A Night to Remember

Even in a city that buzzes at all hours of every day, there was a palpable concentration of energy and urgency at the Center for Reproductive Rights Inaugural Gala. Celebrated writers, movie stars, and leaders and executives of every stripe gathered at Jazz at Lincoln Center to throw their staunch support behind our vision of a world in which reproductive rights are human rights, guaranteed and protected by governments across the globe.

And the timing of this momentous event, which raised more than $1.2 million to carry on the fight, could not have been better, coming on the heels of the launch of the Draw the Line campaign. In just 16 days, more than 159,000 have put their names to the Bill of Reproductive Rights.

Tina Fey at the GalaTina Fey, best known as the star and creator of 30 Rock, jumpstarted the evening with a monologue flush with the lacerating humor and insight into current events that has won her too many awards to name and kept her recent book atop best-seller lists for 35 weeks.

Our 550 guests then watched a stirring video made especially for the gala. Narrated by a host of celebrity supporters as well as attorneys at the Center, the film features some of the people who are on the front lines of this struggle every day, including two women whose human rights were violated in countries where reproductive health laws are oppressive and a culture of intolerance persists.

Supporters also heard from a Kansas doctor who practices medicine with her father , and together they’ve dedicated their professional lives to providing health care services that have been attacked relentlessly by anti-choice forces in that state.

Next, Nancy Northup, the Center’s president and CEO, paid tribute to the women whose work inspires ours, the many supporters who have made this mission of 20 years and counting possible, and the board members and staff that pursue its achievement relentlessly. And she reminded all that there’s so much more to do. “We need every one of you with us as we continue to fight the global legal battle to guarantee reproductive rights to women everywhere,” said Nancy, “whose lives and futures we can and will transform in the years to come.”

We honored two exemplary leaders for their longstanding contributions to the health and well-being of women worldwide. Michelle Bachelet, who was introduced by journalist, educator, and award-winning writer Isabel Allende, served as the president of Chile—the first woman to do so—before taking her current role as Under-Secretary-General and Executive Director of UN Women, continuing her lifelong work to advance women’s reproductive health, justice, and equality.

Amy W. Schulman, executive vice president and general counsel of Pfizer Inc., has long been a widely recognized leader in the legal and health care professions and a champion for women’s advancement and diversity. Diane Patrick, first lady of Massachusetts and eminent attorney, introduced Ms. Schulman.

The night would not have been complete without an expanded celebration of the enormous success of our Draw The Line Campaign. Film star Stanley Tucci expounded on the initial wave of excitement, and called on our guests to stand up and join forces with us against the relentless attacks on women’s health and rights by signing the Bill of Reproductive Rights.

It was an incredible night, the strongest possible affirmation that this fight is supported strongly and passionately at every level of our society, and that together we are building a powerful, far-reaching movement to demand that women’s fundamental rights are protected.