Thursday, July 7, 2011

My Planned Parenthood: A part of my life for 50 years

My parents began their involvement with Planned Parenthood of Northwestern Ohio when I was a child, so we're talking at least fifty years ago, if not more. They served on the board of directors, did fund-raising, and worked with the organization at all levels. I learned about the mission by osmosis, and in doing so, it became part of my consciousness. While the methods of family planning were still a mystery to a child of eight or so, the impression that I got from both of my parents was that women making choices about their lives and having a strong support system of caring friends and community was a formative part of my growing up. Read more of this story at Shakesville...

My Planned Parenthood: My Life's Backdrop

The first time I called Planned Parenthood, I was scheduling an appointment to get my annual exam and a birth control refill. I was about to be moving from Chicago to the Seattle area, so I called a few weeks ahead, thinking that surely my new-patient, no-insurance status would mean a longer wait. To my surprise, I was offered appointments the next day—I had to turn them down because I wasn't even in the state yet! By contrast, getting my first appointment with my current doctor, even with insurance, meant a two-month wait. Read more of this story on Shakesville...

My Planned Parenthood: Better Parents

Great Indoors and I had been dating about 3 months when the condom broke. I've wanted to be a mom for some time, but not right then, not in the situation we were in. Together GI and I made about $14,000 that year. Neither of us had any health insurance. We were on housing assistance and my parents were buying our groceries and other supplies. We simply did not have the funds or ability to care for a child, nor did we have the emotional maturity. Read more of this story at Shakesville...

My Planned Parenthood: PP was there

As we drove back to the dorms, she said they'd gone over everything. They told her about WIC and other services available to her if she decided to stay pregnant, and the services that were available if she also decided to keep the baby. They told her about closed and open adoption agencies, and what birth mothers reported as their experiences with both kinds of adoption. They told her about medical abortion and surgical abortion and when she had access to each type. And when, after all that information, she told them she wanted an abortion, they let her use their phone to make the appointment with a clinic in a neighboring community that offered those services on a sliding scale. Read more of this story on Shakesville....

My Planned Parenthood: Planned Parenthood Saved My Daughter

I found myself in the small office of the local Planned Parenthood, with my husband discussing MY options with a counselor, giving details, setting up appointments…never letting me out of his sight, never letting me discuss what I might want or need, never letting me say more than I agreed.

Instead of an unmarried teenager finding herself pregnant and unsupported by a boyfriend I was a 28 year old, well educated, married, mother of one finding herself in the position of realizing she is pregnant with a child that her husband is pressuring her to abort.

On their 5th Anniversary.

My husband tried to force me to have an abortion I didn't want. He set up appointments for me with Planned Parenthood and the abortion doctor, and made sure that he spoke for "us", never letting me have my say except to nod and agree that this was what I wanted—knowing what I would face at home later if I didn't agree to go through with his demands or if I "shamed" him in front of the nurse. Read more of this story at Shakesville...

My Planned Parenthood: I turned to PP

They never second-guessed my own decisions, when I said I wanted to be sexually active with the boyfriend but wanted to be on birth control, that was okay. When I said I was having trouble remembering my pill every day, they put me on a different birth control that wasn't a daily pill. When I had concerns about sex being painful, they discussed that honestly, instead of getting hung up on how old I was or that I wasn't married. Read more of this story on Shakesville

My Planned Parenthood: Like a Trusted Friend

That's something I've never wanted to say on this blog—that I've never had an abortion. I've never wanted to say it, because it always felt like distancing myself from people who have had abortions (and it was frankly no one else's business either way). But now it's important to acknowledge that truth as part of explaining why Planned Parenthood is so valuable to me: I would have terminated a pregnancy at virtually every point in my life thus far, and I would have gone to Planned Parenthood for the abortion. Read more of this story on Shakesville...

My Planned Parenthood: Jeremy

During my junior year of college, I had been out of the closet barely a year when I had anal sex for the first time. Before that, I lived most of my life as a conservative Catholic and only ever attended Catholic schools, and somehow picked up the notion that being a "practicing" gay essentially guaranteed God's fury via AIDS. In addition, all sex education was "no sex" and none of it was "safer sex". So, during my first encounter with anal sex, I was drunk and pressured into topping a guy I barely knew. I had one condom on me, but I didn't really know how to put it on, and ended up breaking it. Instead of not having sex, we went ahead and had unprotected sex. At first, I wrote the experience off as just one of those bad hook-ups, but upon entering my first relationship, my fear that I was infected with HIV grew to a point of obsession and my Catholic guilt was hounding me daily. After waiting 6 months, my boyfriend and I went to the local Planned Parenthood to get tested together. I chose Planned Parenthood, because I was nervous going to my family doctor (I wasn't out and was afraid of an 'information leak'), and the campus health services results weren't confidential if you were positive for HIV (they had to notify the state). In addition, it cost money that a poor college student like me didn't necessarily have the funds to pay. I thought that as a queer man, a place I grew up associating with women and abortions was the last place that would welcome me. But it was free and I needed the tests so we went. I thought I was just going to get some blood drawn, in and out. But I got so much more. As the Planned Parenthood staff member drew my blood, she asked me if there was any reason I was getting tested. I told her I had unprotected sex, and bits of how I got into that situation. After she was done drawing my blood, she took a few moments to explain to me the relative risk of HIV transmission through different sexual activities, as well as ways to reduce your risk. She gave me tips on how to properly put on a condom. She also gave me pamphlets on rape and sexual assault, and explained that even though the resources may seem heterosexual/female specific, they weren't. Also, in addition to getting tested for HIV, I was tested for other STI's as well, and even got a physician to check out my junk to make sure everything looked normal. The physician then also told me about testicular and prostate cancers, how to give myself a testicular exam, and also that I should consider getting a vaccination for HPV (which they provided), because early studies have shown that it can cause rectal cancer as well as cervical cancer. Plus, it'd be a good idea to avoid genital warts anyway. About a week later, my test results came back all negative. But I think even more importantly, I didn't have the same fear of HIV and other STI's that I did before and all thanks to the Planned Parenthood staff. They gave me a level of control and power in my own sex life, something that I completely missed out on through my childhood education. Also, as a queer man, I had never felt so comfortable talking to health professionals about sexual activity that wasn't 'normal heterosexual' activity. If it weren't for Planned Parenthood's free services, sex education, and affirming and supportive staff, I very likely could have contracted an STI by now, that would have ended up costing more money to treat than it would cost to prevent. But mostly, I thank Planned Parenthood for instilling within me a level of confidence and security that has lead to a pleasurable, healthy sex life, and not one of constant fear and anxiety.

Jeremy L., Pennsylvania

My Planned Parenthood: About the Menz

I hesitated a bit about writing this, since I'm a straight, white, cis male and always think twice and thrice before injecting my own experiences into these conversations. But I feel it's important to say that yes, even a guy like me, with my mountain of privilege, can and has benefited from Planned Parenthood.

See, when I was 20, I contracted an STI. I was/am normally very, very careful with safer sex practices, but I'd just joined a polyfidelitous commune, and was certain that everyone inside was safe, and I was in love, etc. Turns out one of the other men in the group had an interesting definition of what "safe" meant, and I woke up one morning in an awful lot of pain. Read more of this story on Shakesville...

My Planned Parenthood: For My Sister

My sister is in her twenties, underemployed, and without health insurance. She has a boyfriend with whom she practices safer sex. When her period was recently late, she bought a pregnancy test, but the results were unclear. She went to Planned Parenthood to get tested and to talk with someone. Read more of this story at Shakesville...

My Planned Parenthood: Thank you

The abortion was a long time ago. It still hurts to think about, for mixed reasons, including prior trauma and not having children afterwards. Read the rest of this story at Shakesville...

My Planned Parenthood: I Can Trust PP

I've been reading other PP Carnival stories today, and I just came to the realization that I have a story to tell after all.

Because, you see, even though I am a middle-class woman with access to a number of providers, insurance, and education, at the age of 27 years I have had only one gynecological appointment in my life—at thirteen, to obtain the aforementioned menstrual cramp diagnosis and relief. I've made many excuses to myself about this: "Oh, I'm not sexually active so I don't have to go", "I don't have time to go", "I need a referral and that's so annoying", "It'll take too long to find someone", etc., when the truth is that the idea of going simply makes me 100% uncomfortable.

I've never had close relationships with my physicians and I've never been able to discuss my reproductive health comfortably with them. I've always felt intrinsically judged, whether it was the nurse who disbelieved me when at the age of 24 in a routine exam I stated I was not sexually active, to the doctor who didn't take the side effects of my hormonal birth control very seriously (I no longer take it), to the fact that I am now sexually active and contemplating things like potentially having children, and have no idea to what qualified authority I can bring my many questions, given that they include everything from "given my family's history, how likely am I to have a high risk pregnancy" to "if I get pregnant before I want to be, what are my resources for that situation in this geographic area". Those two questions are so socially dichotomized that I can't imagine asking them of the same physician—I feel as though s/he would be left boggling at me, "Well, do you want to get pregnant or don't you?" because these questions could not possibly both be relevant to the same patient, because no patient could possibly want to make a decision about pregnancy based on information about her health and readiness as well as a desire to have a child.

That ongoing (14 years!) reluctance means I've never had a pap smear, or been evaluated for cervical cancer, or even had a basic patient history completed that could highlight risks associated with my particular reproductive system. Read the rest of this story at Shakesville...

My Planned Parenthood: The Radical Notion of Choosing Parenthood

I was born in 1956. At that time, the phrase "birth control" was younger than I am now, and "The Pill" would not be approved for contraceptive use in the United States for another four years.

During my childhood, the notion that individuals might choose the number of children they engendered was still very controversial in and of itself -- contraceptives were not available to married women in all US States until 1965 (I was age 9), and not available to unmarried women in all States until 1972 (I was 16). Roe v. Wade would not be decided for another year after that.

I've wrestled a bit with how to tell my personal story without invading my parents' privacy -- so I'll make it brief and discrete: After I was born (the fourth of four childen -- an "average" size US family in those days), my parents chose birth control.

I believe that, because of this, I grew up in a family that had better economic viability, a higher level of physical and mental health, and a better quality of life in general. Read more of this story at Shakesville...

My Planned Parenthood: Forever Grateful

When I was 19, I withdrew from college to move back home to Georgia. Due to about a hundred different stressors in my life, I was at that point extremely depressed. Soon after arriving home, I jumped into a relationship—for lack of a better term—with a man who was, in hindsight, extremely emotionally and sexually manipulative.

At the time, I thought I was in love, I was so listless I believed I needed someone to tell me who to be, how to feel, and what to do, and I certainly didn't believe anyone else would love me. I blamed my insecurities and fears on my depression, rather than the relationship, and worse, I treated the depression as a personal failing.

It didn't take long for him to convince me that men just hate to wear condoms, and we could use the pull-out method until I got a steadier job and could afford the birth control I had recently run out of. It also didn't take long for me to become pregnant. He certainly did not want a child, and I didn't either, not least because at that point I had figured out "something is wrong here," even if I didn't have the language then to understand what, exactly, was wrong with the relationship.

I researched what I could, and I decided to pay a visit to the local crisis pregnancy center, located across the street from Planned Parenthood. At the CPC, I filled out a basic introduction sheet, and among the options I was considering, I checked off "abortion." The following two hours were some of the most harrowing of my life. Read the rest of this story on Shakesville...

My Planned Parenthood: Today's Visit

I went to Planned Parenthood today. I went alone.

I am a man. I am gay. I am sexually active. I went to Planned Parenthood for an HIV test.


Read more of this story at Shakesville...

My Planned Parenthood: Thunder

Walking through Pittsburgh, I saw a Planned Parenthood. I'd never seen one before. I went inside. The reception area was tiny, the receptionist behind glass (probably bulletproof). It was so sad seeing the state that conservatives had terrorized an organization for women's health into. I told the receptionist I was so happy with what he was doing and wished him a good day.

-- Thunder, Pittsburgh

My Planned Parenthood: A Simple Story

My Planned Parenthood story is a simple one, but I imagine it is rather common. When I was in college, I had a terrible experience in my student health center on campus where a nurse slut-shamed me during my examination. After I recovered from this incident, I sought out my local Planned Parenthood to get information and to receive birth control pills. Read the rest of this story on Shakesville...

My Planned Parenthood: Ashley

My parents are anti-choice. They are conservative politically and religiously. Sex wasn't talked about in my house because I wasn't supposed to be participating in it. Well, being a teenage girl who was super-interested in boys and figuring out my sexuality, I had sex anyways. I used condoms if the boy had them, and if they didn't I had unprotected sex because I was scared to have anything in my house that my parents could find.

I was dating a boy in high school. We were sexually active. We used a condom and the condom broke. The next day after school I drove to the Planned Parenthood, totally anxious and scared and shaking. I got Plan B, and after I took it I felt so much better. My parents wouldn't know and I wouldn't be pregnant! I never would have been able to do that without Planned Parenthood. I used Planned Parenthood again when I was 23. I was dating a guy and our condom broke, so I went to Planned Parenthood for Plan B. I needed something fast and Planned Parenthood made that possible for me.

Other girls like me who come from strict, conservative families need to have access to contraception and information about sex. I live in North Carolina where they teach abstinence only. There needs to be a safe place for teens to go to really find out about safe sex and learn about contraceptive options. For all the boys and girls in America that want to have safe, protected sex, keep Planned Parenthood in business!

-- Ashley, North Carolina

My Planned Parenthood: PP Saved My Life

Like many women, I turned to Planned Parenthood for my regular well-woman check up and birth control when my previous OB-GYN retired. I didn't have the time or interest in doing the research necessary to find a new OB-GYN, so I went to Planned Parenthood because I knew that I could trust the nurse practitioners and doctors there.

During a routine well-woman exam, the nurse practitioner at Planned Parenthood of the St. Louis Region found abnormal cells on my cervix. Read more at Shakesville...

My Planned Parenthood: Tami

I was in college when I first considered becoming sexually active. Nervously, I visited a Planned Parenthood near the campus of my Iowa college. There, I received an exam and counseling about my birth control options. When I eventually had sex, I did so responsibly, protected with birth control pills and condoms.

I'm kind of proud of my younger self for the way I owned my sexuality and reproduction. Isn't this what we claim to want young women to do? Planned Parenthood made it possible for me to explore adult sexuality, while remaining safe and child free. I received regular exams, counseling and birth control at a cost I could afford (Thanks to the sliding pay scale.).

Back home in Indiana, as a college graduate, I continued to use Planned Parenthood as a healthcare provider through my early 20s, paying a little more as my career advanced. I recently began making monthly donations so that young women can continue find support and care through Planned Parenthood.

That's it.

My story is likely not the most moving or compelling you will read today. But I think maybe it's good that my story is rather...basic. Because access to healthcare, including reproductive care is a basic right. It's fundamental. Planned Parenthood provided a fundamental, quietly life altering service for me and for millions of women like me. Life altering, because my ability to preserve my health and control my reproduction has allowed me have the life I live today.
-- Tami, Indiana

More My Planned Parenthood stories

My Planned Parenthood blog carnival



We are proud to say that we stand with Planned Parenthood. Here are our stories*:


(This list represents all bloggers who have expressed interest in participating in today's carnival, hosted by Shakesville and What Tami Said. The list will be updated with direct links and blog additions throughout the day. Blogs without My Planned Parenthood stories will be deleted at noon ET.)


Shakesville (Shakesville will be running MyPP stories throughout the day.)
What Tami Said (What Tami Said will be running MyPP stories throughout the day.)
Dawn Friedman's Work
Passion for the Possible
Politics Power Sex
Quoded
The Exponent
Build Peace
Before You Go, You Should Read This...
Out of the Box
Startled Octopus
Coelestinus
Shadowplay
Anytime Yoga (Trigger warning for assault and PTSD)
Laur Abroad
The Sin City Siren (Additional post here.)
The Tired Feminist
Persephone Magazine
Women Are People Too
Kristin Anne Carideo
Merchimerch
My Life on the Z List
Susan's Musings
The Mormon Child Bride
Math Nerd

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