Today is Planned Parenthood’s 95th anniversary – she sure does look good for being nearly a century old, no?
On October 16th, 1916, the first birth control clinic in America opened in Brooklyn, NY. Today, birth control is used by 89% of sexually active women seeking to avoid pregnancy. I am incredibly proud to say I have volunteered at Planned Parenthood off and on throughout the past decade, including a year-long graduate school internship where I worked as an abortion counselor and advocate. There, women entrusted me to speak with them and guide them through one of – if not the –most difficult decisions of their lives. Quite often, I held their hand while they underwent the procedure. It was one of the most rewarding experiences of my life, and I can promise you that the women and men who work at Planned Parenthood don’t do it for the glamour or the pay, neither of which exist. They do it because they care for women.
Lest you think PP’s 800 health centers only offer abortions, more than 90% of their work is preventive primary care, providing contraception, working to reduce the spread of sexually transmitted infections through testing and treatment, and screening for cervical and other cancers. And lest you think you automatically know the “type” of women who visits Planned Parenthood, I’ve worked with patients there who make six figures and patients who, quite literally, never knew you could eat fish that wasn’t fried until I told them. Married couples from the suburbs who were afraid to approach their ob/gyn with an unwanted pregnancy, and inner city 14-year-olds who didn’t know where to turn for help. I myself have gone there for pap smears, HIV tests, annual exams and more – despite having health insurance and access to a bevy of physician specialists – because I so admire and respect PP’s mission and philosophy.
I’m in excellent company: Guess who else loves Planned Parenthood?
Plus Julianne Moore, Gabourey Sidibe, Rachel Bilson, Jason Alexander, Judy Blume, David Eigenberg, Ali Larter, Camryn Manheim, Cynthia Nixon, Aisha Tyler, Gabrielle Union, Alfre Woodard and many more.
More importantly, I’m joined by the three million women, men, and teens who rely on Planned Parenthood each year to keep them healthy, safe and empowered.
Sadly, an onslaught of attacks has been launched in an attempt to discredit and eradicate Planned Parenthood, along with the ability to be pro-choice. Republican Congressional leaders have proposed a budget that would prevent the nation’s birth control funding, as well as eliminate access to cancer screenings. They want to slash the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Initiative by $64.79 million, mandating that half of the remaining $40 million be used for grants to provide abstinence-only education – and we all know how well that works. They recently passed a bill that would allow a hospital to deny lifesaving abortion care to a woman, even if a doctor deems it necessary.
Personally, I refuse to allow anyone to make decisions about my body except me, myself and I – and certainly not some 60-year-old man in a suit who’s never met me. I’ll continue to fight for Planned Parenthood, so they may celebrate their 100th, 150th, 200th and many more anniversaries to come. Go visit them on Facebook and wish them a Happy birthday. Then give your cervix a big hug and tell her you love her while you still can.