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Personal and maybe offensive...

Every now and then I get emails from Planned Parenthood about new laws affecting women's reproductive issues, things going on at their clinics and pleas to sign petitions or make donations.  Sometimes these newsletters include something or other that fills me with so much anger I can't hold back from venting.  I've tried, in the past, to keep those things out of my blog because I feared it would cause controversy and maybe even lose me someone from my friends list but I've reached a point in life where my opinions are my opinions and I'm not going to make apologies for them. 

So today's Planned Parenthood newsletter included a link to a blog called I am Emily X.   It's a blog written by various workers and volunteers at Planned Parenthood about the stuff they see and experience from protesters during something called "40 Days for Life" where picketers  protested outside more than 80 Planned Parenthood clinics across the country for 40 days.  People stood outside the clinics and handed out brochures and pamphlets with inaccurate information, tried to divert women to an alternate "pregnancy center" where they'd be discouraged from considering the option of abortion, some chanted rosaries, some vandalized the buildings.

I've used the services of Planned Parenthood. 

At sixteen I went in and had my first pelvic exam because I was sexually active, terrified of getting pregnant and absolutely uninterested in talking to my parents about it.  So I made an appointment for a day I had off from school, took the bus to the clinic in downtown Newark and got on the pill.  I was so afraid that they'd be judgmental, I felt awkward and scared.  The whole experience wasn't that bad.  I wasn't alone in my age in the waiting room and the chat with the counselor was okay.  She didn't really tell me anything I didn't already know, but she was easy to talk to and I think that made a world of difference.

In college, despite being on the pill,  I found myself pregnant and alone.  I was 22 and scared out of my mind and I had an abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic.  I remember thinking it was strange that I had to get buzzed into the building and sign in at a security desk before getting in the elevator.  On the correct floor, I had to get buzzed in again.  There weren't any protesters there that day, but honestly, I could have had to walk through a crowd of a thousand and it wouldn't have changed my mind at all. 

When I was first pregnant with Andy, we didn't have medical insurance and I'd read statistics that missing out o prenatal care in the early part of pregnancy could lead to premature birth, birth defects and other problems.  I wanted to hear his heartbeat and have ultrasounds and all the other parts of pregnancy that my friends were getting.  We couldn't afford to go to a private practice and pay out of pocket so Planned Parenthood was the only option.  They confirmed my pregnancy, gave me prenatal vitamins, helped me sign up for medicaid and state-assisted insurance.  I spent the first four months or so of the pregnancy using their services for my prenatal care.  I really liked the counselor who helped me through it all. 

And there were protests while I was going.  Catholic groups, complete with priests, shouting at people, blocking the driveway, holding their signs and screaming.  I wanted to roll down the window of my car and call them traitors.  They weren't dissuading anyone from having an abortion by standing there!  They were keeping women from getting to the point where they'd need one!  Most of the women I saw were just there to pick up birth control.  Because they had a midwife, there were plenty of happily pregnant women like me there to help their babies. 

I think that's the part they don't understand, that they can't move past-- yes, abortions are performed at many Planned Parenthood clinics, but it's NOT all the DO there!  They test and treat STDs, the provide birth control, they counsel on a variety of women's health issues.  But because they offer abortion as an option for an unplanned pregnancy, they're evil and need to be closed down.  I just don't get it.  I can't wrap my head around the idea of stopping so much good for a perceived evil. 

I have to wonder what goal it is that they hope to achieve by intimidating women who may or may not be in emotional crisis.  Is the goal to scare them into having a baby they don't want and can't care for?  What's better for society as a whole-- masses of neglected children or the freedom to choose when to reproduce?  I know what was the better option for ME.  So many of the most outspoken right-to-lifers are men.  White men.  I wonder what their stake is?

There are so many issues that swirl around the issue of abortion that trying to pin it down to black and white is near impossible, at least for me, but again, it's more than abortion, it's the availability of clinical services for a variety of issues. 

Really, I am so glad that PP has been there for me when I needed it and I wish I could do more as an activist to support them. 



( 5 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 2nd, 2008 08:22 pm (UTC)
I couldn't agree with your post more! Thankfully we don't have the same issues up here because of Universal health care, but when I hear of such things, it makes my blood boil. I want to just shake those protesters and make them see that what they are doing is so wrong!
Apr. 2nd, 2008 11:41 pm (UTC)
The whole issue surrounding health insurance and it's costs are just insane in the USA. Somewhere back in my blog there are two massive issues with health insurance... the first being my insurance company's refusal to add Joey to the policy because they said I didn't notify them in time of his birth. Nevermind that I had a premature baby living in the NICU for a week, what should have been my first priority was notifying the health insurance, even though federal and state law dictates that he be covered under my insurance for the first 3 months of his life... The other when I had a dental emergency and upheaval at my old office somehow resulted in me paying for coverage, but not actually being covered.

Apr. 2nd, 2008 09:22 pm (UTC)
Wow, this was a really interesting post - I felt I learned more about PP and you as well. Thank you. I don't disagree with your point at all.

LOVE seeing you at last in your avatar.
Apr. 2nd, 2008 11:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, I guess I don't often post pictures of ME in here because I'm usually the one behind the camera and not particularly happy with how I'm looking these days.

Which reminds me I have a new avatar to add to my stash.

Apr. 3rd, 2008 10:01 pm (UTC)
PP is awesome. I am sorry you have had to deal with the protesters in the past.

( 5 comments — Leave a comment )