Tuesday, July 19, 2011

My Planned Parenthood: A Place to Trust for a Frightened Woman

[We continue to get wonderful stories from women sharing their experiences with Planned Parenthood. If you missed the My Planned Parenthood blog carnival, hosted by this blog and Shakesville, visit the hub post here. New links have been added since the carnival officially closed. New stories and links are always welcome.

The Planned Parenthood Action Center is hosting its own blog carnival, centered around birth control access, this week. Please support them. Learn more here.]

A Place to Trust for Frightened Women

I was 22 years old, eight months into my first sexual relationship. He was 39. In most respects, the age dynamic wasn't a big part of the relationship. Except when it came to him wearing a condom. I was as adamant as any outspoken, well-educated young woman could be on the question - no condom, no sex. This all led up to an eight-month tug of war, with my boyfriend pulling harder and harder to be allowed to take it off.

Frankly, it scared me. Speaking up for my own body turned into an intimidating ordeal, even though I don't think my boyfriend realized it. Telling him was even more intimidating. It took longer than it should, but I realized that I needed to have my own back on this issue. That scared me even more.

I had moved to New Mexico for my first job out of college, away from the doctors I'd known since my first non-pediatric appointment. I had health insurance through my job, but it didn't cover much beyond emergencies. It very specifically did not cover birth control. All this meant that I had no idea where to go, and no assurance that I could afford to go anywhere.

Raised by parents I loved, but who would have been heartbroken to hear that I wasn't a virgin, I never thought I'd need to know about birth control access. There was sort of a hazy cloud of impurity over the whole idea that I was in a position to need it at all.

There was only place I could think to look, and it was Planned Parenthood.

Turns out, I needed to look no further. The single most compassionate doctor I have ever met answered my millions of questions, explained the medical mechanics of the pill slowly and carefully before I asked and when she heard I hadn't had a well-woman exam in a year, signed me up for one of those too. I'd been terrified to tell a doctor why I needed the pill, or even to explain that I was sexually active - just because there is no reason to be ashamed doesn't mean a medical professional won't judge you, or that you won't somehow feel they are justified in doing so. But judgment was one thing I didn't find in that office. Efficiency, competence and above all, access to care that I needed were things I certainly did find.

The whole thing only cost me $50.

I don't know a woman on earth who deserves any less than I received that day.

-- Emma, New Mexico


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