The Face of Planned Parenthood
With the unprecedented social media blitz raining down on Planned Parenthood as we enter the latest way-too-long election cycle, I figured it was time to pipe up. It comes as no surprise to anyone who knows me that the hashtag #istandwithplannedparenthood would be one that I support. But for anyone who found their way to this blog via our Pare Down Facebook page, or a recipe on Pinterest, and who now wants nothing to do with Pare Down, I invite you to give this a read.
First, a little about me. I am a mother of two wonderful boys who were planned (kind of, they showed up more on their schedule than mine, but you get the gist) and wanted. My husband and I welcomed them into a home that was well stocked with clothes, diapers, a grip of baby gear, and hugs and kisses to spare. I loved setting up the nursery, and then adapting it to welcome a second son, almost as much as I loved the babies themselves. Almost. But come on, this was cute!
How lucky were we? Our boys were healthy. We had the means to support them. We had the emotional maturity to take care of them (insert booger joke here). I am grateful that I never had to face the choice of what to do in the case of an unwanted or unsafe pregnancy. But if I had, I would again feel grateful to live in a country where this very painful, very personal decision would have been both safe and legal. Because let’s be straight on this one topic, when abortions were illegal they still happened. Rich women traveled to obtain them safely, and poor women resorted to more dangerous measures, but abortions were still being performed. There is a great short documentary from 1992 called When Abortion Was Illegal that is currently streaming on YouTube. Let those women tell you themselves how illegal abortion affected their lives, because unlike me they lived through it.
Again, I support safe and legal abortions. You don’t have to. I don’t have the ability (or desire) to change an anti-abortionist’s stance on the issue any more than they could change mine. But that’s a moot point, because abortion is legal. Signed, stamped, out-of-the-alleys-since-1973 legal. People can protest all they want, it’s their American right, but like it or leave it abortion is here to stay.
What we do stand to lose is universal access to Planned Parenthood, that often vilified baby-hating abortion factory. This is where I take issue.
While I have never had an abortion, I have certainly taken advantage of Planned Parenthood. When you wonder what kind of woman would go there, the answer is me. I used to go there. A lot. For five years, while I was fresh out of college and struggling with an acting career, Planned Parenthood was my main source of health care.
When I lived in Chicago, Planned Parenthood provided yearly pap exams and discounted birth control. (Not that I was having sex. Are you kidding? My parents read this blog.) Even better, when I was living in Los Angeles and among that city’s throng of nearly homeless acting hopefuls, my healthcare at Planned Parenthood was free. Yes, you read that correctly. At a time when I couldn’t afford a latte, I could still see a doctor for any number of lady problems, and good ol’ generic people problems, without having to cough up a dime. Granted I had to get buzzed in through a bullet-proof glass entryway to get there, but once inside it was just your average doctors office with crappy old magazines and daytime TV in the lobby.
It’s odd that no one is talking about the other services that Planned Parenthood provides. Sure, a standard pelvic exam won’t rile voters the same way that an inflammatory video does, but it’s just as big a part of the story. Statistically, it accounts for the majority of the story. My own husband grew up being taught that the only service PP provided was that of abortion. This is untrue. Let it be known: For many of the nation’s poor, and for those not-so-poor who may not have great reproductive coverage through their standard insurance, Planned Parenthood is a gateway to receiving quality, affordable healthcare. That’s it. By threatening to steal their funding and forcing a number of their doors to close, we are denying many of this nation’s men and women their right to receive basic exams, prescriptions, and yearly checkups.
So thank you, Planned Parenthood, for all that you provided me in the years when I would have had to go without ever seeing a doctor. Thank you for enabling me to take control of my body and make well-informed reproductive choices. I am so grateful for the care, and happy to report that my planned journey to parenthood has been a success.