By Marandah Field-Elliot, Government Relations Intern
I have always been a paranoid person. A lock-the-doors-twice, never-even-think-of-trespassing, glass-of-water-between-drinks-at-a-party type of person. So, one Tuesday when I forgot to take my daily birth control until three hours past I was supposed to, I saw a life of teenage pregnancy flash before my eyes — my impending college degree switched with baby blankets. My high school sex education only taught me the existence of birth control (and I was extremely lucky to get that), but I learned nothing about how it works, when it works, and how to get it. The only reason I was ever prescribed “the pill” was as a preventative measure after I decided to run a half marathon and wound up on the E.R. with an ovarian cyst a week later, but I digress.
From the Tuesday night I took my pill late until the following Wednesday afternoon, I found myself actually coming to terms with the fact that I may be pregnant, that I could be pregnant. Finally, at my lunch break, I decided to call the only resource I could think of: Planned Parenthood. Sitting with my knees tucked in the steering wheel of my beat-up red Volvo, I pulled up my local clinic’s phone number, and nervously clicked “dial”. Within five minutes, I was repeatedly reassured that no, you can’t get pregnant from taking your birth control three hours late, and if by some impossible scientific anomaly I was pregnant, I would have options at every step along the way. I thanked the woman, who told me to call her again personally if I ever had any more questions.
My story, though ridiculous and thoroughly blown out of proportion by my own nervous tendencies, is common. Young people are simply not given the necessary tools to navigate their reproductive lives due to an unhelpful combination of sex education spoken in hushed tones and innuendo coupled with a culture of stigma and taboo. Planned Parenthood steps in to fill this void of reproductive and sexual health knowledge by serving as a wildly successful counselor and service provider.
While I was researching for this piece, I was reminded that Planned Parenthood’s website was unavailable due to cyberattacks from extremists. This website which, in addition to providing a comprehensive list of services and where to find them, includes a wealth of easy-to-read, succinct information regarding reproductive and sexual health. For years, I have been referring my friends to plannedparenthood.org to learn more about STI’s, contraception, and healthy relationships. The shuttering of this critically important website means that women, men, and teens across the country were denied factual, non-biased, judgement-free sexual health information.
The appalling attacks on this organization threaten the basic autonomy, health and well-being of the millions of people it serves. Planned Parenthood estimates that it prevents more than 620,000 unintended pregnancies every year. In fact, abortion-related care only accounts for 3% of the organization’s services. The vast majority of the services Planned Parenthood provides actually reduce the need for abortions in the first place.
I stand with Planned Parenthood because they allow people to stand for themselves. I stand with Planned Parenthood because they give people information to decide what happens to their bodies and their future. I stand with Planned Parenthood because they stood with me.