Aug. 9 to help Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties raise more than $216,000 to further its reproductive health care mission at its summer fundraising event, “POPP: Protect Our Planned Parenthood.”

The event, held at a private location near the Irvine Spectrum, was spearheaded by co-chairs Afsaneh Alisobhani and Teddie Ray with assistance from a 50-member committee of Orange County leaders.

A portion of the funds raised at POPP are earmarked for reproductive education. One key element of education is de-stigmatizing birth control and sexually transmitted diseases prevention, starting with the condom, which was used as a lighthearted tabletop theme. Event co-chair Teddie Ray commented, “A condom should be viewed not as a reason for embarrassment but instead like a toothbrush or a tampon – part of smart, everyday self-care.” Research shows that condoms are effective to prevent both pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, she noted.

The event’s proceeds will directly benefit more than 100,000 patients who receive health care at the nine centers located in Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Preventive care services comprise 93% of the healthcare its clinics offer, including cancer screenings, breast health exams, annual well-woman check-ups, STD prevention and treatment, family planning, and sexual health education. All services are provided regardless of a patient’s personal circumstances or ability to pay.

The event did also not shy away from addressing Planned Parenthood’s role in providing abortion. An event committee member who is a medical doctor and a foster and adoptive parent shared her private reproductive story: At the 19th week of a long-awaited pregnancy, her obstetrician gave her devastating news that the fetus had a fatal chromosome disorder. There was no chance of delivering a live baby, and her life was at risk. She turned to Planned Parenthood for the termination procedure required to protect her life, because no hospital would perform it.

“Her story could be any of our stories,” co-chair Teddie Ray told the crowd. “It’s a reminder of how important Planned Parenthood’s work is to maintaining a full range of medical services in our region.”