It is very difficult to talk about what Planned Parenthood has meant to you personally, or to talk about your sexual history, or abortion or rape. It might be the most difficult thing to talk about, in fact, and so most people don’t, which complicates the perception of there being a “kind of person” to whom those kinds of things happen. That’s why, when I watched footage of Jackie Speier on Youtube, after hearing that the House had moved to shut down Planned Parenthood’s funding, I couldn’t keep it together: she did something incredibly brave and risky. She took one for the team.
Planned Parenthood saved me and a lot of my friends during the no-health-care times (I was dropped because of a pre-existing condition. The pre-existing condition was seasonal allergies. Chew on that): HPV vaccines, birth control, and breast cancer screenings are expensive without coverage, and Planned Parenthood’s federal funding supported these programs, not abortions. In fact, it seems obvious to me at least, these preventative services are geared towards reducing unwanted pregnancies. I don’t generally feel put-upon because of my gender: for whatever reason, I don’t mind things that sometimes bother other women, like being hooted at from a car or feeling pressure to dress up my breasts; however, taking away Planned Parenthood’s federal dollars makes me feel depressed because of the complicated nature of my body’s machinery. While most men are busy spending their 20’s not worrying about their prostate very much, we’re dealing with 50%+ of the population with HPV, which in women can turn into cervical cancer without screenings and treatment, and we’re dealing with more expensive prophylactics, yearly exams and occasionally terrible situations that land us in trauma counseling or require that we make The Difficult Decision of terminating or continuing a pregnancy (I think we’re still supposed to have the right to decide, right? I mean that’s where I fear all of this is going; that’s where we all fear it’s going. If abortions are illegal, they will not cease to exist, they will just become life-endangering and scary).
I love my OBGYN and I love having health care. I took these things for granted for a while, and then suddenly the ability to go see a doctor I trusted for one ailment or another became a luxury; this should not be the case, for anyone. You should never be in a position where you’re sick or scared and have nowhere to go; for so many people, from teenagers who don’t trust their family practitioner to victims of rape or incest to people who just don’t have the money or insurance to get treatment or HIV tests or birth control pills, Planned Parenthood has been a life raft of sorts. I worry that this is the beginning of something truly terrible: removing a safety net because of a single procedure that causes so much unrest. I wonder, if we lived in a time when what Jackie Speier said didn’t open her up for aggressive hate-bombs, we might have a better understanding of the kind of woman who terminates a pregnancy (and if you think you don’t know a person who has, you’re probably mistaken), the kind of person who contracts a serious STD (again: these are your friends, these are relatives and maybe even a future you), the kind of person who has a secret that they will never tell you or anyone else except perhaps a doctor at a clinic over a cup of black coffee. Maybe you’ll never need Planned Parenthood, but I guarantee that someone you know or maybe even someone you love will, or maybe they’ll just need to know that it’s there. I have.
If you’re feeling cheeky, donate in Mike Pence’s honor. If you’re not feeling cheeky, consider donating anyway. It doesn’t mean you hate babies. It means you love people, and maybe also that you’re a fan of having sex with them.