Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood Action Fund, speaks at the 41st Anniversary Roe v. Wade Celebration at the Balboa Bay Resort in Newport Beach. (Planned Parenthood / January 28, 2014)

Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards told a crowd of more than 250 supporters Wednesday in Newport Beach that the fight to uphold abortion rights must continue because women's health and lives are at stake.

"We won the battle in 1973 with Roe vs. Wade, which was very significant at the time, but the fight to uphold a woman's right to make her own reproductive choices is still happening today," she said.

In the landmark case, the Supreme Court legalized abortion in the first trimester of pregnancy based on the right of privacy, striking down dozens of state antiabortion statutes.

The decision was handed down Jan. 22, 1973.

Richards gave the keynote address at a Roe vs. Wade anniversary event at the Balboa Bay Resort sponsored by the Action Fund of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties.

Event co-Chairs Liz McNabb and Mikey Herring spearheaded the luncheon, which raised more than $90,000 for local advocacy work.

"It's important to celebrate the anniversary of Roe vs. Wade because it had and continues to have such an impact on women's health, both here in Orange County and nationally," said Jon Dunn, president and chief executive of Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties Action Fund.

He added that in many regions of the country access to comprehensive reproductive healthcare is becoming more prohibitive. In 2013, 22 states adopted 70 different restrictions limiting access to abortion.

Dunn noted that California has bucked the trend by expanding access to women's healthcare in 2013, but added that it is essential that voters elect pro-women's health office holders to safeguard protections.

"The future of women's health in California depends on maintaining a political environment that continues to make access to women's health services a top priority," Dunn said. "That's why we must fight to elect local pro-women's health candidates like Assembly member Sharon Quirk-Silva and Senate candidate Jose Solorio, and elect school board members who support comprehensive health education."

Richards, who has been a longtime advocate of women's reproductive rights, also urged the audience to continue the mission and engage young people in the conversation.

She emphasized the need to find new ways, such as social media, to organize supporters and build a new generation of leaders ready to fight for access to women's health services.

The event was attended by state Controller John Chiang.

For more information, visit http://www.ppactionca.org/local-info/orangehttp://www.ppactionca.org/local-info/orange.

KATE JEFFREY is vice president of external affairs for Planned Parenthood of Orange and San Bernardino Counties. Reader Reports may be submitted to dailypilot@latimes.com.