Planned Parenthood Taught Me to Take Care of Myself — and Neil Gorsuch Wants to End That.

By Princess Salazar, Planned Parenthood Client in Utah

Growing up in Utah, we didn’t talk openly about sex, much less safe sex or birth control. I have seen young women in my community get pregnant before they were ready simply because they didn’t know about birth control or weren’t taught sex education. When I was 17 years old, I was lucky enough to participate in a Planned Parenthood summer youth program in my home state of Utah. The five-week course provided me with a safe environment to learn about birth control options, sexual assault, sexually transmitted infections, and much more. I had always been too shy or embarrassed to ask the questions I needed answered, and so had many of my friends. We were afraid of what we didn’t know.

That’s me, Princess Salazar!

But at Planned Parenthood we felt comfortable. We learned not just about safe sex, but about ourselves. We learned to feel good about our bodies, about healthy relationships, and our own values as individuals. Planned Parenthood made me feel empowered to take charge of my own life and to make my own decisions. As a Hispanic woman, it meant that much more for me to build the confidence to speak up freely in the face of so many stereotypes — to proudly talk about about relationships, goals, and my own feelings and opinions. It also pushed me to realize all I can accomplish, and that going to college would be a way forward. This short class did more than teach us about our bodies — it helped us discover who we are as people, and how to be healthier, stronger and independent. I’ve had other friends who’ve gone to Planned Parenthood to get birth control, or who didn’t feel comfortable coming out to their families — but Planned Parenthood counseled and helped them through it.

When politicians talk about “defunding” Planned Parenthood, they are talking about cutting off critical programs like this one. And it’s not just politicians in Congress. Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, sided with politicians in Utah who wanted to shut down this program and deny thousands of Utahns like me from going to Planned Parenthood for health education and screenings. And that’s exactly what would have happened if Gorsuch would have had his way. Thankfully for me and thousands of other women and men in Utah, he did not.

I’m sharing my story because it’s important. And I want others to have the chance to benefit from the health care, education and support Planned Parenthood provides. Our elected leaders have the responsibility to keep Americans safe and healthy, and reject any attempt to cut off care at Planned Parenthood. They must reject Supreme Court Nominee Neil Gorusch. Every person deserves the chance to make informed decisions about their health and future — and nominees to the highest court in the land must protect that right.

Princess Salazar is a guest author for Planned Parenthood Action Voices, as well as a Planned Parenthood client in Utah. Learn more and get involved at istandwithpp.org and at Facebook.com/PPACofUtah.

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