Fundraiser in Santa Rosa held for Planned Parenthood

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The day after The Women’s March drew millions of protesters across the country and internationally to rally against President Trump’s stated agenda, a low-key gathering of about 50 people took place Sunday in Santa Rosa to help protect women’s access to abortion and health services.

The fundraiser for Planned Parenthood was held on the 44th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 Supreme Court decision establishing a right to abortion.

“Its important to celebrate the rights we have and tell the whole world we will be keeping them and won’t go back,” said Sierra Faulkner, the Santa Rosa woman who organized the event at Brew, a downtown coffee and beer house.

Faulkner said she’s organized fundraisers for Planned Parenthood before, but it is especially important now that Trump has been elected.

Trump said during the campaign any woman who gets an abortion should be punished and has vowed to appoint a Supreme Court judge who will overturn Roe v. Wade.

Planned Parenthood has been a perennial target for anti-abortion politicians because it provides abortion services through its centers. But the bulk of what it offers is preventive health care, affordable birth control, and screening for cancer and sexually transmitted diseases.

Jake Ward, a Santa Rosa events producer who last week raised $500 for Planned Parenthood with a variety show by North Bay Cabaret, said abortions at Planned Parenthood’s clinics are not paid for with taxpayer money, but he said Republicans want to defund the entire program.

At Sunday’s event there were form letters for people to sign and send to House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, who is leading a Republican effort to strip funding from Planned Parenthood as part of the proposed dismantling of Obamacare.

The letter stated that seven in 10 Americans believe Roe v. Wade should be the law of the land.

Restrictions on abortions will only increase the likelihood a woman will die as result of self-induced abortion, but do not prevent abortions from taking place, the letter stated.

Brooke Lober, a visiting assistant professor of women and gender studies at Sonoma State University who spoke at Sunday’s event, said afterward “we are in a time where self-determination of our own bodies is under attack. I think it will be more blatant.”

Reproductive justice, she said, “really means that we would have access to birth control, autonomy in our sexuality, freedom from violence, access to abortion and access to give birth in ways we want, in the home and hospital.”

Kristen Remsen of Windsor said she was working at her veterinary office job Saturday and was unable to attend the Women’ March in Santa Rosa, which drew more than 5,000 people, according to police estimates.

“I didn’t get my voice heard,” she said, adding that her life would have been different without Planned Parenthood and she wants to keep it open for those who need it.

“I will keep trying to move forward in all the ways I can at this point and not be complacent,“ Remsen said.

You can reach Staff Writer Clark Mason at 707-521-5214 or clark.mason@pressdemocrat.com. On Twitter@clarkmas.

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