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Summer intern Mariana (above, right) writes about how she found comfort in working for Planned Parenthood despite the national and local attacks on reproductive rights and healthcare.

A few weeks ago, I woke up ready for another beautiful day of protecting reproductive rights, but when I got to the Planned Parenthood office, everything was gone. The entire floor was completely destroyed – everyone’s desks were barren, the posters were ripped from the walls, the windows were shattered, the walls were falling apart. I tried calling my boss, but her phone was disconnected, and there was no one to be found. The room started spinning a hundred miles per hour, and then I woke up crying, realizing it was only a nightmare.

This is the dream I had the night after I found out the Trump-Pence administration’s gag rule forced Planned Parenthood out of Title X. I was scared. I was confused. I wasn’t sure what this would mean for Planned Parenthood and I was terrified that my nightmare would become a reality. As I got ready to go to work that day, I was anxious about what lay ahead. But when I walked through the office doors I saw that we were still here. The doors were still open. 

The day after Planned Parenthood was forced out of Title X, we had a staff meeting to talk about the situation at hand. We discussed our concerns – how we felt as employees, how we felt as patients, how we felt as people. We discussed our plan of action, and as I sat there and embraced everyone’s words, I was no longer as scared or anxious. Instead, I was ready to fight.

A lot of awful things happened this summer – the shooting in El Paso, the ICE raids in Mississippi, the wildfire in the Amazon, the People’s Veto here in Maine, and Planned Parenthood being forced out of Title X. As a first-generation immigrant and a young Latina woman, there were times this summer I was scared for my life and my safety. But, walking into Planned Parenthood every day made me feel safe again. At Planned Parenthood, we communicate and talk about issues. When something bad (or good) happens, we sit around a table and talk about it. We talk about what we can do, not only as employees, but as people. We talk about our patients and our volunteers, and how we can make them feel safe and secure. We talk about how we are feeling. We talk about how we will take action. Despite what may be going on outside the doors, there is a magic at Planned Parenthood that makes you feel safe.

One of my good friends asked me the other day, “What is it like working at Planned Parenthood when there is so much sh*t going on?” Planned Parenthood is a safe space, not only for its patients, but for its dedicated volunteers, organizers, nurses, administrators, interns, and everyone in between. Planned Parenthood is a sanctuary, waiting to take you in with open arms. We are living in such a critical moment in this country’s political history and leading the fight for reproductive rights has been an extraordinary opportunity. Working at Planned Parenthood has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I would not have had it any other way.