Saturday, April 09, 2011

I Stand with Planned Parenthood

I hadn't been in a Planned Parenthood in years. Almost 20 to be exact.

Ever since I had access to services, first, through student health and, then, through all manner of employers who've always seen fit to offer good health care, I hadn't needed Planned Parenthood.

Back in the day though - my late teens - I needed Planned Parenthood and the services offered at affordable out-of-pocket prices for women without health insurance. Primarily, I obtained birth control from them. But they also took care of my annual exams and my STD screenings. Once, they even provided me with a pregnancy test (that's a negative *whew*).

It was because of their affordable care that I found out I had moderate cervical dysplasia - pretty scary to hear "precancerous condition" at age 18 - and subsequently found myself particularly interested in my lady bit health. 4 colposcopies, 2 cryosurgeries, and 2 electrocauterization procedures later, my cervical health for the last 17 years has been just fine and dandy, thank you. Wait. No. Thank YOU, Planned Parenthood.

But I hadn't given much thought to them and what they do in quite some time.

Oh sure. I'd occasionally send them a donation and, when they launched a campaign against Sarah Palin during the 2008 presidential election season, I laughed and sent them my $5 to have them mail a card to her in my name. But, other than that, they were kinda off my radar.

And then, the threat of a government shut down happened, in part, because of a Republican-sponsored rider attached to the budget legislation that would de-fund Planned Parenthood.


And I got pissed. You know, because it's what I do when I find out the anti-choicers are trying to whittle away at the rights of women by slipping in through the back door when the front door's locked and barricaded. Grrr.

As it happens, I was due for my semi-annual screenings - you know, those tests every responsible, sexually active single lady should take (please tell me you're taking them and, if you're not, go get them done. Don't worry. I'll wait.) - and because of a random fluke with my primary care physician (or sudden lack thereof), I was faced with navigating through a sticky ball o' red tape just to get some routine blood/urine work done.

So I made a choice.

I called Planned Parenthood and made an appointment for yesterday afternoon knowing I would be paying out of pocket for something my health insurance would cover - no small decision when yours truly is still working on her own debt reduction - but also knowing I was doing my own small part to show my support for an organization that not only does a lot of good for women AND men generally but who did right by me way back when.

I was clearly - by far - the oldest person in the building.

The waiting room was packed at 4 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. I was one of the few with, for once, no anxiety about why I was there. I was also one of the few who'd made an appointment. Even though I had to wait almost 45 minutes past my appointment time, I didn't mind. I waited patiently. I observed. I wondered what some of these young women would have done without affordable access to birth control. What would they have done without affordable, confidential, safe access to STD testing.

What would I have done if Planned Parenthood - my only option - hadn't been an option?

So, while I waited, I made a donation. And I signed up to volunteer.

And then I got my blood drawn, gave them my pee, laughed with the staff about how with age comes experience, I paid my bill, and then I walked away feeling good about an afternoon and money well spent.

Photo taken from Feminists for Choice

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