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Planned Parenthood – Experiences From Both Sides

August 24, 2008

Ladies, raise your hand if you’ve ever received affordable healthcare of any sort at a Planned Parenthood Clinic anywhere in the country! The vast majority of those of us with our hands up didn’t go seeking anything to do with an abortion, which may come as a surprise to those who associate the organization with abortion services and nothing else. Planned Parenthood of Ohio is trying to spread the word about the diverse range of services they offer. Allow me to share some of my experiences with PP on both sides of the reception desk after the jump.

Back when I was an undergraduate at Syracuse University, I really didn’t know where to stand on the topic of abortion. Just as I did when 11-year-old me didn’t know what to think about animals in zoos, I opted to learn more by becoming a volunteer. When you’re in college they call it being an intern, and so I signed up for 3 credits of independent study with a great prof at SU and headed over to see what I could discover. After a rigorous training I was allowed to test urine and sit in on pregnancy options counseling. Yup – straight to the meat of it! When women come in for a pregnancy test, they may also request this service in which they are offered information on STIs, pregnancy, adoption, raising a child for themselves, and also abortion. Most of the women I met came in already knowing (or heavily suspecting) that they were pregnant and with the decision for an abortion firmly made. Others made use of services for low-cost infant supplies and parenting classes, or for referrals to caring adoption agencies in the area.

I can tell you with 100% confidence and knowledge that there is absolutely NO pressuring of women when it comes to abortion. No one smiles or laughs about it in that office. No one takes the topic lightly. Every woman who enters the office has a story, a compelling story that differs from every other woman who has sat in that chair awaiting her test results. Her decision, regardless of direction, will impact her for the rest of her life, and everyone in that room knows it. Only she can know which way to go; no pregnancy options counselor I have ever met would dream of trying to push her toward an abortion.

The only pressure is time: the decision is made for you after a certain period of time.

We were, by far, the least busy part of the clinic, with most women and many couples coming for check-ups, birth control, education and related services. Oftentimes it was downright slow, which everyone agreed was a good thing. Some days I helped out with filing or carried new, donated cribs to cars. I was glad to be there every day. Even after I learned to identify pregnant urine before I tested it, always watching to see my hunch confirmed as the little lines appeared or didn’t, I felt a deep appreciation for my opportunity to learn what really goes on in places like that.

Quite frankly, lives are saved.

Women discover caring health professionals that they can afford. They learn a new level of value for themselves as they interact with staff who want nothing but the best, happiest, healthiest lives for them. They learn that there are options, and they should very carefully decide for themselves what to do, whether it is pregnancy prevention or pregnancy options counseling.

I graduated and moved out of state. It wasn’t more than a few years and I was in graduate school, living on loans in craptastic apartments in the second-worst neighborhood of Louisville. I learned to make friends with the dealers next door; it’s safest when Los is your buddy and your dog is loud. There was no money for health insurance, and the local Planned Parenthood was an easy bike ride away. Ring the bell and step inside: tranquility, quiet, caring, professionalism, safety, and amazing health care I could afford. For two years I buzzed their bell and got the hands-down best care, keeping me healthy.

I graduated again, and this time I was married. We love kids, but we also like to give them back at the end of day. Planned Parenthood of Kalamazoo was there for us. With so little money that we qualified for a low-income vasectomy grant, we were able to take responsibility for our reproductivity for the rest of our lives. A wonderful doctor that practically gives away his time there did a great job, and we couldn’t be more thankful.

For almost no money I received thousands upon thousands of dollars worth of health care at Planned Parenthoods around the country, after getting some first-class training in sexual health and well-being issues. I have never been pregnant and never had an abortion, thanks to Planned Parenthood.

I mean it. Thank you, Planned Parenthood.



Planned Parenthood has just 1 month to fight for our access to birth control and broader reproductive health care everywhere.  Learn more and support their efforts against this horrendous move by the Bush administration – here

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