by Shaker M
[Trigger warning for reproductive coercion.]
Once upon a time a young woman had the misfortune of finding herself in a situation of having an unplanned pregnancy that was unwanted by her partner.
How many times have we heard stories like this? If this was the only information you had about the situation, how complete is your knowledge of the woman or her situation?
It wouldn't shock anyone who knew my story to know that this was exactly the situation I found myself in August 23, 2002 when my story unfolded.
I found myself in the small office of the local Planned Parenthood, with my husband discussing MY options with a counselor, giving details, setting up appointments…never letting me out of his sight, never letting me discuss what I might want or need, never letting me say more than I agreed.
Instead of an unmarried teenager finding herself pregnant and unsupported by a boyfriend I was a 28 year old, well educated, married, mother of one finding herself in the position of realizing she is pregnant with a child that her husband is pressuring her to abort.
On their 5th Anniversary.
My husband tried to force me to have an abortion I didn't want. He set up appointments for me with Planned Parenthood and the abortion doctor, and made sure that he spoke for "us", never letting me have my say except to nod and agree that this was what I wanted—knowing what I would face at home later if I didn't agree to go through with his demands or if I "shamed" him in front of the nurse.
My local Planned Parenthood offices do not have a doctor on staff full time. Here they primarily provide information, support, counseling, and access to resources that are covered for EVERYONE through our (Canadian) universal health care—if you need an abortion, they will set up the appointment you need, they will go with you to the appointment if you need support; if you need condoms they will give them to you; if you require subsidy to afford birth control they will make an appointment with one of the doctors they work with who will provide you free birth control; if you need prenatal care they will help you find a family doctor; if you need to get away from an abusive partner they will slip you information on where to go and who to call; if you need information on sexuality or STI they will provide that and even screen for STIs; they will go with you if you need someone; they will help you find a translator if you don't speak English; they run support groups.
They SUPPORT the right to choose what is best for you—parenthood if you want it, abortion if you don't, and ways to stay healthy no matter what.
The Nurse at the Planned Parenthood understood the situation I found myself in, a situation that is sadly NOT uncommon, and managed to take me aside and talk to me. She took the time to understand the bind I was in—not wanting to abort my child yet having an abusive partner who did not want me to continue my pregnancy, not having a full time job, not having income on my own, not knowing where to turn or what to do, feeling ashamed and blamed for the "situation" that "I" found myself in.
While many other women go to Planned Parenthood for assistance with abortion, I found that they were just as willing to support my choices to keep my child, offer me access to funding and programs, counseling services for abuse and transition, and legal assistance to prevent my husband from being allowed to force me to do something to my body that I didn't want (at that time). The nurse on duty had no agenda that she was touting—she was not invested in having me keep OR abort my child, she was really and truly there to support MY REPRODUCTIVE choices…
Because of the help I received from a nurse at the Planned Parenthood office I was empowered NOT to have an abortion AND to leave an abusive marriage.
I will always be grateful to the nurse in the Planned Parenthood office for taking the time to make me feel like what I wanted mattered and that I had the right to choose to KEEP my child as much as I would have to ABORT a child.
I firmly and staunchly believe in a woman's RIGHT TO CHOOSE what is best for her and to have access to resources that can impartially assist her in making the best choice for HER. Many people thought that because I chose NOT to abort my daughter that I was anti-abortion. Keeping my child was MY choice, leaving my marriage was MY choice; those were the choices that were right for ME. In another circumstance perhaps the choice that would have been RIGHT FOR ME would have been abortion. All women should be trusted and respected enough to know what is right for THEM and THEIR bodies.
This is why I support Planned Parenthood and I stand with all of the Americans fighting to keep Planned Parenthood funded and available to all people!
Read the rest of the My Planned Parenthood Carnival posts here.