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Milken master’s student receives award at Planned Parenthood gala

Singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and State Sen. Ariana Kelly (D-MD) also won awards at the event.
Florence Shen | Assistant Photo Editor
Brittany House, a master’s in public health candidate, accepted the Catalyst Award for her work as a patient advocate and an abortion storyteller for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington.

A master’s student in the Milken Institute School of Public Health accepted an award from Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington at their Impact Gala on Friday.

Brittany House, a master’s in public health candidate, received the Catalyst Award for her work as a patient advocate and an abortion storyteller for PPMW, which includes recounting her experience receiving an abortion to members of Congress and lobbying for reproductive health care access. PPMW also honored singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers, Rep. Jamie Raskin (D-MD) and State Sen. Ariana Kelly (D-MD) with awards at the Waldorf Astoria event.

In an interview with The Hatchet, House said she felt “amazing” to have received the award, which represents the culmination of her seven years volunteering for Planned Parenthood. She said after growing up in a Catholic community in Baltimore, she had an abortion for an unwanted pregnancy when she was 21, adding Planned Parenthood empowered her to tell her story and advocate for other women’s reproductive rights.

“Planned Parenthood gave me the tools and confidence to tell my story to actually give voice to other women who are like me,” House said. “If you have an unwanted pregnancy, you just shouldn’t have a baby just because, right? Like you have choice, and also your career matters.”

House said studying at Milken gave her a different perspective on American health care by teaching her about health care in other countries. She said one of her favorite classes is Comparative Global Health Systems, and learning about the health care systems in countries like Poland and Cuba provides insight into how the American health care system can be improved to “do well” by patients.

House said she started her work volunteering as a patient advocate at Planned Parenthood after the 2016 presidential election because she was disappointed Hillary Clinton didn’t win and because she didn’t have money to donate to organizations that protect reproductive health care access.

“At the time I didn’t really have a lot of money to donate, but I had time,” House said. “I definitely want to be at the forefront of abortion storytelling for Black women and definitely telling diverse perspectives and stories about our experiences with reproductive health access.”

House said the Catalyst Award is emblematic of her advocacy to reduce stigma around abortions by telling stories of people who have experienced the procedure.

“To be a catalyst to me means to evoke change or create change,” House said. “And I love that because that’s something that I want to do, is create change in the world, especially for women.”

Rogers received the Disruptor Award for contributing some of the proceeds of her merchandise to PPMW’s abortion access fund, which pays for the cost of flights, lodging and food for people who must travel to receive abortions. While accepting the award, she said Planned Parenthood has been in the lobby of almost every show she’s played at since 2018 to collect donations.

She said her partnership with Planned Parenthood is “obvious” because she is “terrified” about the future and has a uterus. Rogers said her job as an artist is to amplify PPMW’s mission and that she feels committed to telling the truth about reproductive health care and translating data and information into stories people can feel.

The Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade in June 2022, ending federal abortion protections and triggering a rollback of abortion protections in at least 14 states.

“I don’t actually think there’s anything disruptive about telling the truth,” Rogers said.

Raskin received the Ally Award for his work to protect reproductive health care access. Raskin introduced a bill in the House of Representatives to protect an individual’s right to travel across state lines for an abortion in February.

Raskin said Planned Parenthood is there for every person who needs health care and that he will work to continue supporting the organization.

“I don’t know that I deserve this award, but I’ll tell you that I will work to deserve this award every day that I’m in public life, in public office,” Raskin said.

Kelly accepted the Champion of Reproductive Health Award for her years supporting health care access in politics like sponsoring Maryland’s Abortion Care Access Act, which increased the amount of health care providers that can perform abortions in the state and required insurance coverage for abortion care. Kelly said she considers the award her “lifetime achievement” award because she’s been a health care advocate for two decades and in Maryland politics for 12 years.

She said she wants Maryland to help people in states where abortion is not legal or accessible by reducing the stigma around abortion and investing in resources like clinical training programs and the abortion access fund.

“The work that we all do in this room, it’s extremely painful, it’s hard, it hurts a lot, but we do it because it’s worth it,” Kelly said.

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About the Contributors
Rory Quealy, Assistant News Editor
Rory Quealy is a sophomore majoring in journalism and mass communications from La Grange, Illinois. She is the 2023-2024 assistant news editor for the Health and Research beat.
Cade McAllister, Events Editor
Cade McAllister is a sophomore double majoring in international affairs and political science from San Diego, California.  He is The Hatchet's 2023-2024 events editor.
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