Stephanie Clement is a Planned Parenthood patient, a mother, a leader – and a veteran. She credits birth control with giving her control over her future and making it possible for her to serve in the military. This is her story.
When I first went to Planned Parenthood I was 18 and I had just moved out on my own. I moved to California with my cousin and I found a job with an insurance company. This older woman at my job, who was like a mentor to me, asked me if I was on birth control. She told me that I have my whole life ahead of me and I should see a doctor. She also said, “if you’re not trying to get pregnant you need to talk to someone to know what your options are.”
At the time I could not go to the doctor because my benefits have not started yet. I was broke. I was making 10 dollars an hour and California is very expensive. It’s hard when you’re that young and you have your own bills. The copay alone was expensive. My coworker gave me an address to a clinic and I had no idea what this place was.
Turns out, it was a Planned Parenthood health clinic. They were really nice to me and asked me a few questions. I told them that I was dating someone new and I needed birth control. They were really helpful and started me on the depo shot. I tried it for 9 months.
Even when my benefits started, I continued to go back to Planned Parenthood. I still had to pay copays at other places and I was comfortable with doctor at Planned Parenthood. They didn’t make anything awkward. It was a very comfortable experience. I didn’t have to wait. They were quick and efficient. That’s where I got my well women’s exam and the depo shot. I was very happy with them at the time. Since I was not used to going to the doctor by myself, I was grateful that I can go to a place that wasn’t going to judge me.
Being on birth control was important to me. I was not ready to have kids. People should be able to have that option if they want it. For me it is especially important now that I have four kids. I have a IUD and I don’t want any more kids. The fact that I have control of my body is really important. Since there’s no birth control for men, it ends up being our responsibility. If it is our responsibility then we should be able to have access to it.
I didn’t have kids until I was out of the military. I was fighting in a war and I was married at the time. I didn’t want to be deployed away from my kids. I saw the pain that happens when you are deployed away from the family. I did not want my kids to go through that. Being in the military gave me the opportunity to gain more responsibility. It helped me to adapt to different situations, personalities, and people. It gave me hard work ethic, sense of responsibility, and selfless servitude. That helped me in my life afterwards because I still hold those values.
My experience in the military shaped the person that I am. If I had gotten pregnant while serving, I would have probably have gotten out. I was the first female in my family to serve in the military. I didn’t have that type of support that would help me be able to have a child while being deployed and gone for a month at a time. Even though I was married, my husband was in the military as well. I really would not have been able to function if I had a child while I was serving.
Birth control helped me be more in control of my future.
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