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Choice Affair Luncheon to be held at Ellington’s on Jan. 25

By Staff | Jan 10, 2011

Michelle Goldberg at work for Salon.com in Baghdad, Iraq. Image by Matt Ipcar/Ipcar Photography.

In recognition of the 38th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood of Southwest and Central Florida, Inc. again is presenting its Lee County Choice Affair Luncheon.

The luncheon, which takes place on Tuesday, Jan. 25 beginning at 11:30 a.m. at Ellington’s Jazz Bar & Restaurant, features Michelle Goldberg, who will discuss topics addressed in her recent book, “The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World.”

Michelle Goldberg is a peripatetic journalist and author who has always been fascinated by the intersection of ideology, sex and politics. Her first book, the New York Times bestseller, “Kingdom Coming: The Rise of Christian Nationalism,” delved into some of the reddest precincts of the United States to expose the ascendant politico-religious fundamentalism dominating the Republican Party and, at the time, the Bush administration.

“I’ve heard from several other locations where Michelle has spoken that she’s not only a very good writer, but an excellent speaker as well,” Sanibel resident Judy Goldenberg said.

Goldenberg has been involved in Planned Parenthood for many years, originally in Minnesota where she used to live. She is a member of the First Choice Luncheon Committee and the area affiliate board.

“My concern is for the future — my kids, my grandkids. I want them to have the same choices we had or we made for ourselves. I care a lot because I feel each person should have a choice in this very personal matter,” said Goldenberg. “There is such a need for more education, and Planned Parenthood is good at filling that need. I don’t feel the public understands what Planned Parenthood mission is. It’s primarily an educational organization, definitely not a contraceptive or abortion mill.”

“It was unbelievable to me how much worse the statistics were here in Florida than in Minnesota — much higher numbers of HIV or HIV-related disease, many more teenage pregnancies. Kids need more education, not less, anything that would give them more of a chance. It’s scary what they’re being asked for in today’s world, what’s out there,” she concluded.

Another member of the committee and the board, John D. Harries, MD, is not a retired OB/GYN as one might assume, but a retired anesthesiologist. He too is extremely interested in the education Planned Parenthood is providing.

“I remember from fairly early in my residency — when you’re being rotated through many different disciplines — a 12-year-old girl came in, in labor and about to deliver, with her grandmother,” Harries recalled. “She brought a coloring book with her. She had no concept, none at all, about what was about to happen to her — no idea of the pain, no idea of the outcome, nothing. That experience left its mark on me for life.”

Before she started writing books, Goldberg was a senior writer for Salon.com. Her work has also appeared in Glamour, Rolling Stone, The Nation, New York, The Guardian (UK) and The New Republic. She is a contributing editor at Religion Dispatches and a senior correspondent for the American Prospect, where she has recently started writing a bi-monthly web column about human rights and foreign policy.

Goldberg has reported extensively from around the world. She has taught at NYU’s Graduate School of Journalism, lectured throughout the United States and in Europe, and has been interviewed on hundreds of radio shows. When she’s not on the road, she spends as much time as possible in her Cobble Hill, Brooklyn neighborhood with her husband, designer/photographer Matthew Ipcar.

After “Kingdom Coming” was released, Goldberg spent the next two years traveling the globe to research “The Means of Reproduction: Sex, Power and the Future of the World.” Reported from four continents, the book examines issues such as abortion, female circumcision and Asia’s missing girls to show how the battle over women’s bodies has been globalized and how, too often, the United States has supported the most reactionary forces — conservatives who see women’s submission as key to their own national or religious identity.

As “The Means of Reproduction” reveals, this conflict has come to define pressing questions of global development. Empowering women is the key to retarding the progress of AIDS, curbing overpopulation and helping the third world climb out of poverty.

From the anti-communist genesis of America’s attempts to stem population growth in poor countries to the current worldwide attack on women’s rights as a “decadent Western imposition,” Goldberg explores the interplay between the great issues of our time and the politics of sex and childbearing. Finally, “The Means of Reproduction” shows how women, strengthened by a solidarity that transcends borders, are fighting for freedom.

Barbara Zdravecky, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood, will also present her State of the Agency address at the event.

Committee members for the luncheon include Caroline LeGette, Ellis Robinson, Jill Dillon, Barbara L. King, Alice and Joseph Walzer, Carol Daniels and Dick Jacker, in addition to Phyllis and Bill Brewer, Judy and Herb Goldenberg, Eleanor and John Harries, and Marge and Dan Peterson. Goldenberg and Harries, both residents of Sanibel, are on the board of Southwest & Central Florida Planned Parenthood.

The cost to attend the event is $50 per person, and there are sponsorships available. For reservations and information, register online at www.myplannedparenthood.org or call 941-365-3913 ext. 1124. Proceeds benefit Planned Parenthood¹s reproductive health services and prevention education programs in Lee County.