Students volunteer for Planned Parenthood fundraising event

Students and faculty from TCU's Women's Studies program volunteered at Planned Parenthood’s annual luncheon in Fort Worth Friday.

Ten students from the Women’s Studies program, along with faculty members, were invited to help guests check in, pass out brochures, collect donations and set up over 90 tables.

Planned Parenthood is a non-profit organization that provides reproductive health care, sex education and information to people all over the world, according to the organization’s website.

The annual luncheon is known as Planned Parenthood's signature event in Fort Worth, according to the organization's website.

Attendees purchased individual tickets for $150 or entire tables ranging from $1,500-$10,000. Guests were also asked to make donations.

Proceeds from the ticket sales of the luncheon as well as additional donations went directly to support health care and educational services to women, men and teens in central and north Texas, according to Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, Inc.

Junior communication studies major Shannon Sweeney said she was grateful to be able to get involved with helping Planned Parenthood especially after a recent cut in Planned Parenthood's funding from Texas legislators.

According to the Associated Press, state government has always reimbursed Planned Parenthood for providing basic healthcare to poor women through the state's Women's Health Program even though the state does not allow government funds to be used for abortions.

The Women's Health Program provides services to more than 110,000 women each year, and Planned Parenthood clinics were treating about 48,000 of those women, according to the Associated Press.

A state judge has approved a ban on funding to Planned Parenthood that would leave many women searching for new state-approved doctors to provide cancer screenings, annual exams and birth control, according to an Associated Press article.

Planned Parenthood's role as a major abortion provider has long received opposition from many people. 

English instructor Layne Craig said she wanted to volunteer at the event because it gave her the chance to stand up for a controversial issue in Texas regarding reproductive rights and affordable healthcare for women.

“It’s exciting to be a part of a group of people who are trying to make sure that women are provided for in their whole spectrum of needs,” Craig said.

Each year the luncheon features a keynote speaker. This year's speaker was Gloria Steinem.

Steinem is well known for her leadership in the women’s liberation movement of the 1960s and '70s and her life long work as a social activist.

During the luncheon, Steinem shared her perspective about equality for women in health services and the workforce.

She challenged the audience to step up and advocate for women’s reproductive rights in Texas.

Craig said Steinem had exciting things to say in terms of connecting domestic violence issues, health care access and the bigger spectrum of political issues.

“I think she mentioned really interesting connections that I hope to encourage my students to at least think about,” Craig said.

Sweeney said she got a lot of meaning out of the luncheon as well as being around many supportive women.

Sweeney also said the event revealed a lot about the progression of women’s rights throughout history.

“It’s really interesting to see so many women have the disposable income to support causes they want to support, and I think that’s a big step that a lot of women couldn’t foresee in the past,” Sweeney said.