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From tea parties to marches, we’re stronger together

In July 1939, shortly before the opening of San Antonio’s first birth control clinic, the clinic’s board held a tea party.

This wasn’t just a social event. According to notes from the board secretary, the tea was “given to the heads of charity organizations in San Antonio for the purpose of introducing them to the work and aims of the Maternal Health Center and to enroll their support in furthering our own ideals.” The guests included women from the Bexar County School for Girls, the Junior League Children’s Clinic, the Salvation Army, and dozens more.

The founders of the Maternal Health Center—which would later become Planned Parenthood—knew the only way they could truly make a difference to women and families in San Antonio was to work with other community groups who shared the same ideals.

People powered from the beginning

In our 80 years of service, as we’ve expanded our services and grown the number of people we serve, Planned Parenthood has never done it alone.

Often, we partnered with other local nonprofits. In our early years, it was primarily volunteers who staffed the clinic, and volunteers were integral to our education work in the community. Promotoras with our Habla Con Tu Hermana℠ outreach and education program partner with other organizations to reach women who have fallen through the cracks of our broken health care system.

These relationships have been vital to Planned Parenthood’s “three-legged stool” of health care, education, and advocacy. All three legs are necessary to reduce unintended pregnancy and abortion, lower the incidence of sexually transmitted infections, and improve maternal health and the health of babies. People cannot plan their futures if they can’t cannot control whether, when and how many children to have.

The intersectionality of our work

We recognize that health care alone is not enough. Too often our patients walk out of our clinics only to battle racism, sexism and other forms of discrimination. Attacks on immigrants and the LGBTQ+ community are pervasive and unjust. Economic injustice creates the poverty that exacerbates inequity. Voter suppression and gerrymandering limit the ability of citizens to make their voices heard and create change through government. All of these place barriers between a woman and the better life she wishes for herself and her family.

While these concerns fall outside the scope of our clinical practice, the people at Planned Parenthood South Texas are committed to speaking out in support of our patients and what they need to build a better life for themselves and their families.

In 2017, we formalized this work by organizing a Board Public Affairs Committee and creating a Public Affairs agenda. Today, Planned Parenthood staff, board and volunteers are partnering with community-based organizations to advocate for progress on such issues as women’s rights, racial equity, health care reform, immigrant rights, LGBTQ+ rights, climate change, voting rights, and economic justice and poverty.

 All these issues, at their heart, are about a desire to seek out and create a better life for yourself and your family. And that’s what family planning—our passion—is all about. 

Supporting our patients  and community outside of the clinic

Planned Parenthood has more than 100 volunteers who give hundreds of hours a year to support our public affairs work, allowing us to go beyond the walls of our health center to increase our impact on the community. Planned Parenthood staff have joined the San Antonio Food Bank to serve meals at Haven for Hope and worked with the Interfaith Welcome Coalition to stuff backpacks for refugees. We have participated in Take Back the Night at the Rape Crisis Center, the International Women’s Day March and Rally, the Martin Luther King Jr. march, and the Families Belong Together Rally to support social justice issues that align with our values.

This summer we secured Latino Community Investment Grants from the Planned Parenthood Federation of America to support the work of the Angry Tias and Abuelas of the Rio Grande Valley and Good Neighbor Settlement House in Brownsville. These inspiring organizations provide asylum seekers at the U.S./Mexico border with basic necessities such as food, hygiene kits and clothes as well as helping with travel logistics and transportation.

The grant also supports our partnership with Pride Center San Antonio to present Queer y Más: Rooted In Resilience, an event celebrating the intersections of Latinx Heritage Month, LGBTQ History Month, and National Coming Out Day. Queer y Más will take place from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Wednesday, October 9, 2019 at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center. The free event will honor the unheard and often untold stories of queer Latinx people who have paved the way for future generations. It will include poetry and spoken word from local artists, refreshments, free HIV testing and more.