Thursday, February 23, 2012

Why I'm so adamant about Planned Parenthood

I decided to break off and make this a blog post instead of continuing to flood the comments section of that poor advocate's status.

Let me take the soapbox for a minute, and tell you why I'm so adamant about Planned Parenthood.

Reason #1:

When I first started using Planned Parenthood I was getting out of a severely emotionally and physically abusive relationship - and I had a little bit of Stockholm going on. In my session with the fully licensed nurse practitioner, I explained this. She not only had a great deal of sympathy and nonjudgmental concern for me, she offered to refer me to a counselor who took cases like mine on a pretty decent sliding scale. A Christian counselor, no less, because I had mentioned to her that I grew up in a Christian home as brief explanation for the depth of shame I felt about having been in the relationship in the first place. She also recommended that I not get a pap-smear and cervical exam that day, because their technician for the day was male and though there would be a female presence in the room with him at the time of the exam, it would probably make me uncomfortable and I could just come back another day.

She did her best to educate me about the resources available, including the various church-based groups in the area who work to help victims of abuse get back on their feet. The fact that I declined these services made little difference, the impact was the same. She was trying her best to help me.

Reason #2:

When I first started using Planned Parenthood I was starting a polygamous relationship (by the way, bad idea) and she also offered me a list of resources to study about that choice and it's most likely emotional repercussions so that I would be aware of what I was setting myself up for - especially with my recent background - before getting too involved.

Reason #3:

When I started using Planned Parenthood I was working a minimum wage job at Jack in the Box, I had a $500/month rent payment plus an agreement with my ride to work to help pay for gas, eating ramen and ravioli on a regular basis was costing me at least $25/weekly and I certainly did not have $500 for the run of STD tests I needed or $250 for the doctor's visit or even $25/monthly for the birth control pills. When I explained this to the RNA at the counter and asked how she could help me, she jumped at the chance and went digging through their various files until she found a form for a government program geared toward women in my age group and financial situation. I was able to have the full run of tests done, the doctor's visit, and a full two years of free birth control because she found me that form.

Now, addressing the points of post that I commented on, in no particular order:

  • It is true that the only MD or "real" doctor of any sort in a Planned Parenthood office is the one performing the abortions. However, the Nurse Practitioners (NLP) on staff are wonderful. When at my husband's Nurse Practitioner (who works under the banner of UW Medical Centers/ UW Physicians - one of the best groups of physicians in the country) to work out his post-surgery medications and try to figure out why recovery was going so badly, I asked her what the differences between a RN, LNP, and a doctor were. Her explanation was longwinded and - to be honest - I don't remember most of it because I didn't fully understand most of it. But she summed it up for me as this: Nurse Practitioners are almost Doctors. If they want to, they can go back to school for another 4 years or so and become a doctor. But they are cheaper to employ, and they often decide to become nurse practitioners because they want to help people sooner.

    In case any of you missed that, this means that the reason that Planned Parenthood's staff is mostly Nurse Practitioners is because they're cheaper to employ - which enables them to not charge the outrageous prices of a normal clinic with doctors.
  • When you walk into a planned parenthood office and actually look at the literature, it's at least 50% safe-sex and abstinence focused. This includes information about the various forms of birth control methods (pill, IUD, etc), the "plan B" pill (which I personally am against), condoms, spermicides, making sure you and your partner are tested and have been found to be free of STDs, and just not having sex in the first place. The other 50% is comprised mostly of pamphlets from various organizations through churches and the government who advocate other, non-abortion choices. Choices like open or closed adoption, partial- or co-parenting (a system where the mother works with a couple who already has kids to raise her child so the burden isn't entirely on her and she doesn't feel alone), and temporary foster care. At least 75% of all the literature I've ever seen in a Planned Parenthood office is anti-abortion.

    After that, you're left with a small fraction of the literature, we'll call it 25%. That fraction is comprised of information about government assistance programs, information about counseling, a few random medical studies (pamphlets that say things like "are you depressed? University of Washington is conducting a study...), information about planned parenthood and how various pieces of legislature will affect them, and - in an almost extreme minority - information about abortions.
  • Planned Parenthood is more discreet than other clinics are because they realize they may be dealing with someone who doesn't want anyone else to know she's been there. Every time they take your information for a situation where they may call you, they ask if it's all right to say "planned parenthood" or if there's something else you'd prefer they say on an answering machine or to someone other than you.
  • The people in Planned Parenthood are compassionate. They have conversations with you, try to ease any nervousness you might feel, and watch for body language cues that may indicate you're uncomfortable with a subject or procedure. In my experience they have always welcomed and patiently answered any questions or doubts I had regardless of how busy they were.
  • Oh yes. We are so mean-spirited. I mean, how dare we want women to receive better health care from another provider. Let's look at the facts. There are 700 PP centers in this country that provide extremely limited gynecological care. There are over 7000 Federally Qualified Health Centers that provide comprehensive health care. Now, which one would you choose?? 

    I, and many girls in my situation, would choose the one I can afford. True, Planned Parenthood is a government-subsidized program that cannot offer the absolute best care available. True, you would probably get a higher level of care at a gynecologist's office. However, I can't afford it. And neither can any of the women who walk into a Planned Parenthood clinic. The "federally qualified health centers" are still more expensive than Planned Parenthood and are often less compassionate, less accessible, and sometimes downright frightening in the lack of empathy and bedside manner in the doctors and nurses.
  • "Yet, after so much public outcry in favor of Planned Parenthood, we still have protesters standing outside harassing clients that are coming for lifesaving care like breast and cervical cancer screenings!" --We are not harassing. We are offering CHOICES to women going into your centers. I mean, they are pro-CHOICE, right? Also, they are not doing any breast care!! Oh my gosh, could they please stop with this lie?? PP is a level one breast cancer center. That means you will not get any sort of diagnostic or treatment of breast abnormalities at their clinics. You are only allowed to receive a manual breast exam from their know, the same kind you can do in the shower...or the same kind that can be done by ANY physician in this country

    There are various points in this one that I will address.

    Firstly, in my experience the protesters do border on harassment with their tactics. I have seen them attempt to publicly shame and humiliate girls walking into the clinics. I have seen them physically stand in the only drive-way into the small clinic parking lot to prevent cars from entering, thus also blocking traffic and causing various safety hazards to themselves and many around them. I have seen them shout "whore" at women trying to enter the clinic, and shove papers at people. Papers with images that are - quite frankly - disturbing in their attempts to "raise awareness" about abortion. I have seen all of these things from "pro life" protesters - and the ones who have the name of a church on their shirts are often the worst.

    Secondly, Planned Parenthood *is* a level-one breast care center. That does mean that you get a manual exam from an RNP. This is helpful because many, like me, occasionally think they've felt something in their own manual exam and need a second opinion. They also refer patients to specialists who charge on a sliding scale if needed, and educate them about the options if they (the patients) do find an obvious abnormality in the future. Because they are only a level one breast care center, they can't give you diagnostics. This is true. However, they can say "You need to go see so-and-so about this" and to someone who has limited resources and can't just be tossing money at potentially unnecessary doctor's visits, that does a world of good.

    The third point is that of the RNP versus the MD...I already addressed this one.
  •  For 40 days straight, anti-choice protesters are once again gathered outside our health centers in an effort to deter clients from receiving the compassionate care they deserve." --Really, compassionate care?? Or coerced care??? I would say coerced 

    Nothing is ever coerced. That would be illegal, and each and every RNP would lose his or her ability to practice medicine. While one or another RNP may emphasize one or another choice based on personal preference, it's always made clear that it is the choice of the patient and there are many, many options.

    Something that those bashing Planned Parenthood need to consider before saying a word is the vast numbers of women and girls in this country who can't afford insurance or even a doctor's visit.

    For example, I am currently unemployed and for six months have been unable to find work. My husband recently lost his job of 14 years - a job that was just barely keeping us alive in the first place. We are starting a company, and that is going very well, but it isn't an immediate cash cow. It has to grow first. In the meantime, we get just a few hundred dollars a week from Unemployment, with which we need to pay a rent payment in the thousands, an electric/heating bill in the hundreds, credit card bills and medical bills from when he was unable to work in the tens of thousands, a phone bill in the hundreds, and other utility bills in the hundreds - all of these things necessary for us to survive and start our business. 

    Without the ability to go to Planned Parenthood, and be educated on how to use the programs available to us so that we don't have to pay hundreds for clinic visits, prescriptions, and birth control, we wouldn't be able to afford birth control. If this were the case, one of two things would happen:

    1) We would severely decrease the amount of sex we have. Studies across the world show that when this happens, you've started down the road for divorce.

    2) We would end up having at least one, possibly two or three children we could not afford. We would end up on welfare, food stamps, subsidized medical care for the children, and still barely able to give them a decent life. This would be irresponsible of us, would drain the resources that come out of taxpayer dollars (which those against planned parenthood are griping about), and would set our children up to either continue the cycle or end up involved in drugs, gangs, and crime. 

    Considering the options, I am extremely grateful that in our time of need, there is an institution in place. It may not be the best healthcare in the world, but nobody expects it to be. It serves a need. So unless you want to personally start paying for all of the doctor's visits, prescriptions, STD tests, birth control, education, and referrals that Planned parenthood offers *thousands* of women who need should probably consider backing off a little.

    As a note, I am personally against abortion. I think it's an amoral decision and is one of the worst things you can do to yourself emotionally. I think it is wrong that a woman should be able to choose to murder someone just because that someone's life starts off by interrupting hers. However, I will not ask for abortions to be illegal because I know that if they were made illegal we'd simply have more cases of women hurting themselves by trying to self-administer (I.E. the coat hanger method, intentionally falling down flights of stairs, ingesting harmful substances to force a miscarriage, etc). I believe that instead, women should be educated and encouraged. Educated on what the choice they're making really means, and encouraged that they *are* strong enough, that they *can* handle at least birthing the baby, that they *are not* alone, and that they *have no reason to be ashamed*. 

    Unfortunately, that is the exact opposite of what I have seen from the majority of pro-life groups.

    I am adamant in my support of Planned Parenthood because I can see past my own personal beliefs to recognize the great good they are doing for the people in our country. People I care about, because they are all important to God; and whether they walk into Planned Parenthood or not, whether they have an abortion or not, doesn't change that.

1 comment:

  1. Quotes taken from a status update posted on Facebook by Abby Johnson, Pro-Life Advocate