Why The War Against Planned Parenthood Needs To Come To An End
The first time I walked into a Planned Parenthood, I was 15 years old. My best friend at the time came to school crying because she believed that she was pregnant. She had asked me to go with her to the Planned Parenthood in downtown Trenton because it was the only place she could get free testing without having to concoct a lie to get her insurance cards from her parents. I was a little scared and hesitant because up to that point, I had only known Planned Parenthood to be an abortion clinic and a place for low-income families in my city. We left school early, which meant that we cut a few classes. I went with her to the clinic, and as we walked, I was so afraid because I was sure we were going to get caught by my mother, and I didn’t want her to think I was pregnant, let alone sexually active.
When I got there, my friend took her test, which came back positive. And while I helped her cope with that life-changing news, I also found myself looking around, impressed by all the health care resources Planned Parenthood offered to women. I remember leaving thinking, This is like a real doctor’s office after all. It wasn’t impersonal. In fact, they were an additional emotional support to my friend and helped her a lot throughout her process as she made decisions.
The second time I went to a Planned Parenthood, it was also with a friend. This friend was afraid to tell her parents that she was thinking about having sex. She wanted to get birth control but didn’t want her mom to know. Long story short, I went with her to get the contraception she needed.
After thinking back on both of those experiences and forward to the research I’ve done on my own, I realize that if I knew then what I know now about Planned Parenthood, I could have been getting a lot more care and had access to more resources while I was in college.
With all the conspiracy theories floating around about Planned Parenthood, its founder Margaret Sanger (and whether or not she started the clinic to control the Black population as Ben Carson would claim), and right-wingers claiming they sell fetal tissue of aborted babies (which Planned Parenthood vehemently denies), it’s time to take a step back. I think it’s time to acknowledge what the clinics provide for women like you and me–and it’s a lot more than abortions.
They are a haven in our communities and have offered health treatments and resources to millions of women and families without health insurance, way before Obamacare. How many of you have found yourself in need of birth control and couldn’t afford it anywhere else? How many of you have found yourself needing some general health care, but found no healthcare provider who offered free care? How many of you just wanted to get tested or see a gynecologist to address an issue? No, Planned Parenthood isn’t just an abortion clinic. It offers general health care as well as flu vaccinations, physicals, and screenings.
And Planned Parenthood doesn’t just offer care to women and children. Men can also schedule check-ups, get tested, get screened for diseases and also receive consultations and help for infertility. Planned Parenthood has also become a catalyst for change in young women through their workshops on body image, sexual identity for those who are questioning or need guidance, and for those looking to build healthy relationships.
So while some choose to focus on the negative image painted of Planned Parenthood by its detractors, those fighting to have funding cut, think about all the families who have benefited from this organization in the nearly 100 years they’ve operated. Think about them. And then think about all those who would be impacted without such services. Planned Parenthood may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but whether or not people want to admit it, the clinics have done a lot of good for a lot of people.