Celebrating Roe v. Wade with Dr. Ruth

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Within the first 60 seconds of her keynote address at Planned Parenthood of Illinois' The Future of Choice event, legendary sexpert Dr. Ruth Westheimer was able to work in a naughty word or two before admonishing the chatty crowd, finger wagging, "Whoever is talking so loud, you will have a horrible sex life!"

The January 21 event was dedicated to celebrating the 37th anniversary of the landmark Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.

Introduced by Debby Herbenick, PhD, Time Out Chicago's sex and dating columnist and author of Because It Feels Good, Dr. Ruth needed a little boost from a wooden box to speak from behind the podium. But that was the only help she needed. From that moment on, she excited and encourage the crowd, praising them for their dedication to safe sex, contraception education and providing safe, affordable abortion services.

Westheimer got her start in sexuality education at Planned Parenthood. "I would never have been Dr. Ruth if it weren't for Planned Parenthood of New York City," she proclaimed. Hired to do post-partum research in 1967, that research eventually grew into her doctoral dissertation, "and the rest is history."

On the topic of abortion debates, Dr. Ruth said no one will ever find her in an abortion debate because of the extreme frustrations associated with often-violent or extremist anti-choice arguments. Although there was the one time when the Oxford University Debate Team invited her to participate in a forum where she would compete with a woman who was anti-sex education and anti-abortion -- essentially against everything Dr. Ruth stands for.

Fortunately for her, a wonderful coincidence happened: "I met her sister in NY...who hates her." After plying the woman for her sister's weaknesses, Westheimer learned her debate opponent had a soft spot for alcohol. So, once at the debate, "I made sure that I made one toast after another. I made believe that I drank. Her glass was always full. You can guess who won.

In addition to Dr. Ruth, Chicago Alderman Vi Daley (D-43) was awarded with PPIL's Richard J Phelan Profile in Courage Award for sponsoring and passing a "bubble zone" ordinance in the Chicago City Council.

Those in attendance were set home from the gala with a homework assignment from Dr. Ruth: "Those of you with partners -- don't try to pick someone up in this room -- I want you to go home and try a new position tonight. Call me in the morning and tell me [how it went.]"