When I started needing birth control in college I chose Planned Parenthood because it was nearby, it was affordable and I figured they knew what they were doing – they deal with sexual health all day long, right? I didn’t go to Planned Parenthood to make a political statement. I just needed contraception.
At Planned Parenthood clinics, I’ve always felt comfortable asking questions. Every doctor, nurse, and staff member has been really gracious in answering each question – no eye-rolling or rushing to the next patient. Every time I go to the clinic for birth control, (or, more than once – an ingrown hair I was convinced was herpes) I feel listened to and respected. They are genuinely engaged and present, with a total sense of patience and support. Having experienced the opposite of Planned Parenthood’s judgement free and supportive environment from other, non-Planned Parenthood sexual health providers, I am grateful and relieved to be able to access Planned Parenthood’s services.
In addition to the inclusive, expertly trained health care I receive from the clinics, Planned Parenthood extends its reach beyond my physical health; it supports my total wellbeing as their patient. Planned Parenthood knows that our health is impacted by almost everything we do as humans, including the relationships we engage in. A few years ago, I remember getting exams at the Uptown clinic while I was in a really bad relationship. Every time I went, I would find myself reading a poster they had on the wall of the exam room that highlighted abusive behaviors in relationships – emotional manipulation, jealousy, blame, etc. In that exam room, I realized I was taking care of myself physically but I wasn’t taking care of myself emotionally by continuing this relationship. It began the process of understanding and ending the intensely unhealthy relationship I found myself in. It was only a poster, but it helped me connect health with healthy relationships. It showed me Planned Parenthood’s belief that holistic care for their patients means more than a yearly exam. This broadened view of their work further defines Planned Parenthood as a key actor in the direct work against systemic, gender based discrimination, violence and oppression here in America.
Planned Parenthood’s commitment to addressing their patients’ total well-being became even more clear to me when I sought health services from them after being raped. Because of that tricky rape culture we have in American society, I, at first, didn’t understand it was sexual assault. I blamed myself. I was really destroyed by it emotionally and was visibly upset at the appointment. I remember the nurse asking me caring questions - trying to help me think about it more. The Planned Parenthood employees were the first people to help me consider what had truly happened to me. Planned Parenthood’s commitment to me - my whole self - catalyzed my commitment to them and the work they do.
I cannot say the same for Congress right now. The fact that our government officials are drawing up policy and voting against the sexual health and well-being of so many Americans is the ultimate example of gender-based discrimination and oppression. Trying to keep millions of people from accessing this life-giving and life-saving care – whether it’s birth control or care after a sexual assault – is unacceptable. Politicians shouldn’t be able to tell me that I can’t go to Planned Parenthood for my care. I don’t know where I would be now if Planned Parenthood hadn’t been there for my mind, body, and soul. No politician should be able to take that away from me, or anyone else.