Many thanks to Planned Parenthood

I don't know where to start this post.

The attacks on Planned Parenthood are based on hate and fear of women. That just has to be the reason. There is no other reason for anyone to be opposed to Planned Parenthood. I do not understand the hate and fear of women being in control of their bodies, of making choices, except to believe that those who oppose Planned Parenthood want to be the ones in control themselves.

When I set off to college, I quickly found myself in a Planned Parenthood seeking out birth control. While my mom could have provided me with free access to the practice she was a nurse at, I knew I needed my own place. A speculum of my own, so to speak. But really it was the privacy. I mean, really, Mom? You wanted me to get my feet up in the stirrups in an office where I knew you had full access to? Oh you.

Ironically though, when I was without any insurance, I did take you up on that offer. But at 22, it was a different world than when I was 18. OK, back to Planned Parenthood...

I had the sweetest woman as my provider for a few years. She talked to me honestly and helped me learn more about how my body worked and how to take care of it. She taught me how to take the pill so it was the most effective. The packs were $10 a pop. As a poor college student, I often found myself at the clinic every month buying a pack at a time. If things were going well (aka got extra hours at the shoe store), I might splurge on two packs at a time! WOOHOO!

I sometimes hear women complain about having to go to their annual gyn exam and I have to wonder if they just happened to have had a poor first experience. While it's not my favorite thing in the world, I do not feel like I complain the same way I hear other women. And for that, I thank that sweet women, whose name I have forgotten, for showing me that getting a pap smear isn't the worst thing in the world.

After I left Planned Parenthood for the free services of my mom's clinic, I signed up to be a volunteer at Planned Parenthood. First I signed up for street fairs so I could hand out condoms and dental dams to my fellow Chicagoans. I really liked talking to other young people about the services they could receive. If only I didn't hate blood and needles, I think I could had been a great OBGYN or midwife. I moved to client services in the same clinic I once visited monthly for pills. I helped with client intake, checking them in, making sure all the paperwork was read, signed and understood.

I was the cheery face that welcomed scared teens and confused women. I still remember this one girl, perhaps 17, that asked me a million times if there was any way her mom would ever find out she was at the clinic. And I worked non-abortion days. Every person I welcomed was there for an annual exam, birth control, STD or HIV test. There were some who were there for their post-abortion exam. I think they were the least scared.

Going from client to volunteer was one of the most profound transitions and learning experiences of my life. It was empowering to go from scared teen to advocate. It was amazing to have the ability to calm fears either with a simple smile or my actual words.

In 2007, I was asked to take my first blogging job for Planned Parenthood Illinois. It was just for one month, but I was asked to handle the social media outreach while PP staff handled the opening of a new clinic in suburban Chicago. It was an honor. And another educational experience. It also pushed me from being a kinda anonymous blogger who was scared to put my name on posts about abortion out of fear, to being the blogger for Planned Parenthood. If staff could come to work in a clinic with people yelling at them day in and day out, I could stand up with my name.

So today, as many bloggers take to the interwebs with their stories of Planned Parenthood, I join them to thank them for many lessons.

Thank you for teaching me about my body.
Thank you for such comfortable experiences that I don't fear my OBGYN.
Thank you for being a safe place for scared women, no matter their age.
Thank you for teaching me what being pro-choice is really about.
Thank you for helping me stay child-free throughout college.
Thank you for trusting in me when you needed an advocate.
Thank you for showing me courage in action. 
Thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you!

Head on over to the carnival home to read other stories.

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