a political post has never made its way on to my blog before, but this afternoon the Iowa Senate voted to defund Planned Parenthood and I may or may not have engaged in a heated conversation on a local news station’s Facebook page. spoiler: I did engage, and I’m about to tell you why.
a brave soul posted this under the news link: “You have got to be kidding me. This is not in Iowa’s best interest. Planned Parenthood is vital for woman’s health. This puts so many women at risk.”
and immediately after someone commented with: “And yet, there’s plenty of other clinics that offer the same services.”
usually that’s not enough to engage me in a Facebook conversation, but I couldn’t help but notice this was a middle-aged white male referencing these “other” clinics. so, I shot back with a quick “…says the privileged white male.” there was some back and forth trying to explain privilege and even though that conversation was exhausting, I need to tell you now why PP is important.
when I was in high school I went with a friend after school because her boyfriend’s condom had broken the night before, she was behind on her birth control pill, and she didn’t want to take a chance. instead of criticizing her for missing the pill a couple of days in a row (which has legitimately happened to me in an OB-GYN office), the wonderful staff at Planned Parenthood responded not with judgment or disapproval, instead patiently listing options for protection and informing her of some of the risks and side effects of different types of birth control.
while I was there with my friend, other people from our high school came in. all people we didn’t know very well, all people we didn’t regularly talk to, but we all knew it was a safe space, free of judgement. it was in that first trip I took to PP that made me realize my reproductive health was going to be a lifetime commitment, and that I was solely responsible for maintaining it. before then, although I had little experience to speak of, my sexuality had not seemed to entirely belong to me. it was a matter of public opinion, debated by high school friends, the Catholic church, politicians, and older smooth-talking boys.
the lack of agency only seemed to encourage poor decisions, under the justification that they were hardly MY decisions to make. one of my best friend’s in high school got pregnant at the age of sixteen because her parents prayed that she would not engage in sex before marriage. they prayed about it instead of being supportive about birth control options. it was first in my small hometown in South Dakota, sitting in that doctor’s office, that I got my first taste of adulthood, and I felt a small thrill in the realization that I could own my sexuality, no one else was allowed to make those decisions for me.
that same Planned Parenthood office, albeit with different facades, receptionists, and doctors would be available to me in Nebraska, Minnesota, and Iowa. I can’t even begin to tell you how comforting that was for me, AND I HAD OTHER OPTIONS. I could have utilized my parents’ insurance, gone to the doctor I had seen since I was a baby. some people, a lot of people, don’t have those same options.
there is some statistic about how one in five women in America have utilized PP services. I am one of those women. not only did they provide me with contraception at no cost, but they validated that I am capable of making responsible decisions regarding my sexual health. I support, and stand with, Planned Parenthood because they have always stood beside me.
when Ben and I moved to Iowa, we knew no one. I didn’t know which doctor to see, where to go, how my insurance was going to work since I had gone remote. instead of stressing out about it, I looked up Dubuque’s PP office. I walked in, had my annual exam, connected with the doctor, and walked out to protesters holding up signs, screaming that if you had an abortion you would go to hell. it was really easy for me to ignore them, because I wasn’t in a situation that warranted discussion of an abortion, but for the others walking in and out of that clinic? who knows—but here’s what I do know: MYOB. in case anyone missed that day in third grade the teacher introduced that acronym, it means mind your own business. I guarantee there are more worthy causes that deserve your attention rather than a young woman walking into PP for an exam or birth control or something else totally unrelated to abortion.
how about we talk about accessible clean water? or making sure that children already born get every meal they deserve when they are at home? or how the other night I was so nauseous over the state of our country that I had to google if Ben would be deployed in the event there was a mandatory draft?
that’s it. I’m exhausted and I know there are still four more years of hard conversations and work ahead of us.