We sat in the Langley Cafe, drinking coffee with too much sugar and cream from shiny brown mugs because that seemed like the adult thing to do as we waited for the last member of our pack to finish up at the clinic and join us with her little brown paper bag with a month’s supply of birth control pills, matching the bags we had in our purses and backpacks.
Seventeen and 18 years old, we had visited Planned Parenthood for the first time together, providing courage to each other as we took this first step towards autonomy. We were, orchestra geeks, cheerleaders, volleyball players, youth group members, babysitters, sisters, daughters. At the time, we only knew that we didn’t want to end up pregnant and thankfully there was a resource nearby to help us.
In hindsight, I recognize this as a pivotal moment of empowerment for each of us. To make a medical appointment, discuss reproductive health care options, and be recognized as responsible for our own bodies and our own futures was liberating.
Planned Parenthood continued to provide me with affordable reproductive health care, regardless of my ability to pay, for 15 years after that first visit, through college, time in the military and when my health insurance was less than helpful, Planned Parenthood was there for me.
Now, with recent changes to Title X, specifically the “gag rule” stating that clinics receiving any federal funding cannot even mention abortion as a legal, medically safe option, let alone provide it, Planned Parenthood and other clinics have to make a choice between providing patients with truthful information regarding their health care options or accepting federal funds.
To be clear, the Hyde Amendment was enacted to restrict any federal dollars from directly funding abortion services in 1976. Planned Parenthood has chosen to stand by its patients rights and has withdrawn itself from federal funding, so, no funding for routine exams, STI treatments, cancer screenings,education or those little brown bags with a month’s worth of birth control. It’s time to stand with Planned Parenthood.