Another day, another member of Congress threatening to defund Planned Parenthood. The only thing more reliable than a gray-faced, white-haired dude attacking reproductive rights is Planned Parenthood itself. For the past 100 years, Planned Parenthood has offered a wide range of safe, affordable health care without judgment.
Don’t believe us? We interviewed a handful of women about their experiences with Planned Parenthood and, spoiler alert: This shit saves lives.
The stories below largely represent those of straight, cisgendered women. We’d be remiss if we didn’t point out that Planned Parenthood serves all people, whether they identify as women, men, transgender, non-gender conforming, and people of every sexual orientation, race and income.
On getting an abortion:
The first time I heard about Planned Parenthood was when my mom dropped me off at college. Other than that, I had just seen Juno. I was 18. I didn’t have a doctor and didn’t know where to go to get a pregnancy test. The experience was scary, but the staff was calm and helpful. They gave me a lot of advice. When I got the test results back, I was like, can I tell them anything so they don’t think I’m pregnant? So I told them that my period was about to start and that messes up the hormones and can throw off a test.
The woman laughed and was like, ‘That is absolutely not the truth, but I’d buy it.” She made me feel so much better.
The test was positive and I got an abortion. Every year when the anniversary comes around, I’m always like, ‘Thank God I have a country that lets this happen, even if it’s looked down upon, and thank God I have a mother that supports my decisions as a woman.’
Since then, I’ve been on birth control, which my insurance has never covered. I started on the pill, which didn’t work with my body, so through Planned Parenthood I tried the implant and then the NuvaRing. Those made me bleed for two years straight, and I was entering perimenopause at 24. It was recommended I get an IUD, and with a doctor it would cost more than $2,000. Instead, I made an appointment with Planned Parenthood.
If Planned Parenthood didn’t exist I don’t know what I would do.
On having nowhere to go for safe sex advice:
I’ve always been a Planned Parenthood donor, but I didn’t make a physical visit until I was 23. Since then, I’ve relied on them for STD screenings, multiple birth control methods, Plan B and lots of advice.
I started utilizing their services when I lost my first job out of college. When I explained my financial situation — no steady income, no insurance — I was given a year’s worth of birth control for free, Plan B, a box of condoms and a complimentary STD screening. The staff was friendly, fast and made me feel safe. I’ve been a regular ever since. I’ve never been talked down to, which I can’t say for every doctor I’ve visited. When my birth control sparked depression, suicidal thoughts and bleeding for months on end, they patiently worked with me to find alternatives for my body.
Thanks to their guidance, I now happily have an IUD and have never been happier with a birth control method.
I’ve never had anyone that I could talk to about these things; I don’t think my mother has ever said the words “condom” or “birth control” in my presence. So every time I want to make changes to my birth control, have questions about my period or the safest methods to avoid STDs, I consult their website’s chat bot. The person on the other end is always extraordinarily friendly, efficient, and informative. I consult it multiple times a year!
When I scheduled an abortion — which, fortunately, I didn’t end up needing — they were calm and made me (a sobbing wreck, mind you) feel at ease.
They struck a balance between informing me of what to expect, normalizing the procedure and making sure my emotional needs were tended to.
When the clinic followed up, they were careful to neither disclose that Planned Parenthood was calling nor verify that they were calling about an abortion. I assume this was to maintain anonymity, ensuring that angry boyfriends or parents don’t catch wind of what patients are up to, just in case. I’ll never forget how safe they made me me feel.
Without their services, I don’t think I could live the secure, comfortable life that I lead now.
On needing an STD screening:
I was 24 at the time. My then-boyfriend and I went to Planned Parenthood because he had a weird red spot on his penis. He had just switched jobs so he didn’t have health insurance. It turns out he had chlamydia, and so did I even though I had no symptoms.
We went in no appointment, waited maybe 30 minutes and then saw the doctor. They took a urine sample and said they would call with the results in a couple of days. The doctor thought it was chlamydia then and there, so she sent him home with two super strong antibiotics to knock it out. The tests confirmed it two days later. The experience was very matter of fact and professional. I can’t remember what the out of pocket for the antibiotics she gave him, was but it was dirt cheap. Overall it was quick, painless and professional. I’m super grateful because without them, I could have had chlamydia for years without knowing, and it could have affected my ability to have kids.
On needing information on becoming sexually active:
I originally went to Planned Parenthood when I was 15 years old and had yet to visit a gynecologist. I had a boyfriend and we were starting to think about becoming sexually active. This was obviously not a conversation I could have with my mother, so I went to Planned Parenthood to get more information regarding birth control and gain a better understanding of the decision I was about to make. With the cost not being prohibitive at all, I could afford to be responsible with my body while maintaining anonymity (and not getting in trouble with my mom).
I was very intimidated when I walked into the office and wasn’t sure what to expect. As soon as I met with the nurse, I felt very safe. Both the nurse and the doctor were warm and informative. They explained the risks of being sexually active and provided me with birth control options. I was also educated on sexually transmitted diseases and how to recognize signs and symptoms.
After leaving, I felt very empowered.
I was provided with pamphlets and condoms should I decide to take the next step with my boyfriend. They assured me they wouldn’t call and leave a message on my house voicemail without my consent. I felt as though I had more knowledge and control over my body and I that I had a safe place to turn if and when I had questions. It’s so important to have accurate information and have a place to turn.