100 years today Margaret Sanger opened her first birth control clinic in New York. It was soon shut down because 100 years ago birth control was outright illegal. While Sanger is fraught with complications due to her strategy to partner with wealthy eugenicists to bankroll the development of the bitch control pill and other aspects of the birth control movement, her work lead to the founding of Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood is where myself as well as many friends first sought out reproductive healthcare. It is where the protagonist in Judy Blume’s Forever heads to when she decides she is ready to have sex with her high school sweetheart. They have always been a target of conservative forces who wish to reduce women’s access to healthcare. From being painted as abortion mills to targeting communities of color, Planned Parenthood has had to fight for its existence from day one.
As an 18-year-old I was lucky to have plenty of Planned Parenthood clinics to choose from when I needed reproductive healthcare. Alas, too many parts of the USA have only one Planned Parenthood for too wide of geographic area.
Planned Parenthood as a brand is good for the entire reproductive health care movement in terms of knowledge. Being able to be name dropped in a timeless novel is important to young people identifying where they can obtain services without having to ask their parents. On her 13th birthday, our health care provider gave my daughter more privacy on our account. Now she can make her own appointments, but I can’t see how the system can give her total privacy since we do have health insurance and get statements. That said, I am glad that our health care provider gives young people a sense of autonomy. But that is why Planned Parenthood and other clinics are so important – privacy.
After college I volunteered at one of the Planned Parenthood clinics. I checked in patients, filed records, and other things required as the first face people saw. I will never forget a young woman, probably in college, who was frantic about her privacy, “My mom will never know, right? Even if she calls?” That said, I saw young women escorted to the clinic with their mothers as well.
In 100 years, Planned Parenthood has offered the women and men of the USA the opportunity to access confidential healthcare. From birth control, abortions, mammograms, and STI testing, Planned Parenthood has done a lot for us. I’m conflicted on what to wish them for the next 100. Ideally women wouldn’t need a separate healthcare clinic for pregnancy terminations or low-income women need to seek out free mammograms outside of their regular healthcare team. But until we get to that day, long-live Planned Parenthood and their kick ass services.