We at House of Gilda are extraordinarily dismayed at the House’s decision to defund Planned Parenthood, an organization that provides safe, affordable healthcare to millions of Americans. The people who oppose Planned Parenthood have been egregiously misinformed and manipulated.
We want to provide you with real stories from real Americans who value Planned Parenthood and the services they provided when no one else would.
I got birth control and basic woman’s care at Planned Parenthood when I was unemployed and then in a temp job without benefits, when my partner and I were engaged/living together but not married. They helped us plan our family when our family was very young.
I got free care from Planned Parenthood (including a pap smear, treatment for cervical warts, and birth control) when I was 17 after our family doctor reported to my parents that I had asked about birth control during my annual physical. This was in 1983. A few years later I had a miscarriage and my aftercare was handled through the Planned Parenthood in my area because I didn’t have health insurance. I learned how to do breast exams at Planned Parenthood, too. My parents never taught or talked about any of this stuff and neither did our family doctor. In 1991 I had my first desired pregnancy confirmed at Planned Parenthood.
I used to be in the Planned Parenthood speakers’ bureau, and worked with a Planned Parenthood employee to train me on the sex education talks I gave in middle schools and high schools. My trainer was amazing – she taught me how to talk about anything related to sex without embarrassment. I allowed students to ask questions anonymously to avoid embarrassment and created a safe space for kids to ask all the questions they would never ask out loud. It was a tremendous experience, and none of it would have been possible without my Planned Parenthood trainer.
When I found out I was pregnant in 2011, I was faced with the most difficult and painful decision a woman can make. I knew in my heart that abortion was the right choice for me, a choice I wouldn’t (and don’t) regret. In the panic of a positive pregnancy test, I did the only thing I knew to do — I called Planned Parenthood. They booked me for their next available Saturday appointment. State law required that I participate in a specific conference call for an absurdly long list of possible impacts and ramifications, as well as child support laws. No call? No abortion. They had an orderly procession for each patient to go through and many women waited. I first went for an ultrasound, then counseling on how to take the medication, and finally to meet with the doctor who gave me the first pill and explained how I was supposed to finish the process the next day at home. I had so much information about the procedure I felt prepared for what was to come next. It was a tremendously painful experience and it took me a few days to recover. But, as the pain subsided, I found new relief. I had saved myself. Getting an abortion in Texas wasn’t exactly a walk in the park then but it’s worse now. I’ve since learned that the wonderful, reliable surgical center which took such good care of me no longer provides abortions because of new restrictions added in 2014. They provide referrals and I can only hope there are still affordable options for everyone.
My wife was pregnant with our second child and we were over the moon. We couldn’t wait to give our daughter a little sibling. Ten weeks into her pregnancy, my wife woke up in the middle of the night in extreme pain and we were heartbroken to learn that she had miscarried. We went to Planned Parenthood for her treatment where they prepared us for what was coming next. My wife and I got through the other side of this extremely painful loss in large part due to the information and care we received at Planned Parenthood. We went back to Planned Parenthood for prenatal care when my wife got pregnant again two years later, and now our daughter has a healthy baby brother.
I used to work in a gallery in the same building as Planned Parenthood. I biked to work, so the safest place to lock my bike would be in the protected, gated off, security-camera-filled, guard-posted parking lot in the back of Planned Parenthood. I’d walk through their reception to get to the gallery. One day, I was sitting in the front steps waiting for my boss, who was late, to open shop. A woman approached me, handed me a rosary, and told me that Jesus loved my baby. I was really baffled – and until that point I hadn’t understood why Planned Parenthood had such a secure parking lot – this woman just assumed I was pregnant, assumed I wanted an abortion, assumed that I wouldn’t think Jesus loved my would-be baby, and hoped that His love for a make-believe clump of cells in my uterus would make me turn away at such a late stage: the steps of the clinic. Her words hurt me. In her meek, demure delivery, she hit me with so much harsh judgement, I felt guilty for even sitting on those steps. I can’t even imagine what potential patients at Planned Parenthood have to endure, even if they are getting something as simple as free condoms or an STD screening.
I was in school, still in my teens, when the person I was dating gave me an STI. I was far from home, scared, and went to Planned Parenthood to get a diagnosis and treatment. There is so much stigma around having contracted an STI, even when it is 100% treatable, but especially when it is not. I was devastated, and the staff at Planned Parenthood treated me with such compassion and gave me resources to put my new reality into perspective. At one of the lowest points in my life, Planned Parenthood was there.
When I had no health insurance, I relied on Planned Parenthood for yearly wellness exams and reliable access to birth control that I couldn’t have otherwise afforded. Every experience I had with Planned Parenthood clinics in two states was wonderful. Last month I was diagnosed with a life-threatening deep vein thrombosis (DVT) in my left leg, for which my hormone birth control pills were deemed partly responsible. I had to stop pills immediately and have switched my birth control method to a non-hormone IUD. I am very lucky to have health insurance right now (for the time being), or the cost of care for detecting and treating the DVT and for switching to the IUD would have broken me. Even though I did not get treatment from them this time, these developments have made me more grateful than ever for the services Planned Parenthood provides for women who don’t have the options I had. I am grateful to Planned Parenthood for supporting the CHOICE of women like me to be in control of our own bodies. My experiences also demonstrate that yes, women do have serious, specific healthcare needs and we need access to providers who specialize in women’s health and whose services are affordable. I stand with Planned Parenthood.
I grew up in fairly conservative, rural America, in a town where churches outnumbered grocery stores. My sex education in public schools was nonexistent; they preached abstinence-only and showed us gruesome pictures of genitals disfigured by sexually transmitted diseases. At age 16, I told my parents I was sexually active. My mother freaked out. She searched my entire bedroom, confronting me about the condoms and lube she found, and forced me to shred all of my thong-type underwear, which I had secretly hoarded in a box in my closet because I wasn’t allowed to wear them. I knew I could never, ever tell my parents I was having sex, ever again. One of my friends, who had parents with similar ideas about sex as mine, had recently gone to Planned Parenthood and gotten on a state-funded program to get free birth control. She walked out of the clinic with a year’s supply, which during the school year she kept hidden in her locker so her parents wouldn’t find it. They gave her everything – brochures with information on everything from how to put on a condom to why you shouldn’t douche, three boxes of emergency contraception, an STI test, and handfuls and handfuls of free condoms. When I decided I wanted to go on birth control, I first asked my parents about it. We had health insurance. My parents refused. I felt bad for “leeching” off of state money when I had health insurance, but since there was no way I could convince my parents to let me use birth control, I decided to sign up for the same program. I used library computers to go on Planned Parenthood’s website to learn about the different types of birth control, and when I finally went to a clinic, the nurse was kind, non-judgemental, and informative. They were discreet, packing the pills into a brown paper bag, and saying “doctor’s office” instead of “Planned Parenthood” whenever they called my parents’ house. People love to cite the fact that Planned Parenthood is the biggest abortion provider in the U.S. Well, because of their services, I never needed an abortion. Because I had access to their sex education and birth control as a teenager, I never got pregnant in high school, and went on to get a college degree.
For these people and millions more Americans, Planned Parenthood was there when they needed healthcare of all kinds. Every one of us deserves access to safe, affordable health care with professionals who will treat you with dignity and respect. It is unconscionable to deny services for millions because you personally oppose a perfectly safe, medically necessary and legal healthcare procedure. Enough is enough.