A Planned Parenthood rally in Washington. Courtesy Planned Parenthood
Cecile Richards, presidnet of Planned Parenthood, at a rally in Washington. Courtesy Planned Parenthood

By Darrah DiGiorgio Johnson

This fall, Planned Parenthood will celebrate its 100th year empowering women, men and families to lead the self-determining lives they want.

We’ve made incredible progress during our first century. Birth control, once inaccessible, is widely available. Abortion, once a crime, is safe and legal. Planned Parenthood, once a single brownstone in Brooklyn, has grown to approximately 650 health centers across the country.

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Your local affiliate—Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest—has come a long way since we opened our first San Diego health center in 1963: a booth in Balboa Park with an Episcopal reverend at the helm. Last year, we served 100,000 patients in San Diego County.

And we’re just getting warmed up.

Women are nearly half the workforce and comprise more than half of college students. Women work in every major profession in the United States—from military and law enforcement, to medicine and law, to education and major corporations, to professional sports and managerial positions.

Darrah DiGiorgio Johnson
Darrah DiGiorgio Johnson

Our centennial anniversary is an opportunity to celebrate the countless heroes who got us here: the brave nurses sent to jail in 1916 for daring to provide contraceptive advice to women; the feminists who fought tirelessly for the right to safe and legal abortion; the politicians who unapologetically support Planned Parenthood’s mission.

We could not have made it to our 100th year without the work of our partners in the reproductive health, rights and justice communities. We share our progress and achievements together, and are proud to stand shoulder to shoulder as we work toward the next 100 years of progress.

We’re proud of our roots—but we’re not done making history.

This movement is not only about women’s health care. Planned Parenthood strives to provide care that’s respectful of all gender identities and sexual orientations. Our goal is to make every single person who comes through our doors feel welcome and free of shame.

We’re looking ahead and empowering tomorrow’s heroes—those who will fight for health equity, reject double standards and shape legislation. Movements mean introspection and forward motion, and a diverse cadre of champions willing to commit time, funds and—most importantly—their voices to a future where there is no stigma in health care.

In exam rooms, classrooms and boardrooms, Planned Parenthood is engaging and amplifying those voices. We’re serving new patients and making new partners—from medical students and LGBT youth, to undocumented immigrants and collegiate activists. We’re a presence on campuses with Planned Parenthood Generation Action, committed to empowering young people with the information and confidence to invest in themselves, defy labels and know that their voices—and their votes—truly matter.

We’re proud to tell you that Planned Parenthood is at the forefront of this movement, harnessing energy and resources to affect real change in our community and beyond. We will not rest until access to health care and rights is a reality for all people. We will build on our proud legacy to launch our second century with as much passion, courage and conviction as our first.

Every day, people show up at our health centers. And every day, Planned Parenthood provides the expert, respectful care they deserve—and we will continue to do so for the next 100 years.

To learn more about Planned Parenthood or to get involved, visit plannedparenthood.org.

Darrah DiGiorgio Johnson is president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest.