On April 16, 330 supporters of Planned Parenthood CA Central Coast (PPCCC) gathered in the Rotunda at the Hilton S.B. Beachfront Resort for its annual Birds and Bees Bash. The event grossed $600,000 to support the mission of improving our communities’ sexual and reproductive health outcomes through health care, education, and advocacy. MICOP (Mixteco Indígena Community Organizing Project) received the inaugural Community Partner Award.
The evening began on the Rotunda Balcony, where guests enjoyed cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, stunning ocean and mountain views, and the joy of gathering in person once again. For dinner, guests were seated in the Rotunda, where PPCCC President and CEO Jenna Tosh welcomed them and then turned to the need to eliminate systemic inequities that cause poor health outcomes and racial health disparities in our communities.
She pointed to the devastating impact of COVID on the Latinx community here and how communities of color and Indigenous communities have long suffered disparate outcomes in sexual and reproductive healthcare, including being disproportionately impacted by sexually transmitted infections; having higher rates of unintended pregnancy; a greater likelihood of dying from pregnancy-related causes; and, for Black people, higher incidences and poorer outcomes for certain cancers.
Tosh related how PPCCC partners with multiple organizations to improve health equity, including the event’s honoree, MICOP, which engages in all pillars of PPCCC’s mission — healthcare, education, and advocacy. She explained that the Indigenous communities that MICOP serves come from Southern Mexico and are largely farmworkers. Often speaking only their native languages, they face language barriers, which, combined with cultural isolation, their immigration status, and low wages, lead to poverty and, in turn, poor health outcomes.
Tosh shared how MICOP has been a critical partner in serving Indigenous residents — providing interpreters, training staff on culturally relevant practices, advocating alongside PPCCC on myriad health issues, and partnering in bringing relevant sexuality education to Indigenous communities.
MICOP helped PPCCC create a patient brochure for medication abortion patients that uses illustration to explain aftercare instructions. This was recognized as a critical tool by Planned Parenthood Federation of America and the California Abortion Alliance.
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For the 2021 opening of PPCCC’s Oxnard center, MICOP convened focus groups for understanding the barriers Indigenous residents face in accessing healthcare, which informed decisions on having a Mixteco-speaking staff member and on hours of operation. MICOP’s collaboration also informed PPCCC’s decision to decorate the center with photos of people and places and with imagery that would help Indigenous residents feel welcome. Tosh invited guests to consider supporting MICOP.
Turning back to Planned Parenthood, Tosh explained that PPCCC provides a wide range of health services, including birth control, sexually transmitted infection testing and treatment, and breast and cervical cancer screening. She reminded guests of the “dire threat” abortion access is under. In the next year, according to Tosh, it is likely that people in 26 states will lose their right and access. While the wealthy can travel out of state, Tosh noted, it is low-income people who will lose access.
Tosh explained how Planned Parenthood is part of the CA Future of Abortion Council, which was created by Governor Gavin Newsom as CA prepares to become the nation’s abortion provider. The council is working to ensure that CA is prepared to meet the needs of patients and to protect and support abortion providers.
PPCCC is already seeing a rise in out-of-state patients. It is hiring more professional staff and expanding the physical space of its centers. It is working with educational institutions to ensure comprehensive reproductive training. It is raising more funds to enable PPCCA to care for everyone, regardless of the ability to pay. In concluding remarks, Tosh proclaimed that “everyone should have the freedom and power to control their own bodies and lives. And we won’t stop fighting until they do…. Your support is needed more than ever.”
In the 2020/21 fiscal year, PPCCC served 24,133 patients at its six centers, 5,336 of those at its S.B. center. Both figures were down (by 22 and 31 percent) from two years earlier because of COVID constraints. In 2020/21, PPCCC provided 1,574 individuals with reproductive health education. Of its $20.8 million in revenue that year, 73 percent came from patient services and one percent from investment, leaving a significant gap to be filled by fundraising. A separate entity, the Planned Parenthood Central Coast Action Fund, engages in advocacy.