FORT WORTH, Texas - Protesters gathered outside the Omni Hotel in Fort Worth on Wednesday where Barbara Bush spoke to at a sold-out Planned Parenthood luncheon.
Barbara Bush, daughter of former President George W. Bush, was the keynote speaker for the event because she is the CEO and co-founder of Global Health Corps, an organization that advocates health equality. In the past, she has also worked with the Smithsonian Institute, Red Cross, UNICEF and the UN World Food Program.
Media was not allowed into the private event, but reps with Planned Parenthood say they had a record number of more than 1,000 attendees at this year's luncheon and raised hundreds of thousands for the organization.
“And spoke what we all believe — that women's healthcare should not be politicized and that all women and individuals should have access to healthcare,” said Ken Lambrecht, President of Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas. “And she stood up for the 85,000 women and teens we serve here in Texas.”
Barbara Bush’s father's pro-life track record during his presidency might make her seem a surprising guest. But no one FOX 4 talked to who attended the event said she mentioned abortion. She has been part of a global health initiative for years and talked about it in Dallas in 2013.
"It was by traveling and meeting so many inspiring people and witnessing the immense needs around the world that I become interested in the field of global health and, in particular, women's health,” she said.
Bush’s message struck a chord with attendees like Aubrey Reinhardt, who had difficulties getting access to contraception before the help of Planned Parenthood.
“An issue of healthcare shouldn't be an issue,” Reinhardt said. “It is a basic human right for everybody to receive basic health care.”
The state of Texas has been battling to strip Planned Parenthood of Medicaid funds for years. A handful of pro-life protesters gathered outside the event. They said they were disappointed in Bush's choice to be there supporting Planned Parenthood.
Demonstrators gathered from Students for Life of America, Pro-Life Waco, the Catholic Diocese of Dallas’ Pro-Life Committee, the Prestonwood Pregnancy Center in Dallas and the Texas Pro-Life Action Team.
“They paint themselves as this safe haven for women's health care. When in fact, women who go there end up more harmed,” said Jillian Ferguson with Students for Life of America. “It’s just confusing to me why she would lend her talents, her abilities and her time to an organization that so clearly does not care about people when she so clearly does.”
The groups said there is no amount of good that can make up for the hundreds of thousands of innocent lives lost because of Planned Parenthood every year.
Reps for Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas say they’ve raised a record $400,000 at the luncheon. Since the election, they’ve seen donations have doubled compared to the year before. The number of volunteers has also skyrocketed.