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Planned Parenthood celebrates Women's Day, sees protests

March 8, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
International Women's Day was first celebrated 101 years ago. Since then, the celebration has spread across the globe. At the Santa Monica Civic Center, hundreds gathered Thursday night where they ate, drank and donated money to Planned Parenthood, an organization that advocates for women's health and is not without controversy.

This year's annual Planned Parenthood Los Angeles food fair fundraiser coincided with International Women's Day.

"It's a time when Planned Parenthood is doing something really powerful and it's a time when we're being attacked and I think it's a major human and women's right that we're standing up for," said celebrity chef Suzanne Goin, who was present at the event.

Planned Parenthood advocates women's reproductive rights, and is also the nation's largest provider of abortions. A handful of protesters gathered outside to make their voices heard Thursday night.

"Even though they do other functions, they do murder and it is wrong to be killing innocent humans," said protester Katherine Contreras

Access to contraception and funding to pay for it has become a hot political issue of late, and Planned Parenthood says it's winning the battle.

"99 percent of women are using contraception in this country, the fight for us is to make sure every woman, man and family has access to care," said Planned Parenthood Los Angeles CEO Sue Dunlap.

Earlier Thursday, hundreds marched through the streets of L.A. to celebrate women's right. Around the world, there were thousands of events which marked the economic, political and social achievement of women.

In Washington, first lady Michelle Obama was joined by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in presenting this year's Women of Courage Awards to 10 women from the around the globe.

"Despite the risks they face, despite the hardships they endure, these women carry on because they know that they are fighting not just for their own rights and freedoms but for the rights and freedoms of so many others," Obama said.

Organizers of the fundraiser said this year's event was the largest ever with 1,200 people paying $250 per ticket.