Given the results of the latest election, fear has been running high as to what’s going to happen to Planned Parenthood.
My newsfeed has been filled with people either encouraging others to boost their monthly donations to the organization, or pledging to increase their own donations. There’s good reason to be concerned — Planned Parenthood has served over 2.8 million people in the US alone with both health services and sexual health education. Below, I spoke to several people close to me about their first experiences with Planned Parenthood, and how their local clinics have helped them. Names have been changed for privacy purposes.
“The first time I went to Planned Parenthood, I was fifteen. I had just had unprotected sex for the first time, with someone I didn’t know very well, and I was terrified I might have an STD or be pregnant. I asked my best friend to go with me to the clinic after school one day, and she told me her older sister could drive us. My friend and her sister dropped me off at the clinic, and told me to call them when I was ready. I lied to my mom about what I was doing that day after school; I told her I was meeting the same friend and her sister for coffee at the cafe that happened to be down the street from the clinic. When I entered the clinic, I filled out the paperwork, took a urine test, and waited. Even though [the wait] couldn’t have been more than fifteen minutes long, it felt like forever until my name got called. I followed the nurse back into her office, and she asked me the reason I came in. I told her, and I felt really shaky and nervous. I was too young and too embarrassed to even be talking about sex, let alone having it. Luckily, my results were clear, but she told me to be careful and to take care of myself.”
“I was 17. It was November, and I was raped, so I went to the hospital for a rape kit. They had me go to Planned Parenthood to get tested for STDs, and my best friend and my best friend’s mom took me. They gave me information about what to expect if I did have any STDs. Planned Parenthood was really helpful. [The nurse] gave me her card if I wanted to talk, and she was very open and relatable. She was very mother-like, even when my mother wasn’t there.”
“The first time I ever went to Planned Parenthood, I was 17 and in a committed relationship; I had wanted to be on birth control for a while, but I was afraid to do it through my GP because I was underage and scared that my parents might find out somehow. So I went to Planned Parenthood to get an IUD, and the wonderful people there informed me that in my home state of California, my use of birth control was kept private from my parents, even with me being 17 and on my dad’s health insurance plan. I ended up getting my IUD through my GP, but Planned Parenthood definitely helped me in making that decision and in keeping me calm and informed. I’ve also been with friends to get birth control prescriptions and after pregnancy scares, and they’ve always been nothing but understanding and kind, especially to us scared 17-year-olds. I’ve known of one or two girls in my circle who’ve gotten abortions there, and I think that service is so incredibly valuable. I grew up in the Catholic school system amongst predominantly Catholic family and friends, and many of my friends, and I’ll admit, even myself, have been woefully uninformed at times. I think their services are frankly invaluable.”
Other friends shared that they had never been to a Planned Parenthood, mostly due to inaccessibility. “Do they have one in every town?” Kelsey asked. “Because I don’t think there is one near me.”
Amanda echoed this; she said, “It’s too far for me to ever go there.”
I can only hope that Planned Parenthood locations won’t dwindle even further under Trump’s presidency. For many of my friends and I, and countless others, Planned Parenthood was the first place we ever went to to learn about sexual health or receive help for something sexual health-related. Millions of people have benefited from the services Planned Parenthood provides, and hopefully millions more will be able to as well.