HOUSTON — Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast, serving southeast Texas and Louisiana, raised $1 million from its annual luncheon on Friday. A record 2,300 people attended the soirée in Houston amid aggressive assaults by conservative Republicans on women and their reproductive health.
In 2013, Texas banned Planned Parenthood from the state’s family planning program. Last month, the Trump administration approved the state’s backdoor request to defund the organization.
“We live in a state that has severely politicized health care in general and in doing so has cut off countless people from services of Planned Parenthood in particular,” said one of the lunch’s speakers, Beth Robertson, before a jam-packed room at the Marriott Marquis in downtown Houston.
As a Catholic, Robertson acknowledged the discomfort the discussion around abortion engenders.
“I actually had to think really hard about standing up here today [on stage],” she added. “But I realized that I cared more about women having access to good reproductive health care than my comfort.”
Despite the continued attacks from conservatives on women’s reproductive health, polls show a majority of Texans agree with the U.S. Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade, which made abortion legal 47 years ago. A scientific poll by Quinnipiac last year found 57 percent of Texas voters agree with the court’s ruling, 36 percent of voters disagreed.
Planned Parenthood provides health care services– including cancer screenings, primary care, abortion, wellness visits, HIV testing– to underserved populations. Nationally, the health care provider saw 2.4 million patients in FY 2018.
“It’s sometimes easy to let the political noise around reproductive health care…get in the way of the facts,” said another of the lunch speakers, Cullen Geiselman. “The fact is Houston is a healthier place and people are living better lives because of Planned Parenthood.”
Geiselman, Beth Robertson and Lillie Robertson received Planned Parenthood Gulf Coast’s Second Century Award for their leadership and philanthropy on reproductive health care.
Planned Parenthood’s health care services are particularly important in a city and state that have record numbers of uninsured. Texas remains the uninsured capital of the country because Texas Republicans have refused to expand Medicaid– and tackle health care reform legislatively.
Photo: Kevin Nix/The Texas Signal