I Stand With Planned Parenthood

I had surgery at a Planned Parenthood in New York City in 2012. I was diagnosed with severe cervical dysplasia. Pre-cancerous cells had invaded the surface layer of my cervix. Of course I didn’t have health insurance. I had moved to New York on a whim. I was waiting tables and taking creative writing classes. My four visits including the surgery at Planned Parenthood cost me five hundred dollars. The same medical care elsewhere would have been anywhere between two and six thousand.

To enter the Bleecker Street location I first had to walk through protesters before buzzing to get in the first door. Then I had to show my ID before having my belongings searched by a security guard. Next was a metal detector, then two more security doors, before I had to show my ID again.

I never knew how unsafe it could be for a young woman seeking health care. I never knew this kind of protection for my body before. I never knew how vulnerable I was out there, until I was safely inside all those doors.

I imagine there are people out there, people with a lot of power, believing a waiting room in a Planned Parenthood is full of immoral women clutching their stomachs. Or worse, they see a bloody murder scene. These people are wrong. These people have probably never felt unsafe out there. These people have never sat in a Planned Parenthood waiting room to find out if it’s cancer.

The waiting room was always full of people, some young and some not-so young, both men and women of many different races and backgrounds. Most people were studying or reading or texting. It’s hard to admit, I also expected something more of a scene but it looked like any other waiting room. It had the same no-one-likes-to-wait and no-one-likes-to-be-unwell vibe that could’ve been any waiting room anywhere. It was pretty dull. Once someone’s phone started ringing a Beyoncé ring-tone. A hippie-looking woman started singing along and made the whole room laugh. The most action I ever saw was an African-American guy on his way out. He threw a handful of condoms up in the air like confetti, before announcing to the waiting room: Guys, I’m gonna be okay. The security guard stood up. We cheered.

Planned Parenthood’s statistics are everywhere. I don’t need to talk about them here. Abortion services are only a tiny part of what Planned Parenthood offers. Whether you are pro-choice or not (but really who are you, or I, to say what we believe should extend beyond ourselves) is irrelevant. Defunding Planned Parenthood is announcing to a waiting room full of regular people to go home. It’s saying that whatever it took to get you through those doors isn’t important or necessary or vital. It’s saying your safety doesn’t matter. It may or may not be cancer. Defunding Planned Parenthood is telling millions and millions of people they’re not going to be okay.