By Diane Y. Welch
On Thursday, May 9, Planned Parenthood of the Pacific Southwest (PPPSW) will celebrate its Golden Anniversary. The half-century milestone will be marked with the affiliate’s biggest fundraiser of the year, a gala dinner at Hilton San Diego Bayfront.
This energizing night will feature a program that celebrates PPPSW’s causes along with an opportunity to reconnect with a motivated community of friends, said Kathleen Strauss, event co-chair along with Nora Taylor Jaffe.
Dr. Katharine Sheehan, medical director for PPPSW, with over 30 years of involvement, will receive the Lifetime Achievement Award and seven honorary chairs will be recognized for their generous contributions to this major affiliate of Planned Parenthood that includes San Diego, Riverside and Imperial counties. There will also be a funding match to The Strauss Family Foundation’s pledge of $50,000.
Guest speakers include Sarah Weddington, attorney, professor, and women’s rights advocate, best known for successfully arguing the landmark Roe v. Wade case before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1973; Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America; and Jessica Valenti, feminist author and blogger, and founder of Feministing.com.
Bob Filner, mayor of San Diego, will speak briefly and several local elected officials will be guests. A presentation of video highlights and photographs taken over the five decades will showcase past achievements with an eye on future growth.
According to PPPSW’s website, a San Diego clergyman, visiting a parishioner in a maternity ward in 1963, was asked for advice to secure aid in family planning. When he sought out an agency to which he might refer her, he discovered there was none. Because of this experience Reverend Arthur G. Elcombe began to recruit a group who soon established Planned Parenthood of San Diego.
Sara Moser became a part of that group in 1968.
“I didn’t realize then that it was such a new organization,” she said. Her involvement was personal after she had helped two former neighbors get illegal abortions. Both married — one with three children, the other with four — they each could not afford another child. Soon after that Moser relocated to San Diego. Her move coincided with the passage of the Therapeutic Abortion Act which had been made legal in 1967. “And so I jumped right in,” Moser said.
Planned Parenthood is about helping families — and particularly women — control their fertility and have children when they want them, said Moser who reflected that it has been, “great watching Planned Parenthood grow.”
What started out as educational outreach then developed into itinerant clinics in other organizations’ locations, eventually became a permanent clinic over a furniture store on Morena Blvd. Moser, then a volunteer, provided pregnancy counseling there but soon became a staff member.
She later served on the board of directors and spearheaded raising money for Planned Parenthood’s first building on the corner of Fifth and Hawthorn in San Diego. She was also hired to run a public affairs program and helped create the Action Fund that provided political campaign funding.