Planned Parenthood was founded on the revolutionary idea that women should have the information and health care they need to live strong, healthy lives, and fulfill their dreams.
Over the past 100 years nationally, and for 80 years in Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood (PPWI) has been providing health care, education, and advocacy to keep people safe, healthy, and strong.
“Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin started with one small clinic in Milwaukee in 1935,” said Teri Huyck, CEO of PPWI. “For many of our patients, Planned Parenthood is their only source of health care. From sex education, to STD testing and treatment, to cancer screenings, to birth control and pregnancy testing, and safe, legal abortion services.”
To celebrate the dual anniversaries, PPWI hosted events in communities across the state that concluded on October 14 with a gala at Potawatomi Hotel & Casino. The luncheon was attended by several thousand community supporters and featured a special keynote speaker, Gloria Steinem, who pioneered the women’s movement.
The feminist icon challenged Milwaukee women to be visible in their efforts, and to do the best they could in the moment because that particular moment could turn out to actually matter. Steinem spoke for an hour with host Debbie Phillips of “Women on fire,” and covered a wide range of topics from her new book, “Life on the Road,” to politics, and the future of the women’s movement.
“There are so many great young feminist activists, both young women and young men, that I never could exactly think of how to explain how I felt,” Steinem told the audience. “And finally, only over the last ten days of wondering around on this tour, I figured out how to explain it. I just had to wait for some my friends to be born.”
Lynde Bradley Uihlein and Marianne Lubar, both lifelong Milwaukee philanthropists and advocates for women, talked about what an honor it was to share the stage with Gloria Steinem at the gala. They said it made a huge difference in uplifting Planned Parenthood, and to those supporting its spirit.
“It was people like Gloria Steinem who gave a voice to women,” said Lubar. “We have voices and we need to use them, and this is the time to use them.”
During the event, PPWI also honored local artist Niki Johnson with the Voices Award, to acknowledge her efforts for being profoundly visible in her support of Planned Parenthood. Best known as creator of “Eggs Benedict,” the portrait of Emeritus Pope Benedict woven out of condoms, Johnson’s latest art piece was unveiled during the award presentation.
The stunning 8’x 8’ aluminum artwork was made from the building signs of the five PPWI health centers that were forced to close as a result of Governor Walker’s defunding of Planned Parenthood. The piece, titled “Hills and Valleys,” addresses the ongoing battle that women face to control decisions about their own bodies.
Only 100 years ago women did not have the right to vote, and simple contraception was illegal. From its early roots to address gender inequality, Planned Parenthood transformed women’s health and empowered people worldwide to make informed health decisions. Once a single brownstone in Brooklyn, it has approximately 650 health centers across the country. The organization has been able to survive against vilification, violence, and efforts in Congress and across many states to cut its funding.
When local volunteers came together to open a small maternal health center in Milwaukee, they were part of an emerging movement in support of birth control, women’s rights, and equality.
“Eighty years later, we operate 21 health care centers across Wisconsin, providing thousands of women, men, and families with compassionate, high quality health care every year,” said Mary Lynne Donohue, who is the current chair of PPWI’s Board of Directors. “One in five women have trusted Planned Parenthood during some of the most intimate moments of their lives.”
Studies have shown that when access to birth control and abortion services becomes limited, families suffer. PPWI could not have served the community for the past eight decades without the work of its partners in the reproductive health and justice community. Countless heroes have defended Planned Parenthood with courage and tenacity.
“The most frequent thing I’m asking is, ‘who are you passing the torch to?’ So I’ve evolved an answer,” said Steinem, “I’m not giving up my torch, because I’m using it. I’m using it to light other torches, because everyone has a torch. If there was only one torch we could never see where we’re going.”
“The future depends entirely on what each of us does every day; a movement is only people moving.” – Gloria Steinem
Five Ways to Be Visible
1. Talk: Have conversations about what you learned today, tell your story about why Planned Parenthood is important to you.
2. Engage: Follow Planned Parenthood on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram to stay informed.
3. Vote: Get to the polls Tuesday, November 8, ask 10 friends to do the same.
4. Share: Give your resources, time, and talent to a cause you believe in.
5. Amplify: Write letters to the editor, speak at public forums.
patients at or below poverty level
- African American – 16,389 27.7%
- Asian American – 1,354 2.3%
- American Indian – 397 0.7%
- Multi-Racial – 2,205 3.7%
- Native Hawaiian – 16 .01%
- Pacific Islander – 99 .2%
- Unreported – 4,896 8.3%
- White – 33,878 57.2%
Birth Control Units
Emergency Contraception Units
Cervical Cancer Screenings
COMMUNITY EDUCATION PROGRAM
Sexual Education Programs
- Female 64%
- Male 35%
- Unreported 2%
- Milwaukee County 70%
- Dane County 20%
- Other WI Counties 10%
* Statistics from 2015 PPWI Annual Report
Planned Parenthood commemorates 80 years in Wisconsin
Photo Essay: Being visible for reproductive rights
Virtual reality film simulates encounter with anti-abortion protestors
Niki Johnson: Using art to give others a voice
Gloria Steinem: an entrepreneur for social change
Candidates who prioritize women’s health get Planned Parenthood support