Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Planned Parenthood: My Life's Backdrop

by Shaker Gretchen in Washington

The first time I called Planned Parenthood, I was scheduling an appointment to get my annual exam and a birth control refill. I was about to be moving from Chicago to the Seattle area, so I called a few weeks ahead, thinking that surely my new-patient, no-insurance status would mean a longer wait. To my surprise, I was offered appointments the next day—I had to turn them down because I wasn't even in the state yet! By contrast, getting my first appointment with my current doctor, even with insurance, meant a two-month wait.

My exam was quick, as painless and no-fuss as possible, and free of any of the raised eyebrows or humiliating follow-up questions I'd had at other clinics. When I went to pay, they connected me with a Washington program that meant my exam and a year of birth control were free. I had no job at the time, and hadn't known how I would afford them—I just knew that I definitely couldn't afford to be pregnant.

I still can't afford to be pregnant—my fiance and I live paycheck to paycheck as is while he's working through nursing school. We take every possible precaution to prevent pregnancy, and yet every month I still spend the last days before my period arrives wondering: What if this month something went wrong?

Planned Parenthood has always been the answer to that question. They might not be where I'd ultimately end up, depending on the circumstances surrounding an unexpected pregnancy, but I know that they'd be where I would start. They could help me know what options I had, without judging the choice I ended up making. With Planned Parenthood under threat, my options are a whole lot more frightening: Somewhere else—Canada? I wouldn't even know where to start looking.

Even when I'm not actively using their services, Planned Parenthood is the background that makes it possible for me to have a healthy, safe, and fearless sexual life. They make it possible for me to be in a relationship and pursue my dreams at the same time. Maybe someday those dreams will include a child—and if that's the case, I hope that Planned Parenthood will still be around to support me then.

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