WHY I STAND BY PLANNED PARENTHOOD

I was sixteen and in love for the first time.

After months of heated groping, my high school boyfriend and I wanted to go all the way. If there was anything I was sure about at sixteen, it was that I had no desire to be a high school mom. That meant birth control. That meant the most effective birth control I could imagine, something so effective it seemed made of unicorn tears and elf magic, forged in the fires of Mordor, and brought to me on the back of an armored Griffin who also happened to know a lot about prophylactics. That meant the Holy Hand Grenade: The Pill.

But getting my teenaged hands on The Pill felt like a fantastical quest of Tolkien-like proportions: Where? How? With what magical aid?

Growing up in a small, conservative, Texas town, my options for sex education were limited. I sure as hell couldn’t go to my family doctor who’d been bandaging my boo-boos since I was ten. And while I had fairly liberal parents, my mother’s moral messaging about premarital sex had always been quite clear: You only have sex with your husband. Anything else is a sin. There was no way I could ask her about any of this. Plus, I’d had to quit my afterschool job due to track and cheerleading duties. I had no money. Even if I could find birth control, how could I possibly afford it?

There was only one place I could turn to for help: Planned Parenthood.

On a summer Saturday, I lied to my mother about going to the movies with my best friend and drove instead to Planned Parenthood, which was located, ironically, next to our town’s only Catholic church. I was nervous about being seen. Slut-shaming has been a thing since the dawn of time, and I feel reasonably sure that some of the first cave drawings were the equivalent of “Yo, Cro-Magnon Woman is Easy, Y’all!” beside a sketch of roaming buffalo and a large, squirting penis. This is what it is to walk around female—to feel always that your body is not quite your own. That it belongs to a system that alternately wants to desire and objectify it, to harm it, and to blame and shame it for being so desirable and objectified that it thus causes the state of wanting to harm, blame, and shame it. Lather, rinse, repeat. After driving around the block several times, I finally pulled into the lot, parked my car behind the cover of a dumpster, and went in.

Here’s what happened: A very nice lady welcomed me and explained that, in order to obtain birth control without parental consent, I would need a proper sex education course. This was not a drive-through; this was an five hours’ worth of classes. Nervously, I said “okay,” and signed the consent form.

That afternoon, I sat with a handful of other young women as we watched films about our bodies and how those bodies worked. I’m pretty sure we saw a film on birth, too, and I’m pretty sure I equated it to “Alien,” my only frame of reference then, and thought, “Oh, HELL’S no. Not up for that yet.” A nurse gave a seminar about reproduction, pregnancy, preventing pregnancy, STDs, and the various methods of birth control available to us, listing the pros and cons of each. I was given a full gynecological exam to make sure I was healthy, and I was informed of what this exam entailed and why. The nurse was gentle, informative, and reassuring. Then, I sat with another nurse who explained how my birth control pills worked, stressing the importance of taking them every day, letting me know that it would take a full month and another menstrual cycle before they were fully “operational.” There, in the privacy of her office, I could ask all sorts of questions without shame, questions about birth control, my body, and sex. Again, without shame or judgment, I could have those questions answered knowledgeably. I didn’t have to rely on sketchy second-hand information from a teen friend of a friend whose cousin’s older sister swore that if you douched with vinegar right after sex, you couldn’t get pregnant. (Spoiler alert: That’s bananas. Also, your lady parts will smell like an Olive Garden salad. Just sayin’.)

When I left, with five months’ worth of birth control pills in a brown bag, I was relieved and empowered. I felt like an adult—like a woman driving her own body for the first time. The choice was mine and mine alone. I was responsible for my choice and my body, and I liked that very much. I had gone in like a young Frodo and left like Gandalf. Boo-ya, bitches.

In the end, the choice I made was not to have sex. I wasn’t ready yet. And, in a way, those hours spent in the company of those wise women at Planned Parenthood helped me to understand that I wasn’t ready. I remain grateful for the invaluable information Planned Parenthood provided me as a young woman in need of answers about something as fundamental as her own body.

Today, and all days, I stand with Planned Parenthood. I stand FOR women’s health—for the health of ALL women, especially low-income and young women. I stand FOR women being able to be educated about their bodies, and their sexual and reproductive choices, in private, without fear of being shamed or traumatized or physically assaulted outside a clinic. But I especially stand for the idea of women owning their bodies. Of not being denied the choices that fall to men by default.

I stand with Planned Parenthood because, once upon a time when I needed it very much, they stood by me.

340 thoughts on “WHY I STAND BY PLANNED PARENTHOOD

  1. Pingback: WHY I STAND BY PLANNED PARENTHOOD | zooglit.com

  2. In college I walked into a free clinic with my girlfriend. Because the clinic in a Catholic Church required girls to bring boyfriends along to prove they were having sex. Later I was the stand-in boyfriend for girls whose real boyfriends were afraid of been seen the clinic. I never thought of being afraid.

  3. Thank you for sharing this personal story. I truly wish I had knowledge that I could access to this information, and access to it in general when I was a teenager. It’s amazing how many young women are denied comprehensive sexual education about our own bodies. Planned Parenthood is an amazing organization that only helps women, not hinders. If only everyone could understand this. People who have never felt scared, unsure, or confused about their own bodies would never understand the importance of organizations like Planned Parenthood, and the value a comprehensive sexual education has for young women.
    Thank you for your story!

    • The House Republicans, as part of their on going attempt to defund Planned Parenthood, recently grilled to the bone, Ms. Cecile Richards, President of Planned Parenthood. Planned Parenthood is a wonderful, non-profit, health organization, a gift to women from the two women who founded it. It would have been good if the investigation committee were told about the great work of Planned Parenthood by some of the women who were helped by the Federation over the years.

  4. Hola! me encanto como termino tu historia, fue lo mejor que pudiste haber hecho y estoy de acuerdo con tu mama sobre que eso se debe hacer después del matrimonio, es muy lindo que compartas lo que te sucedió y así se den cuenta mas chavas de que no estamos preparadas tan jóvenes para tener relaciones ya que muchas no buscan algún centro sino en internet. Es muy importante que se de la educación sexual a los jóvenes para que tomen conciencia y así evitar que muchas niñas queden embarazadas así como la transmisión de enfermedades sexuales.
    Cada persona es dueño de su cuerpo y es necesario que no las obliguen a hacer cosas con el y que uno tenga educación necesaria para poder cuidarlo.

  5. Hey, that was a good little read! Planned Parenthood is definitely important. I live in Utah and our sexual education is to just shove abstinence down our throats therefore we don’t get the need information on contraceptives. That’s where Planned Parenthood steps and helps educate and protect young people. I also feel that women need to have the right to be in control of their own bodies, and politics should keep its ugly head out of it; unless of course it’s to actually get some laws passed to educate them on it. Also if any of you don’t mind, feel free to give me a follow! My blog is still very new so there’s only a few posts. But I make sure to put new content up every day! https://rossj781.wordpress.com/

  6. Well said. It’s mans World where a woman’s body is either a sexual object designed to look the ‘perfect’ way by men or it’s to be used as an incubator when society deems you the right age to reproduce. Lord forbid you have children too young or too old. Girls need to be taught to love and respect their bodies. The pressure to look and act a certain wAy is intense. Perhaps if there were more strong women teaching others to be in control of their own bodies things would be on more of an even keel. Then again the last thing men need is women in control. The fact that women face these barriers to birth control says it all really.

  7. Yep. I can definitely relate to this just like so many other people. PP was there when I needed birth control and condoms as a teen. They were there when my HS boyfriend cheated on me and I needed an STD check. They were there for me in college when I forgot to take my birth control pills and needed Plan B. And they were there when I got a nasty yeast infection that just wouldn’t go away. The doctor even called me a few days after my appointment just to see how I was doing. Amazing organization. Thanks for sharing your story!

  8. That is fine and dandy that PP gives out birth control. What about the women who DO walk in the facility pregnant? Did you know that Based on Planned Parenthood’s most recent annual report, an unborn baby dies every 96 seconds inside a Planned Parenthood clinic? What about the fact that According to their latest annual report (2013-2014), Planned Parenthood reports that their affiliates performed 327,166 abortions – that’s more than 30% of the estimated 1.058 million abortions performed annually in the United States. And let’s not even get into the facts on selling babies – YES BABIES- body parts . To make my point a little more understandable here is a scenario : a man gives a little girl a piece of candy ( how sweet ) but then goes and kills 20 children in a daycare. Not good… Right ? Well that’s the same concept . The lives lost and illegal acts committed are much greater than the few packs of birth control given out. We have crisis centers that do a far greater job on educating . Crisis centers have amazing women who will support you if an unplanned pregnancy occurs. They provide items like diapers, clothing, wipes, maternity clothes
    and other essentials. These women also help you find an adoption agency if a woman does not want to keep her child. These compassionate women are open and guide you every step of your pregnancy. The world needs more pregnancy crisis centers today !

    • Hey youniquejacqueline, did you know that you are a troll? Are you aware that you’ve neglected to read the comments where we have already debunked your christian agenda?

      Planned parenthood protects this: “The right to abortion is part of every woman’s right to control her reproductive choices and her own life. We must reject all efforts to coerce women’s reproductive decisions. The goals of reproductive rights activists must encompass the right to have children as well as the right not to.”

      You are advocating for the legal RAPE of women:
      “Abolition of a woman’s right to abortion, when and if she wants it, amounts to compulsory maternity: a form of rape by the State.” ~Edward Abbey, One Life at a Time, Please (1988).

      This is your real agenda:
      “The preservation of life seems to be rather a slogan than a genuine goal of the anti-abortion forces: what they want is control. Control over behavior: power over women. Women in the anti-choice movement want to share in male power over women, and do so by denying their own womanhood, their own rights and responsibilities.”
      ~Ursula K. Le Guin, Dancing at the Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places (1997).

      Here is the truth: “in society as a whole the patriarchal mythology of what “a woman” does persists almost unexamined, and shapes the lives of women. “What are you going to do when you get out of school?” “Oh, well, just like any other woman, I guess I want a home and family” – and that’s fine, but what is this home and family just like other women’s? Dad at work, mom home, two kids eating apple pie? This family, which our media and now our government declare to be normal and impose as normative, this nuclear family now accounts for seven percent of the arrangements women live in in America. Ninety-three percent of women don’t live that way. They don’t do that. Many wouldn’t if you gave it to them with bells on. Those who want that, who believe it’s their one true destiny – what’s their chance of achieving it? They’re on the road to Heartbreak House. But the only alternative offered by the patriarchal mythology is that of the Failed Woman – the old maid, the barren woman, the castrating bitch, the frigid wife, the lezzie, the libber, the Unfeminine, so beloved of misogynists both male and female.” (~Ursula K. Le Guin https://serendip.brynmawr.edu/sci_cult/leguin/ address at the 1986 Bryn Mawr College Commencement. It was first published in a collection of essays, Dancing At The Edge of the World: Thoughts on Words, Women, Places, New York: Harper & Row, 1989 (147-160).

      Here is how you are using language label and dehumanize women to justify your extreme acts against women and turn yourself in to a hero:

      “We are always told that violent anti-choicers are a mere fringe. Obviously, few anti-choicers commit murder or arson. But, as the Matthew Shepard case reminds us, extreme vocabulary creates a climate of moral permission for extreme acts. This is a movement whose main spokespeople, many of them mantled in clerical or political authority, regularly use words like ‘baby killers’, ‘murder’, ‘holocaust’, and ‘Nazis’, thus legitimizing just about anything. After all, the conspirators who tried to assassinate Hitler are heroes.
      Katha Pollitt, “Subject to Debate” column in The Nation (November 16, 1998), reprinted in 2001.

      Here’s what women need to know and that I will be telling them to counter your hate speech aginst women.

      Young women need to know that abortion rights and abortion access are not presents bestowed or retracted by powerful men (or women) — Presidents, Supreme Court justices, legislators, lobbyists — but freedoms won, as freedom always is, by people struggling on their own behalf.
      Katha Pollitt, “Subject to Debate” column in The Nation (May 1, 2000)reprinted in 2001.

      You have the right not to have an abortion. I will defend your right NOT to, but leave my womb alone.

    • i disagree, i was left in an orphanage as a child, i never got adopted .it was hell bouncing around from foster to foster, the abuse and indignities i suffered i wish on nobody . i outgrew the system and managed to make a life for myself , so dont ASSume adoption is so darn perfect , i honestly would have rather been aborted than to have been traumatized the way i. was .

  9. Pingback: C is for Choice (defining the goals of Reproductive Rights Activists) | Girl Power Academy

  10. Pingback: (Reblog) WHY I STAND BY PLANNED PARENTHOOD | Posh P

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