54 Women Tell Us Why They Stand With Planned Parenthood

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I’m ashamed to say that I didn’t fully appreciate just how awesome Planned Parenthood was until I was faced with not having it. No, I’m not talking about this recent BS threat from Republicans to defund the organization. I’m talking about the time that I lived in Buenos Aires and I got a text from the guy I was dating saying that he had tested positive for gonorrhea. Cue heart drop. Cue panic. Cue frantic searching in broken Spanish for a clinic, only to discover that there aren’t any for STI testing for women — or people in general — in Buenos Aires.

Luckily for me, I lived with an awesome, bilingual Argentine who happened to have a friend who worked at a hospital who was willing to walk me through the process of getting tested. I won’t go into details of just how ridiculous that process was, but do know that it involved me saying that I needed testing for gonorrhea in front of at least three separate groups of strangers, and that a very, very old man shoved a speculum and q-tip up there with no warning. Or maybe he did warn me, but my Spanish really was terrible at that point. Regardless, it was cold. And very uncomfortable.

After that experience, I did some serious reflecting on just how great Planned Parenthood really is. I’m 28, I’ve been sexually active for 13 years, and I’ve never been pregnant or had an abortion. That’s undeniably thanks to the care and education that the wonderful women at Planned Parenthood have given me over the years. They gave me free or discounted birth control when I couldn’t afford it on my own, and covered the gap in healthcare when paying for insurance wasn’t an option for me. They fitted me for a diaphragm and taught me how to use it. They held my hand through pregnancy and STI scares, never judgmental, and always warning me before they stuck that damn speculum in.

Planned Parenthood is a gift to Americans. Access to affordable, safe, non-judgmental reproductive health service is a privilege that so many people around the world simply don’t have. And reproductive rights aren’t just for women, even if we are disproportionately affected — thousands of men go to Planned Parenthood for STI testing, and thousands of others have sat in those waiting rooms as their girlfriends and wives get tested, or have an abortion, or just get their annual checkup. In this country, where healthcare somehow still isn’t a universal right, Planned Parenthood is literally a lifeline.

Here are 54 of stories about how Planned Parenthood has helped American women over the years, from providing birth control to abortions to cervical cancer screenings. Take a look at what they have to say, and then join them — and me — in saying: I stand with Planned Parenthood. Yesterday, today, and for as many more tomorrows as we have.

1. Janette, 38

2. Genya, 29

3. Claire, 22

4. Jenelle Marie Davis, 33

When I was diagnosed with genital herpes at 16 years old by one of the two practitioners in our conservative, rural town, I was shamed. He told me my case was the worst he had ever seen, gave me a prescription for Valtrex, and showed me the door — no pamphlets, statistics, nothing. I thought I was a pariah.

So, in the following weeks, I made an appointment with Planned Parenthood. I had already been seeing them for birth control, but I wanted to know if I really did have the worst herpes ever and what to do about it. Upon my arrival, they were empathetic, thoughtful, and they assured me that my first outbreak was typical of all first outbreaks, and I would be OK. It was there that I found comprehensive, inclusive, and non-judgmental care throughout my late teens, twenties, and still most recently, in my early thirties. It is because Planned Parenthood was the only resource in my conservative town that did not treat my genital herpes diagnosis with disgust and disdain, and for that reason, I will always stand behind Planned Parenthood!

5. Sophie, 27

6. Laura, 29

7. Jenna Lam, 40

8. Ella, 29

Planned Parenthood has been invaluable to me despite the fact that I have never actually been to a Planned Parenthood clinic in my life. I've used their online resources to research symptoms for what was eventually diagnosed as dysmenorrhea and to learn about my birth control options when I was first sexually active. When I was considering an IUD, my primary care doctor referred me to a PP because "They are the best at what they do. It's where I would go.”

Far more importantly, I have been an indirect witness to the way Planned Parenthood puts their trust in women choices into action, from the professional and compassionate way my friends have been treated when they made the difficult decision to terminate pregnancies to the thoughtful and dedicated service other friends received when they decided to carry pregnancies to term. And when a close friend had a late stage miscarriage and lost a much-wanted baby, it was Planned Parenthood's incredible doctors, nurses, and staff who provided her D & C with tenderness and love. Like me, her OB-GYN referred her to them because "They are the best at what they do.”

Planned Parenthood doesn't have to have done anything for me directly. Their vocal and powerful belief that women's bodies are our own, that our voices matter, that we can be trusted, that our stories and experiences are important, and I am proud to stand with them today and every day.

9. Kate, 24

10. Katie, 26

11. Jenna, 40

12. Krista, 37

13. Maren, 29

14. Lyndsey, 33

15. Giulietta Markman, 24

16. Monica, 30

17. Justine, 26

18. Holly, 29

19. Jae, 27

20. Amanda, 29

21. Alison, 29

22. Alyssa Morasco, 31

23. Kristin Dearborn, 33

24. Gabi Sorice, 29

25. Breanna Liggan, 27

26. Catie D, 26

Hyperbole free, I don’t know if I would still be here without the health care I’ve received there. The magical antidepressant that finally worked after decades of failures came from the brilliance of my GP, who operates out of our local PP clinic. Without that, there would have been no #OrgasmQuest. Without the actual relief of my worst depressive symptoms, it’s impossible to tell if I would have made it back out from that horrifically dark place I was in.

Planned Parenthood treats my fibro, my GP uses me to teach students about the condition and how to perform the pressure point test. Cured my monthly Cramps of Doom that were knocking me completely out of comission for a week at a time. Does not bat an eye at my career, my relationship dynamic (we’re poly), number of partners I’ve had. She treats me like a person with complex medical problems, never dismissing me as drug seeking, faking, or anything else I’ve become so accustomed to.

Yes, two years ago my local Planned Parenthood also performed my second abortion. I’m not here to argue the morality of abortion or tell that story right now. The fact is abortion is health care and they were there when I needed that form of health care.

(Check out the rest of Crista Anne's story here.)

28. Amanda, 36

29. Kelly, 27

30. Jeanne Keller, 64

31. J, 27

32. Siobhan Climer, 26

33. Liz, 29

34. Rana, 33

35. Kathryn, 32

36. Rose Huttner, 27

37. Dianna Black, 33

38. Sam Benson, 27

39. Oliva, 30

40. Steph, 40

41. Sophia Sutcliffe, 22

42. Elizabeth, 35

When my 16-year-old sister in law was becoming interested in being sexually active, I took her to Planned Parenthood to get birth control. She was too afraid to tell her own parents. I talked to her and had a doctor talk to her about STD's, condoms, what happens during sex. She is now 24 years old, never had an unplanned pregnancy, and never had an STD.

When I was 19 and with my (now) husband, I became pregnant. I did not have insurance and could not afford the doctor trips. PP was there for me. I eventually lost the baby, not due to anyone's fault. But the doors were open to me and I got the medications and help I needed.

43. Miri, 31

44. Stacy, 28

45. Emily D, 29

46. Amanda Mollner, 27

47. Savannah, 22

48. Salena, 28

49. Charlene, 48

50. Lynette, 32

51. Alyssa Benedetto, 27

52. Sally, 52

53. Melanie, 29

54. Sarah, 28

Coming from a very religious family, I turned to Planned Parenthood for birth control in college. I was still on family insurance so I couldn't get it from a regular pharmacy without my family finding out. It was a discreet and affordable way to stay safe while working on my education.

Image: ppact/Instagram