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Planned Parenthood Honors Katharine Hepburn and Mother

March 15, 1988 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) _ Katharine Hepburn, whose outspoken suppport of women’s reproductive rights is a family tradition, made a rare public appearance Monday night when Planned Parenthood honored her and her late mother at a gala affair.

The 79-year-old Miss Hepburn received a standing ovation from 1,100 guests at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel for the black-tie event, titled ″Celebrating Two Generations of Individual Courage.

″It’s a frightfully important subject,″ the actress said of women’s rights to abortion and birth control. ″And I’m damn lucky to have had a mother who waked me up at an early age″ to the importance of ″doing things for other people.″

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Attired in a black pantsuit, Miss Hepburn said, ‴When a girl becomes pregnant should she be forced by law to have this baby? She’s 13. She doesn’t want it. She can’t support it. Her family doesn’t want it. It would seem to me that she should be allowed to have an abortion.″

Miss Hepburn was ″enthusiastic″ about the party, said Winston Forrest, vice president of Planned Parenthood Federation of America.

″She felt her mother deserved the honoring,″ he said.

The black-tie event is to benefit a Planned Parenthood fund to honor Miss Hepburn’s mother, Katharine Houghton Hepburn.

Proceeds from the dinner, priced at $500 to $1,000 a ticket, will be dedicated to Miss Hepburn’s three priorities: keeping abortion safe and legal, preventing teen-age pregnancies and preserving family planning for the poor.

Her mother, an early supporter of birth control, worked alongside Planned Parenthood founder Margaret Sanger more than 70 years ago.

Mrs. Hepburn, a member of the Houghton family that founded Corning Glass, testified before the U.S. Senate in the 1930s on the need for birth control, particularly for poor women, Forrest said.

She maintained that ″a rich woman could get the information and access to birth control but the poor woman could not,″ he said.

She died in 1951 at the age of 73.

Miss Hepburn became involved in Planned Parenthood in 1981. The group’s president, Faye Wattleton, recruited the actress ″to take on the legacy her mother had established by volunteering to write letters and be spokesperson for reproductive rights and abortion rights for women,″ Forrest said.

He said her involvement has brought the organization an additonal 200,000 donors and supporters.