Thursday, February 02, 2012

How Planned Parenthood Saved Me

In the wake of the Komen Foundation's baffling decision to stop funding Planned Parenthood, I decided to reprint this entry from May 2011.


I do not dwell in the past, but the battles over the reproductive rights of women compel me to reveal a few pertinent facts. Planned Parenthood was the only resource when I was a young woman--a young, upper-middle class woman with a good education and family background--that helped women of every class and nationality, in confidence.Today Planned Parenthood is so often presented (not always transparently) as a program that is targeted at minorities and encourages promiscuity.



It is not a matter of pro-life/pro-choice, it is a matter of WOMAN CONTROLLING THEIR REPRODUCTIVE DESTINIES RATHER THAN THEIR REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEMS CONTROLLING THEM. It is about women's health, not only abortion. Contraception, family planning, prenatal care.

What, in God's name, is so hard to understand about that? Oh, pardonnez moi, 95% of the politicians voting to cut funding are male. It's not going to have an impact on their day to day lives. ONLY ALL OF THE WOMEN IN THEIR CONSTITUENCY!!!As the Reverend Debra Haffner writes: "Access to maternal health care, contraception and family planning services can and should be available to all women, regardless of nationality, geography, economic status or other factors. "

I am not used to being outraged, dear readers, but this is simply too much to bear. My story, in brief. When I was a young woman, I was extremely attractive to the opposite sex. (Thank goodness some things never change.)

As my dear darling Mama had taught me, I was religious about birth control. I never had unprotected sex.

At 21, I missed several periods. I was panicked. I couldn't tell anyone. I was afraid to tell my ob/gyn. Partly because I was 21 and things like this were not supposed to happen to moi.

Pregnancy happened to careless, low-class women. Never to moi.

The only option was to go to the Planned Parenthood clinic in New York City, although I lived outside the city at the time. I was examined, and the doctor told me the most beautiful words in the world:"You're not pregnant."

The burden fell off my shoulders, and I resumed my life, both practical and romantic. Again, I was religious about birth control. Perhaps my taste in partners was occasionally lacking, but not my protection of myself. It happened again. This time with all of the symptoms that went along with being enciente. I was still young, unmarried, with absolutely no desire for children. What could have gone wrong? I was so careful!

Again, I sought out Planned Parenthood. Again, it was a false alarm. Faithful readers, if an abortion had been called for either time, I would have had one in a heartbeat. I was far too young, far too inexperienced, with no interest in having a child. I would have been a terrible mother. Je ne regrette rien. It happened once again, in the weeks before my marriage. We knew we couldn't afford to have a baby. My fiance was in school. Abortion was our only option. We were devastated, but it would have been the only feasible choice. Again, Planned Parenthood. Again, a false alarm.

Years later I researched a novel (yes, your faithful correspondent has some skeletons in her past, including some unpublished novels) about a young woman whose father is an abortionist, circa 1916. The lack of women's choices in those days, both in love and in work, fascinated me. (Also I adored the clothes, a major component in writing an historical novel. At least for moi.)For research, I went to the Planned Parenthood main office and archives. These were in the days before the loonies started destroying the material--although it had just started.

Over the weeks I read dozens of articles, personal stories, medical journals, etc. All described the horror of life before accessible birth control. Back alley abortions, suicide, women chained in unhappy marriages, women literally unable to STOP having children whether they wanted to or not. Millions of unwanted children raised by miserable or cold, uncaring mothers. Fathers trapped in jobs because they had so many mouths to feed.

"Down With The Abortion Clause" Kathe Kollwitz,1924


Or join a convent, but that seems a tad extreme, don't you think? Some members of the government dream of going back to that happy time! There is more to say upon the topic, but I shall save it for another entry. Dear readers, do not let the government slash Planned Parenthood funding. They help prevent more unwanted children coming into the world and the women without the money or too frightened to get the help they need.


Elisa & Fletcher

P.S. I still use birth control conscientiously. And recommend that my readers do the same. Planned Parenthood is an excellent resource.

1 comment:

dami said...

Amen to every word. My last pregnancy scare was when the twins had just started walking (and years before they started sleeping). I would have had no doubt at all.

I wish to point out, however, that the beautiful image you give us is captioned "published by the German Communist Party". Not that it bothers me at all, especially considering what the alternatives were in the country at the time.