Over the course of the last week, I have watched several demonstrations and have read several news articles concerning current events. I tend to shy away from conversations that are political in nature, but the debate surrounding Planned Parenthood and Women’s Rights has really upset me and I can no longer be silent.
Have you ever stepped foot inside of Planned Parenthood and received their services? I have. Here is my story.
In 2008, at 26, I moved over 650 miles from Western Pennsylvania to Georgia. I had left my position as Director of Prevention and Education at a non-profit domestic violence agency in suburban Pittsburgh to begin a career at a large Fortune 500 company. A crazy, huge change! After 21 months, I lost my job in what is known today as the Great Recession. Along with loosing my job, sanity and security, I also lost my healthcare coverage.
During the time frame that I was uninsured, it came time for my annual gynecological exam. I thought about skipping the exam and waiting until I found a new position with health benefits, but who knew how long that would take. I asked myself, do I really need to be doing unnecessary things?
While fretting over this decision, my non-profit training kicked in – Planned Parenthood and their sliding fee scale for the uninsured! I found the Planned Parenthood that was closest to me, scheduled an appointment and drove to get a physical exam that included an evaluation of my height, weight, blood pressure, urinalysis, breast exam, pelvic exam, and Pap smear.
If you have always had healthcare coverage consider yourself fortunate. If you have never had to weigh the pro’s and con’s of skipping a preventative and potentially life saving exam consider yourself fortunate. Everyone is not that lucky.
When folks are outraged and want to “defund” Planned Parenthood (or similar organizations, like local public health departments) they are risking programs that offer pap smears, breast exams, pelvic exams, birth control, mammograms, prenatal services, HIV testing and a myriad of other services that I and tons of other women have needed or currently need.
I am not here to debate abortions, political parties or pink protests and marches, for that matter. Everyone has a right to their own autonomous views and I respect that.
But, I am here to challenge folks to be “compassionate” and “thoughtful.” Think beyond yourself. Think beyond your family. Think beyond your financial situation and socioeconomic status. Think beyond the women you interact with in your social circles and mom groups. Think beyond your immediate neighborhood. Think beyond your “stereotype” of the women accessing public programs. If anything, think of me.