Planned Parenthood is often in the public consciousness as just “the abortion place,” but the organization does so much more for sexual and basic health care for individuals and families. Planned Parenthood South Atlantic (PPSAT) presents a safe space for people to talk openly about their sexual health, with services that require monetary and political support from the community to ensure they remain accessible.
“Planned Parenthood is important to me because it provides essential health care services to everyone in our community,” local Planned Parenthood volunteer Laurie Janus says, “regardless of their financial or insurance status. I certainly believe health care is a basic human right.”
Janus and fellow volunteer Karen White spoke with Amy Siler, owner of Soif de Vin, about setting up an event to benefit Planned Parenthood South Atlantic. Their conversation turned into Cheers for Choice, to be held on February 27. Folks can enjoy drinks, snacks, a raffle, live music and mingling with other Planned Parenthood supporters and advocates.
“I would tell anyone who asked me that Planned Parenthood was my only source of healthcare for more than a decade,” Siler says. “For women who work hard, but don’t have enough to pay for insurance, Planned Parenthood is often their only option. It was for me before I had my children, and the services they provided made sure I was healthy. From regular check-ups to breast exams, their services are actually quite extensive.”
PPSAT has 14 locations throughout North and South Carolina, Virginia and West Virginia, including one in Wilmington. They provide reliable and affordable reproductive and sexual health care to all comers, regardless of race, gender, age, sexual orientation, documentation or insurance status.
“We serve more than 2,000 patients annually in Wilmington,” PPSAT director of philanthropy Leigh Johnson details. “Each individual’s health care needs are different and the funds we raise allow us to support our patients directly by keeping our service costs lower than other private providers. We work to ensure that local women and men can access care no matter their financial status.”
Planned Parenthood provides birth control, testing for sexually transmitted infections, treatment and vaccines, services for the LGBTQ community, emergency contraception, HIV services, and abortion care services. Informing people about the full breadth of Planned Parenthood’s services goes a long way toward getting support for the organization, as anti-abortion voices in U.S. government are especially loud around election time. Despite being in the throes of the 2020 elections, PPSAT is not worried about how naysayers paint their outreach. PPSAT focuses on how much they can help those who need them.
“Our patients know Planned Parenthood is there for them no matter what,” Johnson says. “Politicians may try to politicize the health care we provide, but for our communities it is simple: affordable, compassionate, high-quality health care no matter who they are, how much they make or where they live.”
Janus hopes voters will do their part this election season and go after candidates who also believe in affordable services in healthcare and family planning. “We need candidates that will restore some sanity to the White House and Senate,” she says. “There are a lot of candidates, and particularly women and people of color, who I am very excited about.”
A minimum $25 donation gets people into Cheers for Choice, and Soif de Vin will donate 10% of all sales from the evening to Planned Parenthood. Soif de Vin will be offering specials on their by-the-glass wine list, as well as discounted beers on tap. Cheers for Choice is part of PPSAT’s initiative to add more small reception-type events to their schedule in 2020. Such events are designed for the community to learn more about the organization, with fundraising serving as a secondary function.
Planned Parenthood’s major annual fundraiser, Hibiscus, on April 15, will help them earn money to support local services and programs. It will feature a speech from author and commentator Rebecca Traister. Their goal is to raise $140,000, with proceeds funding preventive family planning health care services, as well as PPSAT’s mentor program for teen moms in New Hanover County. The program aims to delay second pregnancies and keep young mothers educated, as the CDC reports 50% of teen moms do not finish high school.
“This program serves up to 20 young mothers a year, providing them with individualized goal plans, intensive case management services, and group education services,” Johnson says. “It helps teen moms navigate being a parent, a student, and a teen all at the same time.”