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400+ guests joined PPSNE in Providence to honor the iconic women’s rights champion

(Providence, R.I.)––On Tuesday, September 24, 2019, a record-breaking audience of 400 guests joined Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) to honor the trailblazing women’s rights activist, writer, and lecturer Gloria Steinem at the annual Champions celebration. The event—the largest Champions celebration ever—raised nearly $160,000 to support PPSNE.

In her opening remarks, Amanda Skinner, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southern New England, reinforced the crucial work of health care providers, like Planned Parenthood, in a country where many struggle to access the care they need. “The fight is more important now than ever. President Trump and his allies are determined to turn back the clock to a time when women’s lives were devalued and dismissed,” said Skinner. “First and foremost, we are a health care provider. Everyone loves someone who has been to Planned Parenthood.”

The centerpiece of the Champions celebration was a conversation between Amanda Skinner and Gloria Steinem about the history of the women’s rights movement and the importance of remaining engaged and connected to one other to continue the work ahead. Ms. Steinem’s insights and her unique perspective as a leading voice of the feminist movement for more than a generation inspired Rhode Island supporters and activists not to give up. She encouraged the crowd to continue to fight back against racism, sexism, and misogyny, and to demand the fundamental right for each person to control their body and determine their own future.

Reflecting on her experience, Ms. Steinem said, “There is no true democracy unless all of us—women and men—get the chance to decide what happens to our physical selves. I can’t imagine my life without the ability to decide what happened to my body. There’s a reason why Planned Parenthood is the most trusted provider in the country.”

Champions also commemorated this year’s major legislative victory: the passage of the Reproductive Privacy Act of 2019, which guarantees the right to safe, legal abortion in Rhode Island no matter what happens at the federal level. With continued attacks on health care access and reproductive rights from the Trump-Pence administration, including the enforcement of an abortion “gag rule” that forced Planned Parenthood out of the national Title X family planning program, it is more important now than ever to enact state-level policies and laws that protect reproductive freedom.

“The way we’re being attacked, the fact that a gag rule is placed on me as a provider, I’ve realized that being quiet is no longer a way to be in this world,” said Dr. John Morton, an OB-GYN and a PPSNE board member. “This work requires a greater effort.”

Proceeds from Champions support 17 health centers in Connecticut and Rhode Island and the care of 78,000 patients annually—regardless of their ability to pay. PPSNE health centers provide a range of essential, life-saving services, including annual exams, cancer screenings, abortion care, birth control, PrEP, and STD/STI testing and treatment. For more information, visit ppsne.org.