I can’t believe it’s been 2 years since all this happened— though this blog exists largely as a testament to the amazing resonance we’ve all shared, I still think about our work together often. Thanks, y’all, and happy birthday to us.
And by “we,” I mean all of us who have contributed stories to this blog. That’s right, Planned Parenthood gave their first-ever social media Maggie Award to us today! I went to the awards luncheon in Washington, DC, and here’s what I said:
First, thank you Planned Parenthood, not only for your health care and advocacy, but for championing women without fail, with what seems like without compromise. That’s rare in our political climate. Planned Parenthood has successfully negotiated that emotional connection we all feel to the work they do, whether that’s through their clinics or their advocacy, and turned it into a relationship. They’ve embraced social media, both their own properties and the wider world’s conversations.
But also, I’m sharing this award with all the women who shared their stories on Planned Parenthood Saved Me. It’s a crying shame that we live in a world where this is an act of bravery, but that’s what it was. The women that said, “I would have bled to death if it weren’t Planned Parenthood,” or “Planned Parenthood’s staff were the only people who understood me after I was assaulted,” or “Planned Parenthood found my cancer.” That’s what you do. That is your work, and we thank you.
Which is the last thing I want to share– I really want people to understand that PP Saved Me blew up not because Rachel Maddow read from it on her show, or that it was in the Washington Post and a dozen other major major outlets. More than half the traffic to the site came before any major media mention, and that traffic came from Facebook, Twitter & Tumblr.
Women sharing their stories with one another made the difference her. Our stories matter, more than ever.
I’m not just blowin’ smoke when I say this is our award, either. You all have been incredible, and I got choked up on stage talking about your bravery and excellence. Thank you, deeply, for your commitment and contributions. If I could hug you all, I would.
When I was a child I experienced some fairly brutal and long term abuse. This left me with a level of uterine scarring that cannot be helped, and makes it impossible for me to carry a child to viability. I would be dead long before a child could live.
I am careful, but birth control fails.
Without Planned Parenthood I would have been dead before I was 20.
Back when I was eighteen, I was “kind of” seeing a guy who had the awful habit of “accidentally” losing the condom halfway thru sex. The first time it happened I took a cab (20 miles one way!) to Planned Parenthood for some emergency contraception. Worked a charm. I really thought the condom incident was a one-off accident and continued seeing the boy.
The second time, I realized he was doing it on purpose. I couldn’t take off from work, but begged the guy to go to the clinic for me, but he would not since he “pulled out” and thus considered it impossible that I be pregnant. Well, he was WRONG, and I was.
That Planned Parenthood location did not offer abortion, but referred to to a clinic that did. That clinic was three hours away and I had no car, but managed to get a female co-worker to drive me.
The ONLY thing I felt afterward was relief.
I am thirty now, married to an awesome man, and we have four kids together. He’s an involved dad, the exact kind of man who deserves to be a father.
I am so glad I do NOT have children by anyone as irresponsible as my old hookup. Abortion is a great tool for family planning and nobody should be ashamed of using it. I see young single women all around me who aren’t ready for motherhood, whose lives are yet chaotic, who are bullied into having babies they aren’t ready for. There is no need for this! Have your children when YOU are ready. Don’t just passively accept whatever your biology blindly hands you.
May Planned Parenthood live long and prosper. I have been donating to them for years now out of gratitude for the wonderful life I have now. It wouldn’t have been possible without their services.
When I was 17 I was felled by severe abdominal pain and was sent to the hospital. They decided that it was probably a dermoid cyst and prescribed antibiotics. Throughout that summer they kept upping the dosage but it didn’t seem to do anything and I just couldn’t afford the costs, so I stopped taking the pills. A couple of months later I passed out at work and was sent home. I decided to go to Planned Parenthood as I had no doctor, no insurance and no money. They found that the cyst had grown to the size of a large grapefruit and could burst at any moment. Two days later I was under the knife and the doctors told me that the cyst HAD burst and that I was in imminent danger of dying of peritonitis. Thanks to the quick action of Planned Parenthood, I am here to tell you about this…we need them for much more than contraception (although that is terribly important too). Please help support them!
When I was 15, I foolishly had unprotected sex and became pregnant. Thanks to the abortion services at Planned Parenthood, the course of my entire life was set back on track. I am eternally grateful.
When I was 24 I got a urinary tract infection for the first time. I proceeded to get one every two or three months for the next year. Each time it set in faster, and was more painful. If you have had one, you know what I’m talking about! I had no health insurance at this point—the package offered at my job cost so much that I had to choose between insurance and a place to live, and I chose to continue paying rent. I received treatment at Planned Parenthood for free: the visit, the test, and the antibiotics.
If left untreated, a urinary tract infection can spread to the kidneys and cause permanent damage, or the infection can spread to the bloodstream and lead to sepsis. This is fatal. It scares me to think that something so easily treated could have been the death of me.
Every time I have been in a Planned Parenthood office I received nothing but gracious care. And when I look around the waiting room I see so many men and women there for so many different reasons. I don’t know where else most of us would have to go without them.
One month when I was an uninsured 19 year-old college student, my period was a week late. I was too poor to even buy a pregnancy test, and the ob-gyn at the school clinic had been brusque and judgmental the last time I’d been in for a check-up, so I was too scared to go there for a test. I couldn’t afford an abortion and couldn’t face the thought of being shunned for an unwed pregnancy. I seriously considered suicide. One sleepless night I decided to email the local Planned Parenthood. I told them my “friend” thought she might be pregnant and couldn’t afford an abortion. Less than 24 hours later, I got an email from an employee there, saying that my friend could come get a free pregnancy test, and that if she needed an abortion they would help her get one regardless of financial resources. No matter what, they said, they would help. I felt so much safer, knowing that someone was on my side, and wouldn’t judge me. For the first time that week I was calm enough to leave the house and go to class. My period started that afternoon, so I never did need to go in, but I will always be grateful to PP for telling a terrified girl that someone was on her side.
I have to have my second colpo in a year. The first one I had student health insurance to cover. But I’ve graduated and still have no job so Planned Parenthood is my only option. A colpo can cost up to $800 without insurance but my PP only charges $300 and on top of that they have a loan program to cover half the charge. Guess who provides the loan program? Not the government, but a local woman’s roller derby team whose teammate died of stage 4 cervical cancer. She had suffered sexual abuse and avoided getting annual exams. The team raised money for her treatment but it was too late for her. They donated the money to PP and have held fundraisers since. When I found out I cried my eyes out. Incredibly frustrated and sad that women aren’t getting the care they need but also thankful that these women who lost a teammate and friend are turning that grief into something positive that helps women like me.
Once for my best friend in her college days, and once for my darling, dearest little sister who had made the mistake of having drunken, unprotected sex. Both women had to use the 2% of services that PP rarely utilizes but so luckily offers, as both women were in similar situation in their lives (just starting out college, accidentally getting pregnant, not knowing much about sex, having come from strict catholic upbringings where Sex Ed. was not taught, not even at home), and needing to learn about sex, the female body, the reproductive system, and of course, birth control, annual exams, and the like. I use Planned Parenthood even though I have great “regular” health insurance because I believe in them and their mission and that every person should have the basic right to basic health care and choice. Especially where reproduction is concerned. Thank you, Planned Parenthood, for giving my friend and my sister their lives back. One is now a full-time teacher for special needs children and proud mother of two; and my dearest little sister (who I want to protect from everything!) is still in school, and learning to navigate her way in the world, even the hard choices. And she continues to go to PP for her annual well-health care visits … And education about reproduction rights.
I make my donations directly to PP, and will continue to do, and encourage others to do so, so that other women may receive quality care regardless of their status. Shame on you, Komen Foundation, for saying you stand by women. You’ve merely been shamed into reversing your decision regarding PP.