“What a time to be holding this centennial,” said Hillary Clinton.
It was a 100-year birthday party for Planned Parenthood, held in downtown New York with 1,200 guests and pinks balloons as far as the eye could see. The non-profit has come under fire since the election because Republicans want to cut federal funding from its clinics that perform abortions, in addition to offering cancer screenings, STD tests and other medical services.
As an antidote, Clinton turned to a popular Hulu TV series. “Just ask those who have been watching ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ a book I read and was captivated by years ago,” Clinton said. “I’m not suggesting this dystopian future is around the corner, but this show has prompted important conversations about women’s rights and autonomy.”
“In ‘The Handmaid’s Tale,’ women’s rights are gradually, slowly, stripped away,” Clinton continued, during a 17-minute speech that led to two standing ovations. “As one character says, ‘We didn’t look up from our phones until it was too late.’ It’s not too late for us. We have to encourage the millions of women and men to keep fighting.”
Clinton, who has made a series of public appearances in recent weeks, once again brought up winning the popular vote — with roughly 66 million ballots — in the election. She spoke about the causes that still mattered to her, as well as her travels abroad, where she witnessed botched illegal abortions.
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“Now I sometimes ask why I care so deeply about these issues,” Clinton said. “I always find it a bewildering question for me. We’ll start with … I’m a woman, mother, grandmother, and much to the surprise of many, I am a human being. I am also a person of faith who doesn’t take my decisions lightly. My views have been shaped by my experiences.”
She mentioned statistics that showed abortions were on the decline, which she attributed to agencies like Planned Parenthood. “We know that America is at a 30-year-low for unintended pregnancies, and a 40-year-low for teen pregnancy and abortion,” she said.
“Let us respect people’s convictions, but never back down from our commitment to defend the ability of every women to make these deeply personal decisions for herself,” Clinton added.
There were many high-profile faces in the crowd, from Annette Bening to Scarlett Johansson. Meryl Streep presented an honorary award to Shonda Rhimes, a Planned Parenthood board member who has dealt with abortion on her hit TV series “Scandal.” “Women’s health needs protection,” Rhimes said.
Harvey Weinstein splurged $80,000 on a pastel painting by London painter Cecily Brown during a silent auction.
And Chelsea Handler roasted Donald Trump in her opening remarks, as she spoke about Planned Parenthood’s array of services. “Perhaps if our president had visited one of these health centers as a young man … he could have prevented symptoms of undiagnosed long-term syphilis,” she said, alluding to angry outburst and bouts of paranoia. “Look it up: it all matches.”