As some of you know, I’m a patient at Planned Parenthood. I have been, on and off, throughout all of my sexually active life. I originally started going there when I became pregnant as a teenager. My younger years didn’t include much of a sex education, much less how to protect myself. So I learned rather quickly about pregnancy tests and missed periods before I learned about different kinds of birth control available to me.
When I figured out I was pregnant, at the urging of a girlfriend a went to a local community clinic. (Let me preface this, while I’m militantly pro-choice, I’m personally pro-life. I walked into that community clinic knowing that I didn’t want an abortion. I most likely wanted an adoption to take place if I couldn’t raise this child on my own.)
Before I even took a pregnancy test there, I was handed anti-abortion literature. It was complete with pictures of dismembered fetuses and warnings of infertility and breast cancer. (I also didn’t know the REAL statistics on either.) When I was asked what I was choosing BEFORE being given my results or any information beyond the anti-abortion pamphlets, I realized where I had walked into. I knew not to say anything about abortion, so I went with adoption. The last thing teenaged me wanted was to be smacked in the face with more fetuses.
After being informed that I was pregnant, I was then told that if I picked adoption, that they could help me find a Good Christian Family. Then I was given (what I now know are false) statistics on child abuse in families outside of their networks. I promptly gathered my bag and left.
One of my other girlfriends asked me to go to Planned Parenthood instead. There are two clinics by me. One is further away in Chicago, the other over the border in Wisconsin. I got a ride up there and had a walk in consult. There I was not judged, I was given information about all of my options. I learned the real statistics on abortion, I learned that there were many different choices for adoption agencies, and I learned about all of the resources available to me throughout my pregnancy and if I chose to raise a child.
They weren’t pushy, they let me make my own decisions and then referred me to an obgyn closer to me. Long story short, I had a healthy pregnancy, and I gave my son to a wonderful family after he was born. It was one of the simultaneously hardest yet most rewarding process as of yet.
After the birth of my son, I didn’t have health insurance. So continuing to see my doctor wasn’t really an option for me. So I went back to Planned Parenthood and asked about my birth control options. For a couple of years I continued to go to Planned Parenthood for my birthcontrol as well as my annual exams since they are the easiest office to get into when you’re paying cash.
Now to current day. I have the high-risk strain of HPV, and I have for a while now. My immune system is funky, so I have a hard time clearing the virus. I had a LEEP procedure last year to remove pre-cancerous cells, and it was time for my follow up pap. I do not have traditional health insurance anymore, and my regular gyne is hard to get in if you’re paying cash. So I booked an appointment online for my pap smear, and headed into the office today.
As always the staff were absolutely wonderful! If you didn’t know, April is FREE STD testing, so if you haven’t been tested in a while, or have an oppsie, now’s the time to head in and get tested! Anyway, I had my exam, they’re requesting my records from my previous gynecologist (no leg work on my part!!) and I’ll get the results from the pap in a couple of weeks and know if there’s anything else I need to do.
As I was waiting for the consultant to calculate my fee, I was reading the sign on the wall regarding threats of violence and bomb threats. Essentially instructions for how the staff should handle either. I thought to myself, I’m lucky. I’ve only dealt with protesters here once.
Something to note: this Planned Parenthood clinic does NOT provide abortions. In fact, many don’t. They can direct you to places, including offices not affiliated with Planned Parenthood, if you need an abortion, but this location does not provide abortions. Just regular old healthcare. Hell the lady before me was coming in for information on her first mammogram.
This Planned Parenthood is particularly important because the area it’s in is lower income. It also serves a broad area around it, hence why I drive 40 minutes to that clinic. This is a clinic where girls and women can get check ups, screenings for cancer, as well as birthcontrol and referrals to other doctors. This clinic caters to those without insurance, as well as those below the poverty line. This is not strictly a clinic that hands out abortions. This is a clinic that HELPS the community. (Hey WI, how is your teen pregnancy rates coming along?)
Yet, as I go to leave, before I hit that door, I noticed a heavy set white male with a sign out front. (9.9/10 times they’re always white males) I couldn’t see the sign from my perspective, yet as anyone knows, the Planned Parenthood protesters can get out of hand really quickly. I’d like to think that I did more than think about taking a swing at him, but I didn’t. I ducked out the door to my car and prepared to be called a whore. Thankfully he was too busy yelling at cars to even notice me, so I tried to snap a picture of him from my car, but as you can tell.. it didn’t turn out too well. His sign read, in really shitty writing, “God save her babby!”
As I drove my way back home, I became enraged. This asshole is posted up outside of a healthcare clinic, with his stupid sign, protesting me, 2 other girls getting paps, and one asking questions about mammograms. I’m literally at the clinic to be screened for a cancer that thanks to a virus I’m predisposed to, and this fucker is protesting it. This male, who doesn’t even have a uterus, is posted up, scaring women who are just trying to receive sometimes life saving healthcare.
I wish I had had the gumption to tell him off to his face, yet I was hyper aware of how badly that situation could have spiraled. So as I was thinking about this, I reminded myself yet again, about how fucking STUPID it is, that I have to worry about protestors to get my damned cervix swabbed. Not only that, but a protestor who was protesting what went on in the other sexes’ bodies.
As some states try to pass barbaric abortion laws (read the book Red Clocks by Lemi Zumas, it’s relevant) and old white men try and tell women how to medically treat our own bodies, while funding is pulled from these clinics, it’s the women that suffer. It’s us that lose even MORE access to not only safe abortions, but basic healthcare. It’s absolutely unacceptable.
The irony of it all, which boots me in the face every single time, is that the majority of what Planned Parenthood does is try to PREVENT abortions and unwanted pregnancies. They try and pick up the slack that parents and school systems leave by not explaining birth control methods and safe sex. Pro-Life advocates should be FUNDING Planned Parenthood so they can continue getting out into the community handing out condoms, plan b and letting women and girls know they have options to AVOID becoming pregnant.
Unwanted pregnancies and abortions will NEVER go away. If abortion is outlawed, whether by a certain week or all together, they will still happen. Only they will happen illegally and sometimes unsafely. Instead of trying to prevent abortions from being needed, people in this country try to outlaw them yet at the same time make it harder to get birthcontrol and making abstinence only education more prevalent. If you can’t see the problem with the previous statement, then I consider you a lost cause.
In the meantime, I will continue to frequent my Planned Parenthood, I will continue to hand out pins and stickers I get from there. I will continue to tell girls and women to go there for their needs. I will continue to vote for politicians that back them and women’s rights.
Most importantly, I will sit and wonder about how this adamantly pro-life people will handle it when one of their female family members wants or NEEDS an abortion.