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While in college, Lydia, a student from Edina, conducted a research project on Planned Parenthood. As she scrolled through search engine results to use as resources, she found countless websites providing false information about Planned Parenthood without any cited sources. The experience opened her eyes to how easily misinformation can spread online. She realized “you have to be able to fact-check, to think critically about what you’re learning on the internet.” She was unsatisfied not having the facts, so to learn more, she signed up to volunteer at Planned Parenthood.

Lydia’s first experience with Planned Parenthood got off to a shaky start. She and a friend had just pulled in for volunteer training when someone approached their car. “It was so cold out and I couldn’t think as to why someone else would be out there, and they handed us this pamphlet.” Lydia assumed it was an employee helping people with parking information but, when she opened the pamphlet, she realized they had encountered a protester handing out anti-Planned Parenthood flyers. “We were both like, ‘he tricked us!’ And I could totally see how that could make someone really upset—it’s fear-mongering.”

Once in training, she felt at ease. She noticed the diversity of people who wanted to support Planned Parenthood. “Not all of them were women—there was a pastor there…he said, ‘I have disagreements with certain things Planned Parenthood does but, overall this is an organization that needs to be here.’”  Lydia was inspired how people of different socioeconomic, ethnic, and social backgrounds all met together to support Planned Parenthood’s commitment to delivering accessible care.

Lydia quickly realized she’d come to the right place to find the answers to her questions, and volunteering affirmed for her the importance of social responsibility. Impressed by Planned Parenthood’s services, she recommended them to many friends, ultimately becoming a patient herself. “I found out if you have insurance you can still come here—that’s money that will go to Planned Parenthood. So I feel like coming in and being a patient here, it’s like giving your patronage to a business that you care about.” Volunteering for phone banks increased her awareness of her power as a voter. “I think it would be easier for me to be apathetic about being a voter if I didn’t care so much about protecting reproductive rights and reproductive freedoms and health care.” Now, Lydia feels she’s finally found the factual information she was looking for, which has given her the confidence to fight for reproductive health.

Tags: minnesota, story

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