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Wendy Davis to speak Saturday at Planned Parenthood event



Wendy Davis, a champion of women's rights and former Texas state senator, is the honored guest speaker for Choices 2015, the annual Planned Parenthood of Central Oklahoma (PPCO) fundraiser on Saturday. The event, a staple for supporters of Planned Parenthood, returns to the National Cowboy & Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd St., for an art sale, silent auction, dinner and live entertainment.

Davis is well known for her 13-hour filibuster in the Texas Senate to kill an anti-abortion measure and is a defender of women's rights and commits herself to helping individuals challenged by the health care system. She joins women's rights activists, including Gloria Steinem, who have addressed the organization's backers in the past.

"Our supporters in Oklahoma need to hear that positive, 'You can do it’ speech," said Keri Parks, Planned Parenthood’s director of external affairs. "It is … hard when you live in a difficult state for reproductive rights. It is hard when you don't have the support that you need at the Capitol.”

Oklahomans might feel hopeless when it comes to reproductive rights; therefore, they have a hard time continuing the fight for support, Parks said. Planned Parenthood will keep advocating, and Davis will motivate people to stay involved.

Spotlighting Davis' spirit is this year's featured art by Lisa Jean Allswede. The watercolor "Our Words Define Us," represents the pink tennis shoes that Davis wore during her filibuster speech.

Allswede is one of 34 artists to take part in charity. Proceeds from the sale benefit the three metro Planned Parenthood centers located in Edmond, Midwest City and Oklahoma City. The artists include Bert Seabourn, Denise Duong, Diane Coady, Suzanne Mears, Paul Medina, Romy Owens, Sue Moss Sullivan and Marilyn Artus, who serves as event chair.

"From the onset of puberty through menopause and beyond, Planned Parenthood helps individuals better understand their own bodies, the challenges they face and all available options," Artus said in a media statement. "Keeping our services accessible will never be more important than it is now."

The nonprofit began the family planning services under the name Maternal Health Center of Oklahoma City in 1937. In its first two years, the clinic saw 985 women patients. The numbers continued to grow as more residents arrived for health care services. The organization reorganized as a Planned Parenthood affiliate in 1958, paving the way for the organization to reach 10,000 women, men and children annually through high-quality, low-cost reproductive health services and educational programs and professional workshops in the community.

Interim CEO Jackie Johnson said the centers provide services that include contraception, pregnancy tests, sexually transmitted infection diagnosis and treatment, cancer screenings, routine gynecological care and vasectomy.

Funds raised from the event support the foundation’s mission to provided comprehensive reproductive and complementary health care services in confidential settings. The Oklahoma City affiliate receives no federal funding and relies on donations as well as patient fees for operating costs to supplement its $1.6 million operating budget.

"Our donors in Oklahoma are instrumental in keeping our services affordable and helping people in our community," said Parks.

Limited tickets remain at $100 and can be purchased through Thursday by visiting or calling 528-0221, ext. 304.

Headline: Lifting spirits, Tradition of community support continues with PPCO’s Choices 2015 event.


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