Saturday, November 27, 2010

Paying It Forward

Posted on/at 12:03 AM by The Goddess

Planned Parenthood is a cause dear to my heart. I believe that accessible and affordable reproductive healthcare is something that should be available to all.

I remember my teen and college years when birth control was a hassle to get, and prohibitively expensive. I was forced many times to decide between contraception and food. Yes, abstinence was an option, but not a realistic one, given that I was involved in an adult, long term monogamous relationship.

As a young woman, I was simply not informed about my options. I was unaware that a twelve month supply of the Pill was available for free to teens. Between my mother and my doctor, it's a tribute to my stubbornness that I didn't simply give up and end up a teenage mother.

See, my mother made me get down on hands and knees every week and scrub the kitchen floor with bucket and brush, and do whatever other unpleasantries she could dream up in order to "earn" my birth control allowance every month (a whopping $16 circa 1987). Looking back, I suspect she was hoping I'd decide sex wasn't worth the effort. I'm lucky I was pigheaded enough not to get myself knocked up (as we called it), like she did.

I don't know if she was in cahoots with our doctor, or if he was particularly puritanical, but in order to get my pills, he required me to come into his office every single month for a blood pressure check (absolutely unnecessary, since I was young and healthy) and get a new written prescription for a 30-day supply of pills. There was no Planned Parenthood in my town.

This went on for two whole years. Finally, a temp nurse at my doctor's office removed the scales from my eyes and got very indignant on my behalf. Her name was Brenda, and nearly twenty-five years later, I still remember her. She sent me on my way with an armload of pills and instructions not to come back until the next year. Until that day I had no idea that doctors received free drug samples.

I had even less discretionary income in college. There was a PP clinic which had a sliding fee scale, but the reasoning in the late 80s and early 90s was that is you could afford to attend college, you could afford to pay for your own pills, ragardless of your income. I could have lied about it, but along with floor-scrubbing, my mother instilled a basic honesty in my heart. Never mind that I was on scholarship, had a job, and still had to take out student loans, just to put a roof over our heads.

People should not have to choose between birth control or basic necessities. The consequences are extreme. Fifty percent of pregnancies in this country are unplanned. Let's not make things harder than they need to be. Birth control is dirt cheap when compared to the costs of an unplanned pregnancy. There's no reason the public can't cough up a couple of tax dollars to cover it. It's certainly not the stupidest thing we pay for.

I know the religious wingnuts will say I'm going to hell for these blasphemous ideas. I really had to giggle when the Pope recently stated that male prostitutes might not be damned for using condoms. I suspect he believes that gigolos would be merrily impregnating women (with HIV positive babies, no doubt) if not for the condom. He's even more naive that I was thirty years ago. Sorry, Benny, that's not their main target market.

So anywho, the gist of this post is that I'm in a place in my life where I'm able to give back to the organization that supported me in my foolish youth. They have grown; I have grown. I think we've both learned a bit in the meantime. Today I filled out an application to volunteer at the local Planned Parenthood clinic. I don't know if they will "hire" me, and I'm very iffy about whether I have the physical fortitude to do the work. However, if I can't get involved that way, I'll find another. Maybe a letter-writing campaign?

End of rant.

1-9-2011 Update: I got the volunteer position and start in two weeks. You, too, can get involved by visiting the volunteer page at Planned Parenthood's website. PP needs your help in many areas, from clinic work to government advocacy and policy making. Do your part!

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