A crowd of 700 filled Aura, Portland’s newest music venue, to capacity on Oct. 27 for In This Together, an evening of inspiration, empowerment and unity in support of Planned Parenthood of Northern New England.

“There’s so much energy in this room,” said Amy Goldberg of Falmouth.

The keynote speech by Dr. Willie Parker, an ob-gyn and author of “Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice,” was the highlight of the evening.

“Women, men, families, LGBTQ people, teens and everybody else has been better off because you’ve decided to provide care no matter what, to no matter whom,” Dr. Parker said. “Cervical screenings, well woman care, prenatal care in some affiliates, trans care – you’ve done it all, no matter what, for no matter whom.”

As a longtime women’s health provider and a Christian, Parker explained that he eventually flipped the script from “Is it right for me provide abortion care?” to “Is it right for me to not provide abortion care when I know what women face?”

Looking out at a two-story audience of Planned Parenthood supporters, Parker said, “We need to battle for women.”

After Parker’s speech, it was announced that The Louis and Anne Abrons Foundation would contribute $25,000 if the live audience – along with Facebook Live viewers – matched that amount. Using text messaging, Planned Parenthood supporters met the $25,000 goal in less than half an hour.

“I’m thrilled with how many people are here supporting health care,” said Shannon Adams of Chebeague Island. She’d been volunteering at phone banks with 10 to 15 other supporters and didn’t realize how large the support base is.

“Against all odds, Planned Parenthood of Northern New England has been getting stronger,” said Chief Executive Officer Meagan Gallagher. “The people of Northern New England have stood up for Planned Parenthood in every way imaginable: You have volunteered by the hundreds, you have held countless fundraisers, you have marched, you have rallied, you drew a heart in chalk on the sidewalk in front of our Portland health center. Together we have become an immovable force that no president or act of Congress can tear apart.”

“We have been overwhelmed over the past year by the amount of support we’ve been getting,” said Nicole Clegg, vice president of public policy for Planned Parenthood of Northern New England. “But we have a lot of work to do. We have an administration that since day one has targeted Planned Parenthood.”

Planned Parenthood of Northern New England provides sexual and reproductive care at 21 health centers across Maine, New Hampshire and Vermont – everything from cancer screenings to transgender patient care to testing for sexually transmitted diseases.

Amy Paradysz is a freelance writer and photographer based in Scarborough. She can be reached at:

[email protected]