Marie was scared. She’d never intended to have sex; she wasn’t ready for it. She was only 15, after all. She hadn’t been given much choice, though.
“If you don’t, I’ll tell the whole school you’re a slut who puts out for everyone,” her “date” had told her as he fumbled at her clothes. She decided to remove them herself before the idiot tore them.
They were supposed to be going to a movie. That was it. She hadn’t expected this. They went to Sunday School together! Yet, in the back seat of his car, it had happened. It wasn’t fun. It hurt. And now, Marie was scared.
What if she was pregnant? Her parents would almost certainly kick her out of the house; they’d made that clear in countless lectures about the evils of premarital sex. She and her baby would be out on their own. What if she had an STD? She wasn’t sure exactly what those were, but the youth pastor at her church had talked about how deadly they were. Did this pain she was feeling mean she was going to die?
Marie knew she needed to talk to someone, but who? Certainly not her parents! She’d never been able to talk to them about sex or any of the changes in her body. Her pastor? Definitely not. The last girl who had gone to him for help had ended up “being made an example” in front of the whole church!
Marie felt alone, desperate, and anxious. She needed to talk to someone now.
Steven opened the letter from the court with trembling hands. A bad marriage had turned into a difficult divorce. Bankruptcy was looming. He could handle the child support payments, but what his soon-to-be ex-wife was wanting in alimony was more than he was making, and he still had all the credit card bills she had accumulated. He worried what the judge would be demanding of him now.
The letter instructed him that state law required he take a six-hour class in parenting children through divorce. Listed were the available sites where the classes were taught. Most were at counseling centers, with costs ranging from $300 to $500. There was only one place Steve could afford.
Joy woke at 3:00 AM, her sheets once again soaked with sweat. She got up and checked the thermostat. 64 degrees, it said. She checked on her two teenagers, Clara, 14, and Roger, 17. They were both huddled under multiple blankets. Joy decided against turning the air conditioner any lower.
Joy had children later in life. She was 37 when Roger was born. She was always the oldest parent at any school function, but she didn’t mind that. While younger parents were filled with anxiety and worry about their kids, Joy was always calm, taking the challenges in stride. At least, until now.
Not only were the hot flashes getting out of control, she’d noticed she was becoming more irritable. She had practically picked a fight with Clara over doing the dinner dishes that evening. Two days ago, she had threatened to ground Roger for a week because he ran up the stairs too loudly. Her friends had noticed her change as well, and were staying away.
Joy knew the symptoms were most likely menopausal. She was definitely within that age range. Normally, she would have made an appointment with her doctor by now. But just two months ago, her employer had stopped offering health insurance because of the rising costs. A simple office visit alone was $70. Pap smears and blood work would put the cost well over $200. Joy simply didn’t have that kind of money to spare.
[text continued below]
Across the United States, thousands of stories just like these occur every day. Women, men, teenagers, all have questions or are facing issues about their health, or child care, or family planning. At a time when insurance and health care costs continue to spiral out of the reach of many, the need for a low-cost solution has never been greater. For many people in cities all across the country, there is only one place they can trust to give them the honest answers they need at a price they can afford: Planned Parenthood.
Planned Parenthood is one of the most valuable health and family resources available across America. For more than 90 years, Planned Parenthood has been in cities small and large, in neighborhoods of varying socio-economic status, bringing heath care and education to anyone who walks through their doors. While few of their services are free any more, some still are and what they do charge is a minute fraction of the cost of other health care providers.
Unlike most medical service providers, Planned Parenthood also takes an active role in fighting for policies and programs that provide access to reproductive health care, information, and education across the nation and around the world. While small-minded and misogynistic politicians like Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels seek to limit and de-fund comprehensive programs and sacrifice public health for the safe of political gain, Planned Parenthood battles to make sure that the reproductive rights of all are upheld and that safe, affordable health care is available to everyone.
The United States of America needs Planned Parenthood.
Marie slipped out of the house and took a bus to Planned Parenthood the next morning. After a careful medical exam, she was relieved to find she wasn’t pregnant nor infected with any disease. The pain she had felt was not uncommon for a first sexual experience, especially one as rough and rushed and unwanted as hers. Marie left not only feeling more calm, but armed with useful information on what STDs really are and how to prevent them, what contraception choices might be available to her, and even information regarding her rights in cases of date rape.
Steven attended the court-ordered parenting class at Planned Parenthood. Not only was the cost affordable, a state-imposed minimum of $30, but they answered many of the questions he had that would help him ease the fears his children had as they made their way through the rough waters of divorce. Steven left with a better understanding of his rights, his responsibilities, and how to help his kids.
Joy had been uncomfortable with the idea of going to Planned Parenthood for help. She was, like many, of the misguided opinion that Planned Parenthood facilities were little more than abortion mills, dirty, grungy, and undesirable. Left with no other option, however, Joy made an appointment. She was pleased to find that not only were the facilities clean, bright, and safe, but the staff was genuinely helpful and caring, something she’d not felt from her family doctor in years! They were able to help confirm that Joy was, indeed, going through menopause and gave her valuable information about her choices for treating her symptoms.
While politicians take the war on health care to levels of unbelievable rhetoric, Planned Parenthood is one organization that is actually doing something to help. Don’t let right-wing carpetbaggers take away your access to comprehensive reproductive health care. Let your politicians know you support Planned Parenthood.
Why? In a world where so very much is bad, Planned Parenthood is one organization doing something good, and they’re doing it for you.