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At the end of a tumultuous year, speakers tackled the question “where do we go from here?” during virtual fundraiser

(New Haven, CT) — On Tuesday, November 18, 2020, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) welcomed Cecile Richards and Deja Foxx, nationally renowned leaders for reproductive freedom, during its largest virtual fundraising event to discuss the what lies ahead for the country after an unprecedented and challenging year. The evening was hosted by Babz Rawls Ivy, host of LoveBabz LoveTalk radio show and member of the PPSNE board of directors. 
A recording of the event can be watched here.

The virtual program, “Where Do We Go From Here?” combined three celebrated annual PPSNE events in New Haven, CT, Stamford, CT and Providence, RI into the organization’s largest virtual fundraising event to date. The lively panel discussion tackled the year’s most pressing issues, including the impact of COVID-19 on access to health care; racial equity and this year’s historic movement for social justice; and the importance of destigmatizing sexual and reproductive health care, including safe and legal abortion.

"To answer where do we go from here? We first have to consider where ‘here’ is,” said Amanda Skinner, president and CEO of PPSNE, as she delivered remarks to open the event. “Our country is reckoning with dual public health crises - the COVID-19 pandemic and systemic racism. In fact, this pandemic has brought the health impacts of systemic racism into ever sharper relief.  And as we face these crises, access to health care is in the spotlight as both incredibly important and yet also remarkably in danger. This pandemic has shown us clearly that sexual and reproductive health care can’t wait."

During this urgent and timely conversation, Richards, Foxx, and Ivy critically examined the role of Planned Parenthood and its supporters in other progressive issues like the Black Lives Matter movement, LGBTQ+ liberation, immigrants’ rights, and social and economic justice.  They acknowledged the difficult reality of navigating an uncertain future while also making clear calls for civic engagement to affect change on these intersectional issues and access to reproductive health care.

“The ability to raise children in communities free from gun violence, police brutality, family separation, and the threat of climate change is inextricably linked to reproductive freedom,” said Foxx, who shared her powerful personal story of being a Planned Parenthood patient as a teen. In 2017, she confronted (then) Senator Jeff Flake at a town hall in an effort to protect Title X funding for Planned Parenthood, which she and millions of other people with low-incomes used to access birth control with no-copay. That confrontation went viral and put her at the forefront of the reproductive justice

Richards agreed with Foxx, adding that “if you don’t have access to the information, support, and services to make your own reproductive decisions – then there is no justice.” Later in the conversation, they discussed the COVID-19 pandemic within the context of social justice, just as Connecticut and the rest of the country continue to see rates rise at alarming rates. “Any new COVID recovery act must be implemented and written and adopted with the lens of what it’s like for women of color. They are the most affected, they are on the front lines,” said Richards.

Cecile Richards is an activist, author, and national leader for social justice issues. She is a co-founder of Supermajority, a national membership organization for women’s activism that is dedicated to developing effective advocates working to build a more equitable future for all women. Previously, she served as the president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America for 12 years, where she grew the organizations’ supporters, fought for increased access to affordable health care, and strengthened the movement for sexual and reproductive health and rights for all people. Richards is also the New York Times best-selling author of “Make Trouble: Stand Up, Speak Out, and Find the Courage to Lead.” She started her career as an organizer in the labor movement, fighting for better wages and working conditions before helping to elect the first Democratic woman governor in her home state of Texas: her mother, Ann Richards. 

Deja Foxx is an activist, organizer, and changemaker. She experienced homelessness and other hardships while growing up and used this adversity to fuel her activism. She is the founder of GenZ Girl Gang–an organization that works to redefine sisterhood for a new generation through bridging generational gaps, creating and sharing opportunities, and learning from each other. In 2017, she founded El Rio Reproductive Health Access Project, which helped more than 4,000 teens access health care in her hometown of Tucson, AZ. Most recently, she took leave from her studies at Columbia University to work full time as an influencer and surrogate strategist on Vice President-elect Kamala Harris’ 2020 presidential primary campaign. At 20 years old, she’s been named a Teen Vogue 21 under 21, received Planned Parenthood’s Catalyst for Change Award, served as MAC Cosmetics' youngest ambassador, and joined Nike at the Women's World Cup as a Dream Leader.

All proceeds from “Where do we go from here?” will go to care for PPSNE patients who receive high-quality, expert health care, regardless of their ability to pay. Annually, PPSNE serves 78,000 people, providing a range of essential sexual and reproductive health care services and primary care, including life-saving breast cancer screenings, wellness exams, abortion care, birth control, STD/STI testing and treatment, and more.