“I credit Planned Parenthood with preserving my ability to bear children.
While still a young teacher, I called Planned Parenthood after experiencing severe pains in my low abdomen and was given an appointment the same day. A large cyst and multiple benign tumors were detected in my ovaries. Planned Parenthood connected me with a gynecologist who removed them in time to save a healthy portion of one of my ovaries.
It was enough, because years later, that same doctor delivered both my daughter and my son. I am forever grateful to Planned Parenthood for their quick action during my health emergency.”
Ash’s Story: Without Planned Parenthood I Wouldn't Be Here Today
"I was diagnosed with PCOS Endometriosis at the age of 11. I was given a 5% chance of ever becoming pregnant in my lifetime. My husband and I found myself pregnant, and I was told basically I wouldn't survive over the child if I went even half term.
So, we reached out to Planned Parenthood because we didn't have insurance, and they took care of everything. They saved my life."
Patients and Providers Say Why They Stand with Planned Parenthood
On March 1, hundreds of Planned Parenthood patients and providers from across the country traveled to Washington, DC and shared their personal stories with their members of Congress. Their Hill meetings highlighted the devastating consequences that “defunding” Planned Parenthood would create for their communities.
Tayanna’s Message to Politicians: Having your body legislated against is a very powerless feeling
"The message I would give to my politicians is, I understand that some people don't understand what it feels like to have your body legislated, but it is a very powerless feeling, and I don't think that's what our country truly represents.
So my message to them would be, before you make policies to be political, why don't you think about the actual people who it's going to impact.
And also ever woman is different and every woman's body is different and you cannot give us blanket legislation thinking we're all going to experience the world the same way."
“Without a resource like Planned Parenthood, I probably wouldn’t be alive. I wouldn’t have known about my cancer until it was too late. They caught it early.
When people talk about Planned Parenthood, they seem to only mention abortion. I was not there to get an abortion. I have never been pregnant. I was a patient because that is what I could afford for such things as birth control, and yearly health checkups. I can’t imagine what will happen to the state of women’s health in this country if the defunded goes through. How many will we unnecessarily lose because people can’t see the big picture?
“I remember my first time in [Planned Parenthood], the practitioner asked me about my partners — phrasing it in a way that was not presumptive of heteronormativity. It allowed me to be open, and that practitioner became the first person I came out to as queer. It was an accepting environment where I was comfortable to get the care I need.”
Jen: The Day I Told My Members of Congress Why I Stand With Planned Parenthood
"I’m really overwhelmed that there’s so many people out there who need access to this kind of health care. Just to be able to come up here and share that with people is an amazing experience. To stand alongside these senators who will fight for us, who will fight for us to have health care, who will fight for us just to be healthy — it’s really empowering to know that we’re not alone and that we have people standing with us, on our side, standing with Planned Parenthood.
This fight isn’t over. We’re going to stick with it, and we’re going to fight to make sure that it’s a human right to have health care that’s accessible and affordable for everybody. "
Faith Leaders’ Message to Anti-Abortion Politicians: “Stop Playing Politics with Women’s Bodies!”
"We give thanks for the compassionate health care that they provide. It is our belief that Planned Parenthood does sacred work.
And we know that this is what it means to love our neighbors: to provide them with health care. For the millions of patients who depend on their clinics for access to reproductive health care, family planning, and sexuality education, Planned Parenthood helps create healthier communities that are more just and more equitable."
Sign our Letter to Congress:
Tell these extremists you're a part of the overwhelming majority that opposes defunding care at Planned Parenthood health centers. Tell them you're ready to fight like hell to protect reproductive health and rights in his country. Tell them you stand with Planned Parenthood.
A Grateful Mom: thanks Planned Parenthood for her son
After finding herself unexpectedly pregnant, Adeline was conflicted when she turned to Planned Parenthood for a safe and legal abortion.
There, she found compassionate care and was given the time and space to think about her pregnancy options. She ended up continuing the pregnancy—resulting in the birth of her beloved son. "I'm so glad that I went to Planned Parenthood that day."
A Veteran Clinician: Proud American and Planned Parenthood nurse
Sally served her country in Iraq for 7 years. Now she's a staff clinician for Planned Parenthood, where beside her dedicated colleagues, she works to provide high-quality health care to women, men, and young people. "That camaraderie between brothers and sisters in the military seems very familiar in a Planned Parenthood setting."
When I was 18, I decided to visit a Planned Parenthood health center, and my provider there confirmed that indeed I was suffering from endometriosis. It was the first time I was taken seriously
When I was a teenager, I experienced unbearable menstrual pain. My health care provider at the time said I was too young to have endometriosis, and told me that what I was experiencing was normal. But I knew something was seriously wrong. When I was 18, I decided to visit a Planned Parenthood health center, and my provider there confirmed that indeed I was suffering from endometriosis. It was the first time I was taken seriously. The provider was really concerned about my welfare and how I was doing and that just made me feel great. It made all the difference in the world. The lesions were removed, and Planned Parenthood provided me with Depo-Provera to manage my condition.
No-copay birth control is an essential tool helping women like me with endometriosis who otherwise would have to live with chronic pain. But endometriosis sometimes can affect fertility, and it was unclear if I would be able to have children. Today I am a 37-year-old mother of an adorable little girl. Motherhood has been the singularly most amazing thing in my life. My daughter is truly a gift, and I really have Planned Parenthood to thank for her.
Several years ago, when I was 23, I found a lump in my breast. With my family history I was quite concerned. I made an appointment at Planned Parenthood.
I am a big supporter of Planned Parenthood for so many reasons, mostly because they offer a great place for people of all backgrounds to get the health care they need. My family history has a lot of cancer. My grandmother passed away when she was 32 of uterine cancer, when my dad was only 13. My great-grandmother has survived breast cancer twice! Needless to say, I try to stay on top of my screenings to keep myself safe. I have been a patient of my local Planned Parenthood in Fayetteville for three years now. I have an amazing nurse practitioner who is always available to me and makes me so comfortable.
Several years ago, when I was 23, I found a lump in my breast. With my family history I was quite concerned. I made an appointment at Planned Parenthood. The nurse practitioner found the lump and arranged for my first mammogram. I had a biopsy and had the lump removed; it came back negative. Planned Parenthood even put me in contact with a group to help me pay for the procedure. Normally it would have cost $1200, but I paid approximately $200, which was all I could afford. I was working three jobs and paying off student loans. Money was tight. If it weren’t for Planned Parenthood, I would not have been able to get the procedure and keep myself healthy. Thank you, Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood made health care accessible and affordable when I was a poor college student. Planned Parenthood understands that reproductive health is a human right that needs protection.
Lyudmila Y., Utah
All three of my healthy children received caring and professional prenatal care at Planned Parenthood.
Erica N., Wisconsin
We need to give teens information because whether some folks like it or not, teens have sex and it’s so important that they know how to protect themselves and get access to sexual health services.
I choose Planned Parenthood as my sexual and reproductive health provider because it’s a nonjudgmental space. It is filled with doctors and staff members who really care. I was raised by two immigrant parents who were busy ensuring that my sister and I had food on the table, went to school, and stayed safe.
They didn’t have the tools to explain to us about safe sex and birth control and sexual health. But my sister and I knew that we had to keep ourselves safe, so we turned to Planned Parenthood for education. I knew I could get correct information from Planned Parenthood, and then I shared that information with my friends. A lot of parents and adults believe that keeping information about sexual health from teens is protecting them, but it’s actually hurting them. We need to give teens information because whether some folks like it or not, teens have sex and it’s so important that they know how to protect themselves and get access to sexual health services.
Planned Parenthood has really cracked the code with reaching out to young people. When a young person talks to his or her peers and provides them with information that could save their lives, it builds trust and creates a safety net. It creates a culture where young people feel empowered, and most importantly, a culture where young people are aware of their options and have the ability to make their own decisions. I saw this happen firsthand in high school through my time as a peer sexual health educator with Planned Parenthood. Once I got to college, I began to transition from education work with Planned Parenthood into advocacy work. I had the opportunity to be on a council called Youth Rising. We focused primarily on underrepresented communities within our own hometowns. Serving on this council provided me with tools to create real change and provide information and access to reproductive health care to women, folks of color and young people. It reminded me of the importance of grassroots social change.
I was 33 years old when I felt two lumps during my monthly self-exam. I immediately called my gynecologist at Planned Parenthood in Brooklyn, New York.
I was 33 years old when I felt two lumps during my monthly self-exam. I immediately called my gynecologist at Planned Parenthood in Brooklyn, New York. She did an exam, agreed that something suspicious was in my breast tissue, and gave me a referral for a mammogram — my first one ever — of my left breast. I had an ultrasound that same day and a biopsy two days later. After a long week of anticipation, the results came back positive: I had breast cancer.
My diagnosis came as a complete shock. In a matter of two weeks, my whole life changed. I was so young, and no one in my family had ever been diagnosed before. I was told that my cancer was in stage 1 but that it in terms of aggressiveness, it was Grade 3. I underwent a mastectomy of my left breast, along with having a tissue expander put in place to allow for reconstruction of the breast at a later time. This was followed by five years of tamoxifen (hormone) treatment. I have currently passed the five-year survival rate, and the cancer is in complete remission. African American women like myself have the highest incidence of breast cancer among women under the age of 45. A lot of women worry that something doesn’t feel normal, but they don’t go to a health care provider to check it out because they’re afraid they will hear something negative, or because they don’t have the financial resources. They should know about Planned Parenthood, which offers affordable breast exams (and other preventive services) with a serving of care and compassion.
Natarsha, New York
No one had ever taught me about condoms and the need for safer sex, so I didn’t have the tools to protect myself. Thankfully, the case worker at Planned Parenthood gave me a lot of support ...
I’m a Cleveland native and a fashion designer. I’m also a 23-year-old black gay man who is HIV-positive. A certified HIV counselor, I speak with high school students about my own health story and about the need for safer sex. When I was 16, I joined a friend who was going to a Planned Parenthood appointment. While I was in the waiting room, I noticed that the health center was offering free STD testing, so I decided to get tested. Turns out that I was HIV-positive. You might be wondering how someone so young could have HIV. In fact, many young people are sexually active, and a good number of them do not practice safer sex. No one had ever taught me about condoms and the need for safer sex, so I didn’t have the tools to protect myself. Thankfully, the case worker at Planned Parenthood gave me a lot of support as I progressed from diagnosis to treatment at the Cleveland Clinic. When I first received my diagnosis, I had trouble processing the information. I wasn’t sure what my life would be like, and I didn’t talk about it with anyone. I built up a wall. But then I realized that for people of color in particular, it’s essential to talk about HIV and the need to use condoms: our communities are being hit hard by this epidemic. That’s when I started going to high schools to break down the stigma of HIV. I always conclude my presentation by telling students to go to their nearest Planned Parenthood health center to ask questions, get condoms and, if they’re having sex, to get tested. I also always have condoms in my bag to give to students if they need them. I’ve incorporated my passion for breaking down the stigma of HIV and AIDS into my work as a fashion designer. In 2010 and again in 2011, I was involved in the Condom Couture fashion show coordinated by Planned Parenthood of Greater Ohio. I enjoyed coming up with a creative way to use fashion to tell a story about sexual health. The money raised at the Condom Couture shows went to provide health care, including STD testing, to those who need it.
My life is better because of my decision. I got to finish high school, and I became a certified nurse assistant.
When I was 16, my mother died of ovarian cancer, and I had to become a mother figure for my little sister. I was the one who had to take responsibility for taking care of her, and it was daunting. Then, at age 17, I became pregnant. I went to Planned Parenthood, and the staff confirmed my pregnancy. They took care of me and explained all of the different options that were available: I could carry the pregnancy to term and keep the baby; I could give up the baby for adoption; or I could have an abortion. I decided to terminate the pregnancy because it was the best option for me at the time.
Planned Parenthood helped me get funding for the procedure. It was a difficult decision, but I already was a parent to my sister, and I couldn’t financially or emotionally provide for another child. I also wanted to finish high school, and my boyfriend was not in a place to be able to raise a child. My life is better because of my decision. I got to finish high school, and I became a certified nurse assistant. Six years ago, I became pregnant again — but this time, I was financially stable and emotionally ready to become a parent. This time, my choice was to keep the pregnancy.
Today, I’m a proud parent of a little boy and successfully pursuing my career. It’s important that abortion remain safe and legal for women.
Chris has endometriosis and every three months, she goes into a Planned Parenthood health center and gets a Depo-Provera shot.
Chris is 29 years old. She works hard — she makes about $35,000 a year. She also has endometriosis. Every three months, she goes into a Planned Parenthood health center and gets a Depo-Provera shot. Even with a shot, she still experiences daily pain, but without it, she wouldn’t be able to function, go to work, or even tolerate the symptoms of endometriosis. She cannot afford surgery, but fortunately, Planned Parenthood has always been there to help. Chris says, “If you take away Planned Parenthood, my only option is to either take out medical loans to take care of what I need to take care of, file bankruptcy when I couldn’t pay them, suffer and file disability.”
Because I was able to get preventive care, including birth control, I was able to fulfill my life goals: to graduate college and become a mother.
When I attended community college, I worked two minimum-wage jobs — yet still was financially strapped and unable to afford health insurance. One day as I was walking down the hall, I saw a flyer that said that Planned Parenthood was opening a health center. I visited the new, conveniently located center — and the rest is history.
Because I was able to get preventive care, including birth control, I was able to fulfill my life goals: to graduate college and become a mother. Access to birth control is absolutely critical for women because if we don’t have it, we can’t move ahead in life — we can’t plan for our education and we can’t plan to have children when we can afford to raise them. As a Latina, I am acutely aware that cultural barriers exist in the Latino community that can pose an obstacle to accessing health care. It’s important for Latinos to have access to birth control because when you can choose when and how you have children, you can raise up your family, and when you raise up your family you raise up your community. Because I could take charge of my life with affordable birth control, I was able to transfer out of community college to UCLA. Ten days after graduation, I gave birth to my son. I then went on to graduate school at Harvard and a political career in Washington, DC, on Capitol Hill.
Share Your Story
Whether it's affordable birth control or the right to safe and legal abortion, tell us why these services matter to you. Your story will help show everyone just what we're fighting for in the weeks and months to come.
I would not have been able to afford birth control, which I needed for a medical reason, without Planned Parenthood.
I would not have been able to afford birth control, which I needed for a medical reason, without Planned Parenthood. I was grateful to have an adult who validated what was happening in my life and who treated me with respect.
I was nervous the first time I went to Planned Parenthood for an appointment. I was 16, and the only doctor I’d ever been to was my pediatrician — but this time I needed a reproductive health care provider to discuss my unusually painful, heavy, and long periods. They were so severe that I would even pass out at school. Everyone at Planned Parenthood was so helpful and knowledgeable.
There was no judgment at all. I was grateful to have an adult who listened to me and validated what was happening in my life and who treated me with respect. To control my periods, my Planned Parenthood provider recommended that I try the birth control pill. I experienced side effects, so then my provider recommended the Depo-Provera shot. Once again, I experienced side effects. Therefore, when I learned about the IUD at age 18, I asked if I could be eligible — and was thrilled that I was. Unfortunately, my insurance did not cover the IUD, and this was before the Affordable Care Act, with its no-copay birth control benefit, was in place. Without Planned Parenthood I would not have been able to afford birth control. That’s why it’s so important to have birth control without copays — so that women don’t face another barrier in accessing the care they need.
Planned Parenthood is where I went, scared and alone when I was 14 years old to find out if I was pregnant. Planned Parenthood tested and counseled me about my options.
I’m a teen mom. Sure, I may be a 25-year-old married woman now, but I will always be a teen mom. My daughter was born when I was barely 15, so I know what the meaning of choice is. I chose life for my own reasons, but that doesn’t mean I’m not happy to live in a society where I could have chosen to abort if I felt I needed to. Planned Parenthood is where I went, scared and alone when I was 14 years old to find out if I was pregnant. Planned Parenthood tested and counseled me about my options. Not just abortion, but about where to seek adoption options if I chose, and encouraged me to begin a prenatal health regimen. Insufficient prenatal health care is one of the leading causes of health problems for teen mothers and their children. They either don’t know that they are really pregnant, because they don’t know where to get tested (and can’t afford an over-the-counter test) or once tested they come from such impoverished areas that prenatal care is unheard of. No matter what your opinion about abortion may be, keep in mind that Planned Parenthood is the security net for women who need counseling, birth control, and pregnancy tests. My daughter is a successful, happy ten-year-old. She gets straight A’s and has no health issues. I’m not sure I could say that if Planned Parenthood hadn’t told me I needed to obtain prenatal care. I want to know that if the day comes that my own daughter is scared and feeling alone, there is a support net for her too.
I wouldn’t know where to go to get contraception or STD screenings if there wasn’t a Planned Parenthood in my community.
Planned Parenthood helped me get long-term birth control, Implanon, before my husband and I lost our insurance coverage. Without insurance, I would have paid more than $50.00 a month for my birth control prescription. I paid a total of $70.00 to get a device that will last for 3 years. The Planned Parenthood clinician talked through all my contraceptive options and we decided together that a long-term hormone birth control would be the best method for me. Planned Parenthood staffers have always been pleasant and professional during my appointments, and they always had my best interest at heart and in mind! The very same day, I took my sister, who does not have health insurance, to an appointment at Planned Parenthood to get an STD screening. Because she is a low-income student, her visit and tests were covered completely by Title X. Knowing your STD status protects you from developing serious complications from STDs you may have and helps protect your future partners. I wouldn’t know where to go to get contraception or STD screenings if there wasn’t a Planned Parenthood in my community.
Sinda said that when she sees protesters outside Planned Parenthood facilities, it’s hard for her to hold her tongue: I’m thinking . . ."They may be able to afford private medical services, but others may not. "
Sinda started coming to Planned Parenthood for her birth control when she was a teenager growing up in Detroit. As an adult, when she was laid off from work and did not have health insurance, Sinda visited the Ann Arbor health center for a routine exam. The nurse noticed that her neck was swollen and had her tested for thyroid disorder. It turned out that Sinda had hyperthyroidism that, if left untreated, could lead to heart failure. When Sinda’s 21-year-old daughter turned 17, she brought her to Planned Parenthood for her first ob-gyn exam. Sinda said that when she sees protesters outside Planned Parenthood facilities, it’s hard for her to hold her tongue: “I’m thinking, ‘Everybody deserves services,’” she said. “They may be able to afford private medical services, but others may not. Shouldn’t everyone have a place to go?”
I’m 62, and way past my reproductive years, but I still use Planned Parenthood health centers for my checkups.
I’m 62, and way past my reproductive years, but I still use Planned Parenthood health centers for my checkups. My husband is disabled, and gets Medicare, but I have no affordable options except for Planned Parenthood health centers. There is so much more to Planned Parenthood than just a place for safe, affordable reproductive issues. I believe this aspect of Planned Parenthood needs a little highlighting also, that Planned Parenthood is there for ALL women with all sorts of women’s health issues. Thank you for the chance to share my story.
“Like many young people, I didn’t prioritize health care, didn’t really know what the ACA was and was daunted by the entire process of enrolling. When I went into Planned Parenthood, it was quick and easy..."
After a scary medical emergency, one and a half years of being uninsured, and lots of nagging from her mother, Eleni decided to finally sign up for health insurance. She wasn’t sure where to start, so she reached out to Planned Parenthood and scheduled a meeting with one of our health insurance experts who helped her find the right plan for her budget. The first thing she plans to do with her new coverage is head to Planned Parenthood for a fully covered checkup, and take advantage of the free preventive care benefit of the Affordable Care Act to get an IUD. “Like many young people, I didn’t prioritize health care, didn’t really know what the ACA was and was daunted by the entire process of enrolling. When I went into Planned Parenthood, it was quick and easy, and I was told that I’ll qualify for significant help paying — so I could afford it.”
Eleni, New York
They have stood up for me in my darkest hour, and now it is my turn to do the same.
Planned Parenthood saves lives. As a single 22-year-old, I had just moved across the country when I learned that my Stage 1 cervical cancer had returned. I had a LEEP procedure done at the local hospital and hoped for the best. A week after my procedure, I lost my job, my insurance, and any follow-up care. I started feeling ill and having stabbing pains. The pain was so bad, I attempted to admit myself to the ER, only to be turned away with no insurance and no way to pay. I called Planned Parenthood and their doctor saw me immediately and recognized the hard truth that my surgery had been done incorrectly, and the hospital had sealed my cervix shut. She called the hospital and advocated for me when I needed someone in my corner. A year later, I took a job as a case manager for mentally ill folks in my community. Planned Parenthood continued to help me and all of my clients who could not afford gynecological care or birth control. This was the only place where I knew, regardless of my client’s diagnosis, they would be treated with love, respect, and dignity. I cannot imagine what I would have done without Planned Parenthood. They have stood up for me in my darkest hour, and now it is my turn to do the same.
Jennifer, North Carolina
Planned Parenthood is the main reason why I'm alive today.
In April of 2013, my annual mammogram came back suspicious. I was referred for additional screening. Further testing was done and the radiologist concluded everything was fine. Not long after, my family lost our private health insurance. A few months later while I was undressing after working out, I felt something in my breast. Figuring it couldn't be a coincidence or a hernia, I knew that I needed to get it looked at right away. Unfortunately, there are very few screening options in the Dallas area for women like me without health insurance or the ability to pay directly. Of the handful of clinics that accepted patients like me, I did not meet the qualifications of three of them because of my background or where I live. Of the two that said I qualified for treatment, one was out of funding and hoping it would be restored at the start of the new year. The other was booked at least eight weeks out.
Thankfully, they suggested Planned Parenthood. Not only were they able to see me immediately but they offered the financial assistance I needed to get the diagnostic testing done immediately. Vivian, my guardian nurse, literally saved my life. She worked tirelessly to make sure a grant — which the Texas Legislature later disqualified Planned Parenthood patients from receiving — would cover the costs of the diagnostic tests required.
Vivian called me just about every day to make sure that I was being scheduled for the proper tests quickly and that the costs would be covered. When word came back that I had invasive lobular carcinoma — or as my surgeon refers to it, "a tricky form" of breast cancer — Vivian and Planned Parenthood helped me fill out the applications for funds that would allow me to begin treatment. Planned Parenthood is the main reason why I'm alive today. She went above and beyond, understanding that access to timely care is a human right that should be available to all women.
With or without insurance, I always know I can go to Planned Parenthood if I need help, regardless of what happens in the Capitol. Planned Parenthood was pivotal in my life and in helping me care for my daughter and achieve my goals.
After Hurricane Katrina devastated her hometown of New Orleans in 2005, Cristina moved to San Antonio. She discovered at a Planned Parenthood health center in 2007 that she was pregnant. Planned Parenthood helped her, a single mother, enroll in Medicaid, and later for other health coverage. Cristina says that the nurses she saw at Planned Parenthood were always very friendly and helpful; they always remembered her name and her daughter’s name and what she was studying in school. “With or without insurance, I always know I can go to Planned Parenthood if I need help, regardless of what happens in the Capitol. Planned Parenthood was pivotal in my life and in helping me care for my daughter and achieve my goals. They provided me the resources to stay healthy and gave me a safe haven where I could get the care I needed. I want my daughter to have the same choices I’ve had. I want to know she will have access to affordable, quality care and the ability to make her own medical decisions. After shredding the health care safety net for low-income and uninsured women in 2011, it’s outrageous that far-right politicians are working to virtually ban access to safe, legal medical care in Texas.” Because of a pre-existing ovarian condition, Cristina is unable to use many forms of birth control. She has spoken about the fact that she relies on Depo-Provera, and that Planned Parenthood has been supportive of her medical needs.
Planned Parenthood came through for me when no other health care provider could.
I had been on the pill since I was 18, but I don’t tolerate hormones very well, and I was getting migraines. So I wanted to switch to the copper IUD, which is also a good form of birth control since you don’t have to remember to take a pill every day. My health insurance costs were going up on January 1, 2015, so I needed to make the appointment in December 2014. The only health care provider that was able to fit me into their schedule was Planned Parenthood. I went in for the insertion, which was totally covered; I had no copay. If I hadn’t had access to Planned Parenthood, I would not have been able to afford the IUD. I’m a law student on student loans. I would have to take the pill, which was exacerbating my migraines. Having a hormone free reliable form of birth control is best for me. Planned Parenthood came through for me when no other health care provider could.
Already struggling with the idea of a very unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, I was beyond shocked when my doctor informed me I was already eight weeks and three days pregnant.
I’ve been on the pill for most of my adult life, and I’ve always had irregular menstruation, routinely going three or four months without a period. That’s why I didn’t worry when I missed a period last fall. It wasn’t until I began to suffer extreme nausea and fatigue that I began to think something was wrong. A home pregnancy test on a Thursday night led to phone calls Friday morning and then a quickly scheduled doctor’s appointment for Monday. Already struggling with the idea of a very unplanned and unwanted pregnancy, I was beyond shocked when my doctor informed me I was already eight weeks and three days pregnant. Abortion wasn’t an automatic choice for me, but it was one I was strongly considering, and the method I preferred — drug-induced abortion — can’t be performed after nine weeks. I had only days to consider my choices. My doctor and nurse were supportive and informative, and I felt relieved to be in their care. But after leaving to do some of the required paperwork, the nurse quickly returned and sat down with me, holding my hand as she told me that, as a federal employee enrolled in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program, my health-care coverage is barred by Congress from paying for abortion services except in cases of rape or incest or when the life of the woman is in danger. If I wanted to terminate my pregnancy, I was on my own. So I ran out of my doctor’s office to call Planned Parenthood before its appointment line shut down for the day, despite not yet knowing whether I was going to choose an abortion. My ability to make my own decision was rapidly diminishing. I wanted to preserve all my options. By the time of my appointment, two days later, I knew what I wanted to do. After a long morning of exams and conversations, I had an abortion. The procedure cost around $480, due immediately. I am fortunate: I was able to pay for the abortion without affecting my ability to honor other financial commitments. But not that long ago, I couldn’t have managed that, and I fear for the women who can neither afford the procedure nor wait for their next payday to take action. The clinic I went to was only minutes from both my house and my workplace, so I didn’t have to find a way to pay for last-minute travel expenses.
Loren, Oregon (Originally published in the Washington Post)
We know that young people are sexually active — it’s a fact. And so we need to make sure they are equipped with the right tools to make healthy decisions.
I had great sex education in my school in the eleventh grade, but I thought that was sort of late to start introducing young people to resources that they need to make sexually healthy decisions. So I lobbied my school’s administration to start sex education in the ninth grade. After a lot of advocacy work, my school did create an education program for ninth-graders on sexually transmitted infections, including HIV. But it wasn’t enough. I also thought that everyone should have access to contraception.
So I turned to Planned Parenthood and picked up condoms, which I distributed to my classmates. People started calling me “Condom Queen.” I was a source of knowledge about sexual health for my peers. Planned Parenthood was really supportive of what I was doing. They gave me the knowledge and the resources to be able to empower myself and also empower other young people.
When I got to my college campus, I started a chapter of Students for Choice, which is part of the Planned Parenthood Generation Action network. I was still passionate about condom distribution, and I thought it would be helpful to have condoms available in the vending machines in residential halls — that way, students could get condoms 24/7. After speaking with the administration and the residential hall advisors, we were able to increase the variety of what was available.
Carly, New York
Every day I look at my three beautiful children I am thankful for Planned Parenthood.
At the age of 22 I moved to a large city far from home. When I started feeling a mass growing in my abdomen, the only place where I knew I could quickly, easily, and affordably access health care was Planned Parenthood. They correctly diagnosed an ovarian tumor and ensured that I got the treatment I needed as quickly as possible. As a result, the doctors were able to save my other ovary. Every day I look at my three beautiful children I am thankful for Planned Parenthood.
When I was 17, I was homeless; I had not finished high school and was hitchhiking the Pacific coast. When I realized I was pregnant, I reached out to a Christian organization for help.
Too often, we lecture teens about pregnancy prevention — but don’t give them the information they need to make decisions that are best for them. I should know: I was a teen mom myself. My daughter, now 16, is central in my life. Nevertheless, 16 years ago I would have benefitted from information about my sexuality and reproductive rights, including my right to an abortion. Because information was withheld from me, I did not make informed decisions, which spilled over into every aspect of my life. When I was 17, I was homeless; I had not finished high school and was hitchhiking the Pacific coast. When I realized I was pregnant, I reached out to a Christian organization for help. They brought me to a crisis pregnancy center — an office deceptively branded to look like a reproductive health center that offers no health care, only anti-abortion and anti-birth control messages and materials. I was deceived because I had thought I would get practical help, but they did not help me at all. They did not give me any real, useful information. All they did was run a blood test, listen to the heartbeat, and say congratulations. They didn’t even provide any prenatal care. I was scared and confused, and didn’t know what to do. It was my first experience with reproductive health care, or what I had thought was reproductive health care, and it was horrible. I was on my own. Because the crisis pregnancy center manipulated me — as they do every day to a vulnerable population of women in poverty with low incomes and lack of sex education — I came away with the lesson that my choices had no importance. The choice to have my daughter was taken from me, so clearly it didn’t matter what I wanted or even that there were alternatives I was permitted to want. In fact, my experience with the crisis pregnancy center damaged me so much that it took me years to get to the point where I could advocate for my own health and also for that of my daughter. I didn’t realize that this was something I was allowed to do. Several years later, when I was in my early twenties, I learned about Planned Parenthood and went to their Spokane health center for STD testing. What a huge difference. They gave me information and treated me with respect. It was eye-opening to me. I realized: If I had known about Planned Parenthood back when I’d been 17, everything would have been different. I would have been told that abortion was an option. I love my daughter dearly and have no regrets about bearing and raising her. But I deserved to have been informed. If I had gone to Planned Parenthood and been told that I could choose among abortion, adoption, and keeping the pregnancy, it would have changed the entire experience. Even if I had ended up making the same decision to keep the pregnancy, my life would have been transformed because it would have been my decision. I wish I could go back to my teenage self and say to my partners back then: Hold on; we need to talk about this; we need to protect ourselves. But I didn’t know that I could do that — that I could stand up for myself. I’ve taken my daughter to a sex education class at Planned Parenthood. We went together, and I learned new information too. I learned that having open conversations with your child is essential — so that your child can have ownership over his or her choices and outcomes. This has been revolutionary to me. My daughter tells me that she doesn’t want to have sex right now, that she doesn’t want to be a parent right now. It’s not the outcomes of her decisions that are so wonderful but the fact that she has made them on her own.