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Benefit event in Stamford raises more than $70,000 to support access to reproductive health care

(New Haven, Conn.)–– On Monday, October 21, Planned Parenthood of Southern New England (PPSNE) welcomed Connecticut Attorney General William Tong and Staci Fox, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood Southeast, for The First Annual Check-Up. More than 150 guests attended the benefit event, held at the Italian Center of Stamford and hosted by PPSNE President and CEO Amanda Skinner, which featured a timely and imperative conversation about the state of reproductive rights locally and nationally. The evening inspired supporters to take action to protect access to reproductive and sexual health care and raised more than $70,000 to support PPSNE.

Staci Fox of Planned Parenthood Southeast, which serves Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi, spoke about the shocking spread of anti-abortion legislation in America, which threatens to make safe, legal abortion—protected as a right by the U.S. Supreme Court—inaccessible to millions of people across the country. This year, politicians in Alabama passed a near-total ban on abortion that was signed into law in May; without intervention by the courts, the legislation is due to take effect in November. Early this October, a federal judge in Georgia temporarily blocked a law that would ban abortions as early as six weeks—before many people know they’re pregnant—and a similar ban in Mississippi was blocked in May of this year. In 2019, states have adopted 37 new abortion restrictions and bans that vilify reproductive health care and make abortion harder to access, especially for people with low incomes and people of color.

Many of these bans are being challenged in court, and abortion is still legal in all 50 states. “The most important thing we are doing all over the country is to remind people that abortion is safe, legal, and still available,” urged Staci Fox. “We are doing our everyday work. We are doing our advocacy work. We are doing our health care work. We are innovating. And we are still fighting.”

“In a prior generation, before this administration, there were attempts to limit abortion or reproductive rights on the fringe or in the margin,” said Attorney General William Tong. “It felt, for a long time, that the fundamental right to choose was not threatened. These attacks go to the heart of that. Connecticut is leading the fight on all of these cases—we have to fight every fight.”

Despite an increase in legislation banning abortions, some states are expanding and safeguarding access. PPSNE, a member of the Rhode Island Coalition for Reproductive Freedom, was instrumental in passing the Reproductive Privacy Act of 2019, which protects the right to safe, legal abortion in Rhode Island no matter what happens at the federal level.

Amanda Skinner of PPSNE reminded the audience that states with protections in place have a responsibility to provide care to those who struggle with abortion access. “We are trying to think about our capacity as a place where people can come for care. Connecticut could be a haven state—we are preparing for the need if it comes,” said Skinner. Connecticut has protected abortion at the state level for decades.

The theme of the evening was continuing the fight for reproductive freedom in the face of increased attacks from the Trump-Pence administration and state politicians who feel emboldened to erode reproductive rights and eliminate access to women’s health and reproductive health care. “We are really getting at stigma. I believe, in my core, if we don’t get at the stigma around reproductive health or sexual health, if we don’t get at the stigma of abortion, we will be back at this fight again and again and again,” said Fox.

Planned Parenthood of Southern New England was joined by state elected officials and local champions, including Senate Majority Leader Bob Duff, State Senator Alex Bergstein, State Representative Caroline Simmons, Stamford Mayor David Martin, and Kay Muñoz from the Office of Senator Chris Murphy.

Proceeds from The First Annual Check-Up support 17 Planned Parenthood of Southern New England health centers in Connecticut and Rhode Island that provide essential, life-saving reproductive health care to more than 78,000 patients annually. During the event, attendees also raised nearly $10,000 to support Planned Parenthood Southeast, which serves more than 16,000 patients in Alabama, Georgia, and Mississippi.