Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains (PPRM) was founded in 1916 under the name Denver Birth Control League by a group of women and men committed to providing family planning services and education to our community. During the first ten years of the organization's history, information regarding family planning and birth control was distributed primarily to married women. These educational activities were illegal under the anti-obscenity Comstock laws, which were finally repealed in 1965.
In 1926, the organization opened its first birth control health center in the basement of the Universalist church, pictured at left. Today, PPRM operates 24 health centers in 4 states. We provide more than 100,000 people with confidential and affordable services each year.
1916 Committed to providing family planning and education to their community, Ruth Cunningham and a group of prominent Colorado women create the Denver Birth Control League.
The same year, Margaret Sanger comes to Denver to meet with them and to address a gathering in support of the National Womens Party.
1926 First birth control health center opened in church on 17th and Emerson in Denver. Health center serves 150 married women in first year.
1930s American Medical Association officially recognizes birth control as a legitimate aspect of medical practice. The Second Court of Appeals in New York rules that pamphlets on contraception or marriage counseling cannot be prohibited under anti-obscenity Comstock Laws. Birth control organizations are established in Boulder, Greeley, Pueblo and Colorado Springs..
1940s Denver Birth Control League adopts the name Planned Parenthood of Colorado in 1944 and is incorporated as non-profit organization under Colorado law in 1949. The organization begins to reach out to minority populations. There is increasing interest among patients in marriage and family counseling services.
1950s Health center hours increase, 500 pieces of educational literature are distributed each month, and outreach to minority communities continues to grow. Speakers' program established in 1952 to educate women's groups about family planning and reproductive health issues. The Board adopts policy-permitting services to unmarried women in 1957.Pap tests are added to services in 1959.
1960s In the 1960's, with the introduction of the birth control pill, our client numbers grew from 1,200 in 1960 to 13,000 by 1962. In 1965, the Supreme Court, in Griswold v. Connecticut, finally legalizes birth control for married couples; the Court grants singles that right in 1972. But, back to 1965, the Colorado Legislature passes the "Birth Control Bill," which designates funds for contraceptive services and the federal government makes family planning funds available shortly after that. In 1967 Colorado becomes the first state to decriminalize abortion in cases of rape, incest, or in which pregnancy would lead to permanent physical disability of the woman.
1970s By the 1970's, our services are expanded into rural parts of the state. In 1973, the Supreme Court legalizes abortion and Planned Parenthood, with a split board, begins offering abortion services. In 1975, PPRM expands into Casper, Wyoming.
1980s The name "Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains" (PPRM) is adopted in 1986. The Educational Resource Center opened and our Dollar-A-Day teen pregnancy prevention program is established. The Last Resort Fund established to help poor, young women pay for abortion services. Out-of-state health centers open in Missouri, New Mexico and West Virginia.
1990s PPRM establishes prenatal and mid-life care. Educational programming is expanded dramatically to serve homeless and runaway youth and males. Norplant and HIV/AIDS testing and education are made available.
PPRM supports the founding of Planned Parenthood of the Rocky Mountains Action Fund, a non-partisan social welfare organization that advocates for reproductive rights in state legislatures and regulatory agencies. Subsequently renamed “Planned Parenthood Votes Colorado,” the Action Fund backs pro-choice candidates who stand with Planned Parenthood to protect and increase access to comprehensive reproductive health care, sexuality education, and sound health care policy. It also leads the fight against anti-choice ballot initiatives.
PPRM expands into Southern Nevada in 1993. In 1996, PPRM introduces the Hormonal Contraception with Optional Pelvic Exam (HOPE) to reduce barriers to contraception, such as fear, physical access and cost.
In 1999 the Colorado Department of Health and Environment issues a new rule requiring participants in the state funded Family Planning Program to cease providing abortion services. In response to this direction, and in accord with our mission to provide accessible and affordable family planning services to the citizens of Colorado, PPRM complies with this rule by forming a separate corporation to provide abortion services.
2000s PPRM plays a key role in the Protect Families Protect Choice coalition to soundly defeat Amendment 25, the only anti-choice ballot initiative in the nation during 2000. Amendment 25, the so-called "Woman's Right to Know" bill, would have mandated a 24-hour waiting period for any woman seeking an abortion, state-produced materials, reporting requirements, and criminal and civil penalties for doctors.
Despite our good faith efforts, in 2001, the Colorado Department of Health and Environment terminates our 20-year state family planning funding partnership leaving thousands of women with limited to no access to a nearby family planning provider.
PPRM creates a central Call Center to schedule client visits at all our health centers in 2003. In 2007, Governor Ritter signs E.C. in the E.R. which requires hospital emergency room staffs to notify victims of sexual assault about the availability of emergency contraception.
Governor Ritter signs H.B. 1292, which requires school districts that teach sex education to teach medically accurate sex education.
Finally, PPRM serves more than 100,000 women, men and teens through its 24 health centers in four states.