I’m involved with Planned Parenthood for my grandma who didn’t have choices; I do it for my mom, myself, my friends, and I do it for people I don’t know. Everyone deserves to have access to expert reproductive health care.
My Grandma Betty Lou said to me, "Abortion is so important, the right to choose is so important. I’m going to support pro-choice causes no matter what because no one knows my story and I don’t know theirs. I donate to Planned Parenthood all the time."
I got health care
After growing up in a pretty rural area with the nearest Planned Parenthood 45 minutes away, it was a big deal to have a clinic just a block from my college campus. After I started to receive my reproductive health care there, they became a big part of my life.
Planned Parenthood treated me with respect and compassion and without judgment. No one likes going to the doctor, but there is a special spot in my heart when I have a Planned Parenthood appointment. I love them!
I became an advocate and educator
I learned that Planned Parenthood was committed to fighting for my right to choose and my right to have access to appropriate and affordable health care. It’s more than access to abortion or birth control — it’s about making sure that everyone can get health care that includes cancer screenings and UTI treatment, and ensuring it’s affordable and in places where people can access it.
I found my place with the reproductive justice advocates on campus. I started off volunteering with Drake University Voice of Choice. They welcomed me and supported me during a hard time in my life.
We put together trainings and fun events like Cupcakes, Condoms, and Consent for both students and visiting parents. We went to the Capitol to rally, wearing pink hats, holding signs, and chanting. We wanted to make it clear that the majority of the country supports reproductive freedom and funding for Planned Parenthood.
We also provided an educational space. Each student came from very different backgrounds and had very different ethics regarding reproductive freedom, but most of us had woefully inadequate sex education in high school. So, we’d teach and learn together.
My grandma became pro-choice as a young mom, not because she wanted an abortion, but because she wanted to have a ton of kids.
She became pregnant and was very excited. Four or five months into it, heartbreakingly, the fetus died inside her. Oftentimes, it doesn’t miscarry naturally, and you need to have a procedure to remove it, and the procedure is considered an abortion. Although the fetus had already passed, the doctors would not perform that procedure even though it was medically necessary. She could have died from septic poisoning or a whole host of other issues.
For months, she looked pregnant. She had baby showers, she had the nursery ready, people were asking her when the due date was, asking her if she was excited, etc. The whole experience was traumatizing. Only when she started to hemorrhage and miscarry did they finally perform the abortion procedure. After carrying the dead fetus for so long, her reproductive system was damaged, and she was not able to have children.
It makes me so angry that she went through that experience for so long, and that sixty years later she still talks about how she was scarred from not having any say in her reproductive health care.
That experience turned her pro-choice for life. We recently talked about the restrictions, bans and other laws that anti-choice folks are pushing for, she said, "My experience was pre-Roe v. Wade, so it wasn’t just that my doctor wasn’t listening to me, it was the law that was preventing me from getting life-saving care. We can’t go back to that day and age."
Past and future generations
She knows that there are so many people facing so many different situations, that you can’t just make one law without any kind of consideration for individual experiences. She sees the growing influence of anti-choice people pushing new restrictions and laws. She’s watching it happen to my generation and I know she’s afraid for me, for my loved ones, for my friends. She doesn’t want anyone to be put in a situation like she was.
Everyone deserves to have access to care. My definition of reproductive freedom — and I think everyone’s should be — is that you can have as many kids as you want, if and when you want them, in a safe environment with access to health care, housing, food, clean air, clean water, and more.
I’m involved with Planned Parenthood for Grandma Betty Lou who didn’t have a choice, for my mom who’s had miscarriages, for myself, for my friends, for people I don’t even know.
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