Planned Parenthood and Raygun raise the B.A.R. with a packed house

Mike Draper (L), Suzanna de Baca (C), Misty Rebik (R) during the May 10 Planned Parenthood mixer at Raygun. — photo by Akwi Nji

Mike Draper, founder and CEO of Raygun, along with Suzanna de Baca, president and CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Heartland, teamed up to pull off one of the largest Planned Parenthood events in Eastern Iowa. The mixer, hosted on Wednesday, May 10, by Draper at Raygun’s Cedar Rapids location, attracted more than 200 intergenerational Planned Parenthood supporters and women’s rights advocates.

The event was sponsored by B.A.R. (Born After Roe), which works to engage supporters born after Roe v. Wade, the landmark decision regarding women’s rights made by the United States Supreme Court in 1973.

Event organizers prepare to welcome more than 200 Planned Parenthood supporters to a mixer hosted by Raygun in Cedar Rapids. — photo by Akwi Nji

Jessalyn Holdcraft, one of Planned Parenthood’s board members, explained that the event was designed to engage a new generation of Planned Parenthood advocates. “We’re excited about using a place like Raygun to host these events,” Holdcraft said. “It’s important that the younger generations get involved and become strong advocates.”

Iowa City resident and Planned Parenthood supporter Ashley Shields (L) with her daughters, Daphne (C) and Vivian (R). — photo by Akwi Nji

Who better to engage younger supporters than Draper and Raygun? Known for their humorous slogans, Raygun also packs a persistent punch with their unflinching integration of hot-button political phrases.

Many attendees donned pink Raygun shirts reading “Nevertheless, we persist,” a riff on a line of the company’s T-shirts inspired by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren’s recent actions which led to her stunning dismissal from the Senate floor by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.

At Raygun, politics and humor share space on the shelves. “We must be the largest clothing company with uteri on our products. You just don’t see the uterus on Urban Outfitters,” Draper joked. Turning more serious, he explained that he and his wife actively support organizations they believe in and, by using Raygun’s name recognition to support those organizations, “offer support that can move the meter a bit.”

“So much of the abortion debate is shame-based,” he said. “It’s not about abortion. It’s about control of people. Women should be entrusted to make difficult decisions about their body. It seems so obvious to me.”

From left to right: Suzanna de Baca, Jessalyn Holdcraft, Misty Rebik, and Mike Draper address the crowd of more than 200. — photo by Akwi Nji

In her address to the crowd, de Baca acknowledged the breadth of Planned Parenthood’s services and focused on its efforts in the Cedar Rapids community where Planned Parenthood’s patient visits exceeded 3,000 last year. “We offer family planning, well-women exams, and we started transgender care right here in Cedar Rapids,” de Baca said, igniting enthusiastic applause. “Every citizen has the right to high quality, compassionate care,” she added.

For many in the crowd, like Paul Wittau, attending this mixer meant supporting women’s rights. “It comes down to women having a voice to do what they want with their bodies,” he said. “It doesn’t make sense to me that mostly male politicians try to dictate what women do with their bodies.” Wittau also appreciates the services offered by Planned Parenthood, noting that he encourages others to use the STI testing services and to take advantage of sexual education information offered at the sites.

Planned Parenthood volunteers with Suzanna de Baca (CL) and Mike Draper (CR). — photo by Akwi Nji

Misty Rebik, Planned Parenthood’s Regional Director of Strategic Partnerships and Development, stressed the mission to ignite interest from intergenerational supporters–particularly those born after 1973. “Reproductive rights and women’s rights are under attack and those born after Roe v. Wade are directly impacted,” she said. “We need them to come out and chip away at the stigma, join us and be courageous in this fight.”

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