SAN ANTONIO — As Planned Parenthood looks ahead to a future that does not include a woman's right to abortion in the U.S., it is getting some support from the community and from a famous name.
Planned Parenthood of South Texas hosted Gloria Steinem, world-renowned feminist and activist, at its annual luncheon Friday. More than 1,300 people were expected at the packed event at the Marriot River Center. The organization hoped to raise more than $1 million.
"Hope is a form of planning and if we don't open our minds and our hearts and among our friends, we've given up already," Steinem said at the event.
Planned Parenthood is forging ahead since the Supreme Court overturned Roe V. Wade three months ago. Prior to that, Texas Senate Bill 8, effectively banned abortions after six weeks of pregnancy and carried the risk of civil suits filed against someone who assists with providing an abortion. Texas's own trigger law to ban abortion took effect back in August.
Abortion services are only one part of the nonprofit's services. The Planned Parenthood mission involves providing heatlh care services for the community. They include life-saving cervical cancer screening and treatment, birth control, Pap and breast exams, male exams, STD testing and prevention and health counseling.
"For many people that come through our doors, we are the only health care provider they see," said Laura Terrill, President & CEO of Planned Parenthood South Texas. "In a state that does not prioritize health care for mothers and their families, Planned Parenthood is a lifeline."
Since the overturning of Roe V. Wade, the organization has had to navigate the confusing aftermath of changing abortion laws.
"These bans are working exactly as they are designed. They are sowing chaos," said Alexis McGill Johnson, President & CEO, Planned Parenthood Federation of America. "Special legislative sessions scheduled within hours of the ruling to push new abortion bans, appointments being rescheduled, courts flipping bans back and fort."
In a question and answer style interview with Johnson, Steinem talked about her earliest years in activism and previous fights for abortion access.
"I had become a writer so I didn't have to talk," Steinem said. "But there was no place except New York Magazine, in my little column, where I could write about this. I realized that the only way of discussing it was to get up and talk."
"I couldn't just be a reporter, I had to be part of a movement," Steinem said.
She left the audience of suppporters discouraged by recent events with some hope for the future.
"It takes hope to get up in the morning every day, and to be motivated to work and, if we have children, of course we want to create a better future for them."
Planned Parenthood has pledged to stay open and continue providing health care services. Abortion are still legally permitted in Texas if the mother's life is threatened, and women who travel out of state to seek an abortion don't face the threat of prosecution when they return.