Thursday, February 2, 2012 / 12:14 pm
Planned Parenthood Love Letter
What they did for a teenaged me.
With the Florida primary over and no more GOP debates for almost a month (SADFACE!), we liberals have had a momentary breather to focus on other things. And judging by Twitter, that other thing this week has been the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s defunding of breast-cancer screening at Planned Parenthood. (The whole thing seems on its face to have been led by a Georgia Republican new to the Komen Foundation. The Atlantic article linked above details the whole sordid thing.)
We have all had a nice little primal scream about it online, but I would like to say what Planned Parenthood has done for me.
1989. I am 16 years old, and I have started having sex. Thanks to California’s excellent high school health classes, I am all up in birth control like everybody’s business. I use condoms every time (it’s the era of Big AIDS) but also know I need backup so I will not be a sad teen mother and can have a super awesome life.
I hitchhike from Thousand Oaks to the nearest Planned Parenthood in Agoura Hills. I get birth control pills on a sliding scale for $12 per pack.
Once, my father picks me up from my appointment, and the receptionist comes back with a freaked-out and very judgmental look on her face. “There’s a gentleman with salt and pepper hair here to pick you up,” she says in a mortician’s tone. I am confused. Then I see him. “Oh, that’s just my dad,” I explain and relief floods her face like sunshine.
I continue to get my pills from Planned Parenthood and also get some warts frozen off. (Condoms don’t protect against HPV.) Yes, I have HPV, and could eventually get ovarian cancer. I LOVE Rick Perry for mandating inoculations in girls at 12 (hopefully, this is before they start having sex, which is key in stopping its potentially deadly spread). It’s the one damn good thing he’s ever done, and the GOP fell all over their fainting couches because of it.
In my 20s, I have jobs and health insurance and private gynecologists. I send money annually to Planned Parenthood on principle, for how they helped my teenage self. In my 20s, I am still vaguely pro-life, and yet I love Planned Parenthood with my whole heart.
When I leave my job and my insurance in my 30s, it’s back to the clinic for me. In the four years since I’ve had job-based insurance, Planned Parenthood is the sole place I’ve gotten medical attention. Due to my income (which is really quite low!) they see me for free.
Possible bladder infection? A hinky kidney? The Boyle Heights clinic can see me this afternoon. While I’m there, they’ll try to sign me up for a year’s birth control. It’s okay, I tell them. I’m 38 years old. If I get pregnant, GOOD FOR ME! They don’t look like they believe me but after a couple of appalled “Are you sures” they finally stop asking. I end up taking a year’s worth of condoms just to make them feel better. I give them to my son.
I’m no longer even a little pro-life (unless you count being pro-welfare!). And I honestly think poorly of most people who are. But to me Planned Parenthood was never about abortion anyway. It was about reproductive care for poor women and girls. It kept me healthy and kept me safe.
Screw Congress. And as for Susan G. Komen, they can give their big money to whomever they’d like. In fact, I’m glad they cut off Planned Parenthood. It’s going to see a tsunami of concerned donors. And I’ll send them a hundy myself.