My Planned Parenthood Experience

With its place in the news, for better or worse, Planned Parenthood has made a name for itself. It goes without saying that most of the news is on the negative side, filled with protesters and images that make you sick to your stomach. With all of the negative press out in the news, it can be hard to separate the organization from it’s mission to what it gets put under fire for (abortions are just a fraction of what Planned Parenthood does - in their 2017 annual report, 3% of their activity is providing abortion, the other 97% is STD testing, birth control, pregnancy tests, cancer screenings, and more). For me, it was the other services that caught my attention and drove me to book an appointment. 

Ever since I was 14 and started my period, it has had a mind of its own on when to come, how long to be last, and how it would affect me. Because of its unpredictability, I decided to book a Planned Parenthood appointment to get a birth control prescription in order to regulate my period. I grew up going to marches with my mom, where we proudly held handmade signs of support for the nonprofit. A pink sticker with the simple words “I Support Planned Parenthood” stuck on my bedroom walls at home until it peeled away a few months ago. For me, the organization was a household name; I knew that going to a clinic was as commonplace as going to see the doctor when I had the flu. However, even with all of these thoughts in my head, booking the appointment was the scariest step, as I had to separate my thoughts from the negative, patriarchal remarks about the organization that can’t help from getting in the back of my mind. Other than that, booking the appointment took less than five minutes: I went online, put in my location and some information on who I was and what I needed, and pretty soon I had an appointment booked for the next Monday. 

Whenever I’ve driven past the location where I booked my first appointment, I saw crowds of protesters, and being cornered by one of them on that Monday morning was one of my worst fears. While the crowds of protesters weren’t there, there were still a few standing around. Before getting out of my car, I was planning and worrying about what to say if I was approached and what my story would be; with all these thoughts going through my head, I was surprised to find a volunteer near my car door, ready to escort me into the building so that I wouldn’t have to be approached by the protesters. When I got into the clinic, everything was just like any other time I’ve gone to the doctor. I filled out paperwork and was taken back to a room. There, they asked about my medical history and took my blood pressure, all the normal things that any doctor I’ve been to does. 

Going into the appointment was one of the easiest and most pleasant experiences I’ve had with a doctor. I was nervous that there might be an air of judgment or stigma going around, as that’s what we’ve been taught to think about with the services Planned Parenthood provides, but there was absolutely no sign of judgment, only support of choosing the right choice for your body. Although I grew up hearing about Planned Parenthood, it wasn’t until I stepped into the clinic as a patient that I really realized how commonplace, and vital, these offices should be. The choice over one’s body is a human right, and one that is often talked about, but not supported. While no experience is the same, mine was one that made me support the organization even more, and I've felt the need to spread its message ever since I stepped into the building for my first appointment. If anyone has ever been curious about what the organization provides, whether it's because you’ve been thinking about going to an appointment, support their mission, or are just flat out curious, I hope this look into my experience gives you what you’re looking for.