Last night at the Democratic National Convention, I found myself nodding in agreement with an articulate woman and mother named Libby Bruce. Bruce spoke emphatically about her own experience as a Planned Parenthood patient. She explained her battle with endometriosis and told us how she was able to get medical treatment for her condition that could have robbed her of her fertility.
I had tears in my eyes watching as she shared that she is a mother now because of the care she received at Planned Parenthood. She spoke for many of us. She spoke for me.
My first time as a Planned Parenthood patient was in 1994. I was nearing the end of my freshman year of college and I was experiencing menstrual cramps so painful that they interfered with my daily life. I knew I should go to the doctor to get checked out. I was 18 and I had insurance, but it was under my father’s plan and I was embarrassed to tell him that I needed to have a “female” exam and ask his permission to make an appointment.
As a full-time college freshman with a work-study job which paid me $4.65 an hour, I knew I needed to find a way to see a doctor. I turned to Planned Parenthood. They used their sliding scale and I was able to see a caring physician who prescribed medication to make my cramps less painful. You see, people have this idea that Planned Parenthood is just for women who want to have abortions and this couldn’t be more wrong. When I went, I was just a college student. I didn’t have a boyfriend. I had never had sex. I just wanted to go on living without horrific cramps for a week out of every month. Because of the compassion and care they showed me, I continued to go there for routine exams while in college.
In the spring of 1997, I was informed that a routine Pap Smear had come back with abnormal results requiring further testing. After some invasive and uncomfortable procedures, I was told that I had cervical cancer.
Can you imagine being not quite 22 years old and learning that you may have something that could prevent you from having babies someday down the road? I was scared. I felt alone. I was out of school and in a full-time job. I was doing what I was “supposed” to do. However, when I started my job, there was a 6 month waiting period for my health insurance to kick in. I was no longer on my father’s insurance plan. There was so much fear and confusion and I was really scared to death.
Planned Parenthood was there for me. I was able to get referrals to specialists. I saw one doctor who made me want to run for the hills because it was suggested I undergo a hysterectomy. I saw another who took a conservative approach to eradicating those unwelcome cells and after my last surgery on September 25, 1997, I have been healthy and I am cured. I am a mother. Yes, I am a mother. And I am so thankful that Planned Parenthood was there for me when I didn’t know where else to turn.
Without Planned Parenthood as a safe haven for low income women to have access to cancer screening and routine exams, I truly believe that I would not be a mother today.
I have two amazing boys, ages 7 and 9. I am a mother because of Planned Parenthood.
I am quite sure there are people right now going through what I went through at that age. And it scares the hell out of me to think that if Mitt Romney ends up being elected president in November that he will be robbing other women of the utter joy that being a mother brings.
You see, Planned Parenthood will cease to exist under a Romney-Ryan administration. On Romney’s website, here is what it says in terms of Planned Parenthood:
“As president, he will end federal funding for abortion advocates like Planned Parenthood.”
Mitt Romney is so out of touch with the real struggles Americans face, especially women. His statement is ridiculous. Planned Parenthood DOES NOT USE FEDERAL FUNDS for abortion. By law, federal funding to Planned Parenthood cannot be used for abortion. Mitt Romney doesn’t care about that fact. IF YOU ARE A WOMAN, Mitt Romney does not care about you. He does not care about people like me who had nowhere else to turn when I was in college. He does not care about the uninsured who need mammograms. Or birth control. Or HIV counseling. Or rape crisis counseling.
Let’s say enough uninformed voters turn up on November 6? It will signify the beginning of the end of Planned Parenthood. What will happen then? What will happen to women who rely on cancer screenings at Planned Parenthood? What will happen to rape victims who turn to Planned Parenthood’s rape crisis counseling services? What will happen then? What will happen to the 3 million people per year who have preventive care at Planned Parenthood?
I have written here before about the War on Women. This issue hits me to the core. I said it before and I will say it again. I do not believe that I would be sitting here with the title of Mom–the most important title I could have–if not for the medical care provided by Planned Parenthood. I will be eternally grateful to this organization. They have provided me with the greatest gift–the gift of my children.