Why Planned Parenthood Matters

Last year, when I first heard of many Planned Parenthood closures due to budget cuts and political pressures of being pro-choice, I honestly will say that I didn’t care too much about it. In fact, I believe my thought process was “Well, that sucks.” I’m all for what Planned Parenthood has to offer, but since it didn’t affect me in any way if they were to close, I didn’t really care. I’m lucky to be employed at a job that offers benefits and health insurance. I’m covered. I don’t have to worry about this kind of stuff, right? Wrong!

A few months ago, my younger sister went to a Planned Parenthood clinic to have her annual exam. She had been laid off from her job the year before and was having trouble finding a current job. Barely surviving on her unemployment, she depended on Planned Parenthood to provide her with the services she could not afford. I may be biased in saying that she is a hard-worker and an intelligent young lady, but the truth of the matter is, she is exactly just that. She’s driven and is always working towards something. But it never dawned on me what it’s really like, for many women just like her, to struggle without a job, without health insurance and without hope of finding a way out.

I specifically remember a conversation we had after she had gone to our local Planned Parenthood for a Pap test. She found out she had precancerous cells and needed surgery to remove them before they turned into cancer. She was diagnosed with VIN II and VIN III. Sitting across from me at her dining room table, she had tears in her eyes and said “This hasn’t exactly been my year.” With little hope in my voice, I uttered “Well, when you’re at the bottom, there’s nowhere to go but up.” I didn’t know what else to tell her. I was afraid for her but didn’t want to show it. I wanted to be strong for her when all she felt was weak.

Weeks after weeks, appointment after appointment and phone call after phone call, she was able to obtain temporary health insurance. A long and tedious process, but well worth it. She underwent two painful surgeries and is, as of now, fully recovered. This is why keeping Planned Parenthood facilities open is important to me. This is why it matters.

Last month, when I first read that Susan G. Komen halted their partnership with Planned Parenthood cutting hundreds of thousands of dollars, I was enraged. I even became emotional. I asked myself, “What if my sister didn’t have this place to depend on? What if she wouldn’t have ever been diagnosed and developed cancer?” Planned Parenthood prevented the worst from happening to my younger sister and for that I am extremely thankful. I can’t imagine, and I don’t want to, what could have happened to her if there was no Planned Parenthood for her to go to. I found Komen’s decision to be completely ironic and contradictory knowing that funding such organizations like Planned Parenthood helps prevention and education on the disease they research and hope to find a cure for.

It was reported that Komen’s decision to cut funds to Planned Parenthood was due to newly adopted criteria that block funding to organizations under investigation to determine if public money is being spent performing abortion procedures. However, like Patrick Hurd, CEO of Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Virginia, said, “Cancer doesn’t care if you’re pro-choice, anti-choice, progressive, or conservative. Victims of cancer could care less about people’s politics.”

Before I could get into my rants on anti-abortion organizations, which I feel had plenty to do with the pressure of Komen making their decision to cut funds, I was happy to learn that they reversed their decision and continued with funding towards Planned Parenthood.  A public apology was made by Nancy Brinker, founder and CEO of Susan G. Komen, and was quoted stating, “We will continue to fund existing grants, including those of Planned Parenthood, and preserve their eligibility to apply for future grants. We want to apologize for the recent decisions that cast doubt upon our commitment to our mission of saving women’s lives.”

What my younger sister went through is my understanding of why Planned Parenthood matters. Imagine if it was your daughter, your mother or your friend. Maybe then you will care and understand.

For more information on how you can help keep Planned Parenthood open, you can visit http://www.plannedparenthood.org/.



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