Open Letter in Support of Planned Parenthood

January 27, 2017

Dear Planned Parenthood,

I’ve been going to Planned Parenthood since I was a small child. My mom was on Medi-Cal and was a regular patient of Planned Parenthood for annual exams and birth control. She is quite friendly and chatty and quickly developed friendships with the staff. I have fond memories of accompanying her to many of her appointments.

At some point in my youth, I made a pact with myself that I would not become sexually active until I was grownup enough to take myself to Planned Parenthood to get a check up and birth control. I felt like this was a good litmus test for myself because I was very nervous about my first pap smear. I decided that once I was responsible enough to take myself to a Planned Parenthood appointment, then I would be mature enough to choose to have sex.

On a random Tuesday in my senior year of high school, a group of my soon-to-be or already sexually active friends skipped school and went to Planned Parenthood. Tuesday was walk-in day; we wrote our names and needs down on the sheet at the front counter and sat down to wait, feeling a little anxious. By the time I was called into an exam room, I was shaking with nerves, but also resolve to do the right thing for my body. When the nurse walked in, she instantly broke into a grin, greeted me by name, and asked me how my mom was. It was very comforting see a familiar face from my childhood years. And so began my annual ritual of visiting Planned Parenthood for an exam and birth control.

In college, I visited a different Planned Parenthood that was equally welcoming. On every visit I was treated with kindness, respect, and given the best medical advice for my health and family planning needs. I always felt supported and cared for at Planned Parenthood.

When I was 20, I had my first adult visit to a traditional clinic due to a UTI. I went because I had full insurance at the time, but the experience stands in sharp contrast to Planned Parenthood.

Instead of the respectful treatment I was used to, The nurse made me feel abnormal for having a sex life at age 20 and I felt shame for being sexually active. It was a degrading and humiliating experience. It would never have happened at Planned Parenthood. I appreciate that Planned Parenthood providers are trained to be supportive and respectful of the women they treat.

I can think of four friends whose lives were saved by Planned Parenthood thanks to early detection and treatment of pre-cancerous cervical cells. I am so grateful that Planned Parenthood’s screenings allowed them to become moms, teachers, engineers, and professors.

Thank you, Planned Parenthood, for all that you’ve done for my life, for my mother’s life, and for my friends’ lives. You are heroes!

In solidarity, appreciation and admiration,

LothLorien Stewart