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Employees and volunteers from Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest met up with their California affiliate counterparts to learn to lobby our representatives at the capitol building in Sacramento.

Capitol Day — on June 11 this year — is an annual event where Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California (PPAC) gather in solidarity to flex our power to our elected legislators. Our California youth are well represented, with many young volunteers and politically active college students in attendance.

Planned Parenthood provides over 1.5 million patients visits to nearly 1 million Californians every year.

This year’s theme was “Equity, Justice, Action.” Senate President Pro Tempore Toni Atkins was the special guest star of the event; she is a fearless leader and champion for Planned Parenthood! Atkins is the first woman, the first openly LGBT+, and the first Planned Parenthood Board Member to serve as the leader of California Legislature’s upper house.

The Title X program (funding for reproductive health care that comes from the federal government) and the proposed gag rule were very much on the minds of all participants; the gag rule would prevent health care providers from even mentioning abortion as an option.

Affiliate participants broke into small groups and visited the offices of our representatives, discussing issues that included Title X, the 340B Prescription Drug Program (which provides discounts of reproductive health medication), Proposition 56 (support for investment in women’s health services), and Sexual Health Education: AB 2601, the California Healthy Youth Act that makes sexual education mandatory in charter schools.

The midday event featured panels of reproductive rights and social justice experts, spoken-word poets, and keynote speaker Jennifer Siebel Newsom — documentary filmmaker and partner to Gavin Newsom.

One of the panels — Civic Engagement and Representation — was expertly facilitated by our own Nora Vargas, the vice president of community and government relations here at PPPSW.

It was an incredibly inspiring day, and just the thing we all need to carry our spirit and momentum into the midterms. Onward!

[In photo above: California State Assemblymember Shirley Weber, and Planned Parenthood Action Fund of the Pacific Southwest employees and volunteers.]

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