Monday night’s Planned Parenthood of Greater New York gala marked several milestones for the nonprofit: the first in-person gala since COVID-19, the first since the forming of PPGNY and, perhaps most notably, the first major fundraiser event since the overturning of Roe v. Wade in June 2022.
Guests included New York Sen. Chuck Schumer, “Succession” actress Annabelle Dexter-Jones, model Michele Hicks and singer-songwriter Lily Allen. While the night was a celebratory event for the nonprofit, the main topic of conversation was anything but — in a post-Roe v. Wade world, much of PPGNY’s efforts now focus on offering abortion care and other services to those living in states with restrictions.
The pink-lit event, held at The Glasshouse on the West Side of Manhattan, kicked off with a cocktail hour where guests sipped on dragon fruit drinks. Across the room, pops of pink were easy to spot, whether from accessories or full monochrome ensembles. Jasmine Wahi and Rebecca Pauline Jampol, codirectors of Project for Empty Space, a nonprofit that hosts art events around social issues, sported T-shirts that read “Abortion Is Normal” in silver glitter.
Many, including Schumer and New York State Attorney General Letitia James, posed at a photo booth holding signs with phrases like, “Abortion is health care” and “Protect abortion access.”
Guests also played around with artist Marilyn Minter’s photo app (which is now available to download and will donate proceeds to Planned Parenthood). Using the app, guests could take a selfie overlaid with text phrases written in steam, like “My Body, My Rights.”
“A lot of my activism [work] has been writing the word ‘resist’ or other things,” noted Minter, who donated artwork at the 2019 gala as well.
Comedian Irene Tu took to the stage during dinner to host the event and awards ceremony, noting her goal for hosting was “to do jokes” and “infuse some seriousness into” it, given the gravity of the evening. Chrissy Teigen and Padma Lakshmi were honored.
During her speech, Teigen, dressed in a yellow, robe-like gown, reflected on the pregnancy loss she experienced in 2020, when carrying her son Jack. She explained that it wasn’t until Roe v. Wade was overturned that she realized she’d had an abortion to ultimately save her life.
“I am one of the millions of people in this country who has had an abortion,” Teigen said during her acceptance speech. “My doctor and I had to make that painful decision to end my pregnancy so I could stay alive for my family. Today I am able to parent our three beautiful children because an abortion quite literally saved my life and let’s face it, John’s [Legend] life as well because they would f–king destroy him.”
Lakshmi also had a deep-rooted connection to Planned Parenthood that she reflected on during her speech. Similar to Teigen’s experience, Lakshmi’s mother underwent a life-saving abortion at Planned Parenthood, following a deadly car accident. Lakshmi recalled walking into the clinic with her mother, only to be met by protesters.
“Unfortunately for those protesters, the memory of that day formed a deep enough well that has fueled my activism for the last 30 years,” said Lakshmi, who was decked in a one-shouldered, silky red dress.
A film on Planned Parenthood’s efforts to create access was also shown, detailing the pregnancy of attendee Nancy Davis, who traveled from Louisiana to New York in order to get an abortion, after learning her fetus had a fatal condition.
After the apple and caramel desserts were served, Tu announced that throughout the evening PPGNY had raised more than $1.1 million. Guests took to the dance floor to celebrate, partying to a set by DJ Juicy, also known for her viral meme Instagram @PatiasFantasyWorld.
“People are really stepping up in this moment the way that we all have to to fight this fight that we should not be fighting again in 2023,” said PPGNY president and chief executive officer Wendy Stark. “The energy around people’s commitment is so profoundly moving.”