There seems to be a lot of confusion out there these days about what Planned Parenthood actually does, much of it due to numerous political attempts to defund the organization (the most recent of which happened last week, when a piece of legislation designed to combat the Zika virus was blocked by Senate Democrats because the bill included a demand to prevent Planned Parenthood from receiving funding to help fight the disease). Myths and misinformation about what services the health organization provides abound. But there's not just confusion about what services people can access at Planned Parenthood — which, for the record, include cancer screenings, STI tests and treatment, contraception, prenatal care, and other health services in addition to abortion. Many people believe that there is nothing special about the organization, the services that it provides, and the impact that it makes on the communities that it serves; this belief holds that Planned Parenthood could be easily replaced by any other women's health clinic.
This is, of course, not true — as Mother Jones reported in 2015, defunding Planned Parenthood could leave up to 650,000 women without access to reproductive health care. And this year, as Planned Parenthood prepares to celebrate its 100th anniversary on October 16, they've teamed up with filmmakers to document the stories of people who have depended on Planned Parenthood to access crucial healthcare — as well as the workers who provide that healthcare — in a new video series called "Stories of Care. No Matter What." In the course of these videos, they show yet again how Planned Parenthood provides irreplaceable care to communities across America.
The series presents the stories of real people across the country who have relied on Planned Parenthood — and, in some cases, had their lives changed for the better by Planned Parenthood. Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Federation of America, said of the videos in a press release:
“The 2.5 million patients who come through our doors each year are at the core of what we do. We want to make sure that their stories, and the stories of the dedicated providers who serve them, are told. After a year of unprecedented attacks on Planned Parenthood’s patients and providers – this incredible series showcases the real and personal stories of those who provide and those who benefit from Planned Parenthood’s essential health care. I'm so proud of the quality care we provide - you can see it in these films and I encourage people to come see for themselves at one of our 650 health centers across the country.”
Planned Parenthood has been rolling out the videos over the past few months, and today saw the debut of a new one featuring Romper's Danielle Campoamor, who shared the story of how being able to access abortion at Planned Parenthood not only allowed her to pursue her lifelong dream of becoming a professional writer in New York City, but also allowed her to be a better mother, by giving her the opportunity to raise a child when the time was right for her to become a parent:
As Campoamor says in the video:
People who didn’t appreciate my decision to have an abortion or thought that it was wrong asked me all the time, “Well, now that you’re a mom and you know what it’s like would you ever go back, do you ever feel guilty?”
And I do — and I would go back. I would do it all over again — I would just take the time to stop and thank my doctors.
Packing up my life in Seattle and moving to New York City .… I know that the choice that I made when I was 23 to not be a mother — because I knew I wasn’t ready and I knew I wasn’t able — it’s made me a better mom now and to be the woman that I have always wanted to be, and not only do that for myself but be able to show my son that this is what is possible for women when they are granted the ability to make their own choices.
The narratives of "Stories Of Care. No Matter What" are so important because they make clear on a large scale what so many of us personally know — Planned Parenthood's services can change your life. I can tell you from personal experience that the comprehensive and nonjudgmental care that the organization provides can't be replicated by individual doctors or organizations that don't share PP's philosophy. When I contracted an STI as a young woman, I went to Planned Parenthood not only because their sliding scale was affordable for me; I knew that no one who worked there would think less of me or make me feel uncomfortable. As a terrified 22-year-old, that made the difference between getting it treated in a timely manner, or waiting due to fear and shame. And that's only one of the many times Planned Parenthood made a difference for me.