By Darla Shelden
City Sentinel Reporter
CHOICES 2016, an annual art sale, silent auction, and dinner benefiting Planned Parenthood Great Plains, will be held Saturday, September 17 at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum, 1700 NE 63rd Street in Oklahoma City.
The Patron Champagne Art Preview Reception begins at 5 p.m. in the S.B. Burk Burnett Board Room followed by the Silent Auction and Art Sale at 6 p.m. Dinner will be served at 7:30 p.m. in the Sam Noble Room and the CHOICE 2016 Awards Recognition Ceremony will take place at 8 p.m.
Proceeds from the event will go directly to support costs for Planned Parenthood patients in central Oklahoma.
Following the awards presentation, CHOICES 2016 featured guest speaker and reproductive justice advocate Dr. Willie Parker will share his story with the audience.
Willie J. Parker, M.D, MPH, MSc, is a board-certified obstetrician and gynecologist who provides abortion care to women in the South.
In a recent article for Cosmopolitan, Parker said, “I realized that I couldn’t turn my back on women who desperately needed help. More and more frequently, I was seeing women with unplanned, unwanted pregnancies — or wanted, but lethally flawed, ones.”
In 2009, he stopped doing obstetrics and began traveling across the South to “ensure that women are able to receive the care they need.”
Parker wrote an opinion piece in 2015 for the New York Times titled “Why I provide abortions.” In it he stated, “I want for women what I want for myself: a life of dignity, health, self-determination and the opportunity to excel and contribute. We know that when women have access to abortion, contraception and medically accurate sex education, they thrive.”
Dr. Parker is a board member of The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice, Physicians for Reproductive Health, and URGE (Unite for Reproductive & Gender Equity). In addition to reproductive health rights, his work focuses on violence against women and sexual assault prevention.
The art sale will showcase dozens of works by 35 premier artists such as Romy Owens, Denise Duong, Diane Coady, Suzanne Mears, Paul Medina, Sue Moss Sullivan, and Anita Fream. For a complete list of artists, visit www.partyforpp.org/choices.
The featured art this year is a sculpture by artist Holly Wilson. “Wallflower,” which was created for CHOICES 2016 and will be available for purchase at the silent auction.
Guests will bid on more than 100 silent auction items and packages ranging from restaurant and retail gift certificates to sporting event tickets and themed packages.
That evening PPGP will recognize various individuals for their support. Award recipients include: Marilyn Artus – The Sally Mock Friend of Planned Parenthood Award; Vicki and David Hunt – The Margaret Sanger Legacy Award; Linda Scoggins – The Rod Frates Choice Award; Roger Strong – The 2016 Volunteer of the Year Award; and Dana Stone, M.D., Phil Rettig, M.D., Ken Stein, and Theresa Williams – the Board Service Award.
And this year, the Outstanding Staff Service Award will recognize the entire PPGP staff.
The CHOICES 2016 organizing team includes Emma Rolls, Event Chair; Titi Fitzsimmons, M.D., Event Co-Chair; Marilyn Artus, Art Sale Curator; and Philip J. Rettig, M.D., Patron Chair.
“The 15th Annual Planned Parenthood Choices event will be a particularly special night to the Planned Parenthood Great Plains family as we celebrate the expansion of services in three states this year,” said Planned Parenthood Great Plains President and CEO, Laura McQuade.
“PPGP’s generous donors, the talented artists who donated their pieces, and Dr. Willie Parker, who is traveling to Oklahoma City from Alabama to share his inspiring story of commitment to abortion access, ensure that our patients can access the highest quality reproductive and sexual health care that PPGP offers everyday.”
Individual tickets are $125 and sponsorships are available. Reservations can be online or checks made out to Planned Parenthood Great Plains can be sent to 619 NW 23rd Street, Oklahoma City, OK 73103. Patrons are asked to include the names of their guests.