Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Planned Parenthood: Like a Trusted Friend

I have never used Planned Parenthood.

I've had the privilege of being on my parents' health insurance—provided by the government for whom they worked as public school teachers—as a child and as a dependent college student, and the privilege of jobs which provided me with access to health insurance throughout most of my adult life, and the privilege of being able to access health insurance through my spouse's job now that I am self-employed. My primary care has always been through a general practitioner at a local clinic.

And, although I've been in need of contraception since the age of 18, hormonal birth control doesn't agree with me. I've used barrier methods my entire life.

I've also never needed an abortion.

That's something I've never wanted to say on this blog—that I've never had an abortion. I've never wanted to say it, because it always felt like distancing myself from people who have had abortions (and it was frankly no one else's business either way). But now it's important to acknowledge that truth as part of explaining why Planned Parenthood is so valuable to me: I would have terminated a pregnancy at virtually every point in my life thus far, and I would have gone to Planned Parenthood for the abortion.

Because I have not wanted to be pregnant, but have wanted to have PIV sex, I am fastidious about using birth control. Nonetheless, particularly when I was younger, every period that was even a day late could arouse in me a desperate panic that I was pregnant. It is an exaggeration to say I had Planned Parenthood on speed dial just in case, but not much of one. I knew where my local Planned Parenthood clinic was, I knew how much an abortion cost, and I was never intimate with anyone who might have tried to coerce me into making a different decision.

I was comfortable with my plan, and would not be dissuaded from it—and that comfort and certainty was possible because Planned Parenthood had helped one of my high school acquaintances terminate a pregnancy, and another of my high school acquaintances have a baby, by providing her with low-cost prenatal care. They took good care of women. And I knew, if I ever needed them, they would take good care of me.

I know that still. Of course, their ability to provide healthcare to me, if I should need it, and to millions of other ladies, gents, and gender-rebels across this nation, is contingent upon the people we elect to office understanding—and caring—that Planned Parenthood is an integral part of communities, and that providing abortions is one small part of a network of necessary services, but it is also a crucial part of those services.

And it always will be, as long as there are people who don't want to be pregnant.

That there are women—like me—who don't want to be pregnant, who desperately don't want to be pregnant, at a particular moment in their lives or throughout their entire lives, is anathema to the opponents of Planned Parenthood. They can't abide the thought that there exist women who, even given all the "right" circumstances for parenthood, all the things that are meant to make motherhood irresistibly desirable and eminently doable—a stable partnership, a stable job, a stable income, a stable home, stability security stability security stability security—actively choose something else for our lives.

We are selfish, they say. We are frivolous, they say. We are unnatural. That's what they say.

But, at Planned Parenthood, we are not regarded as selfish, or frivolous, or unnatural. We are women. We are patients. We are making a choice.

I have never used Planned Parenthood, but I choose to support Planned Parenthood—because I know if I ever needed their services, they would support me.

Read the rest of the My Planned Parenthood Carnival posts here.