Congresswomen stand up for Planned Parenthood. Join them!
This is pretty personal for me, because even though I have always had insurance and a good PCP, even I have used Planned Parenthood— not for an abortion, not even for birth control, but for an HIV test.
I was too scared or nervous to call up my PCP and make an appointment for an HIV test. I didn’t want to say it out loud. I also didn’t want to wait. So one morning, after I couldn’t take worrying anymore, I got up, got on the subway and went down to the nearest Planned Parenthood (because I am lucky enough to live in an area where it is that accessible).
I walked past a woman holding a rosary handing out pamphlets asking me to choose life. I wanted to scream at her What do you think I am doing here?? I was there to find out if I had a chronic illness that would require daily medication for me to live past the next year! I was choosing life at Planned Parenthood! I was potentially saving my own! And you know what, so do most women who go to Planned Parenthood, even going by the anti-choice definition of “choosing life”— only 3% of the total services Planned Parenthood performs are abortions.
I walked through the bulletproof doors and gave the security guard my purse to poke through as I went through the metal detector, and I felt a new wave of anger at the woman out front. She wasn’t going to shoot up the place, I knew that, but her cause was associated with people who would. Who would try to prevent the 3% of women seeking a legal medical procedure from obtaining it— even if it meant killing the doctors, or (with all irony lost on them) killing the women themselves. Funnily enough, abortions are also performed in hospitals, in OB/GYN clinics. I never had to walk through a metal detector to go to them. Only Planned Parenthood is threatened like this, for performing the exact same services as hospitals.
I walked straight to the window and said “I want an HIV test.” This was the first time I had uttered those words. After giving them my insurance card and taking the forms to fill out, I was informed that since I didn’t have an appointment, it would probably take about 45 minutes for someone to see me. 45 minutes? When I was scheduling my annual physical with my PCP, the earliest they could fit me in was 3 months from then— 45 minutes was nothing.
Within a half hour, I was in an examination room and giving the nurse practitioner my sexual history, and what I knew of my partner’s. She assured me that my risk factors were low, but she congratulated me on being responsible for my sexual health and not just relying on my boyfriend’s information— he could be lying (as much as I didn’t want that to be true, it could have been) or the virus could still be lying dormant in him (as he hadn’t been tested there was no way to know for sure). She then put on latex gloves, pricked my finger, and squeezed out enough blood to saturate a little stick. She then excused herself and left me with my thoughts.
My risk factors are low. I do trust him—he’s told me much worse things about his past girlfriends. But oh god, what if—? It’s not a death sentence anymore, and I have insurance, I can get the treatment I need. I’m much more fortunate than a lot of people in that situation. But I don’t want to be in that situation…
Ten minutes later, the nurse came back in. ”It was negative.”
I had my life back. I smiled all the way out of the clinic, though the metal detectors, out of the bulletproof doors, past the woman with her rosary and pamphlets (and a friend who had joined her). It was a gorgeous sunny day, and it wasn’t too far of a walk to my favorite burger joint and comic book store. I pulled up YouTube on my phone and hooked in my earbuds to listen to my favorite songs on my walk.
If that’s how I felt when I needed Planned Parenthood once, I can only imagine what it’s like to need Planned Parenthood all the time. And now how it feels to have your only source of affordable sexual and reproductive health threatened.
This is a war on women. It is a war on me when I was at my most vulnerable. It is a war on the peace of mind of millions of women, men, and teens. And for what— to score petty political points with your “base” in 2012? Pathetic.