Today, my husband and I went to a Planned Parenthood support rally (called PINK OUT!) in Wilmington, Delaware. It was one of those things that you think, okay I support them so I’ll show up – not thinking I would have the courage to share my story but I did.
This is my story. I’m sharing it here because I think it’s important to have people know the stories of those who support Planned Parenthood.
I was born in the late 1960’s to a woman who was not married, was in her early 40’s and was not interested in becoming a mother – again. She had been married 3 times and divorced 3 times. She had 4 children from two of the marriages, but was not their custodial parent. I have never met her. In 1960’s America abortion was illegal. My biological mother still had a choice, though 1 choice could be life threatening. Needless to say, she chose to give me up for adoption. I was lucky enough to be adopted by a loving family and will forever be grateful for that fact.
Fast forward 21 years… As a student at West Chester University, I became a patient at the local Planned Parenthood. They were informative, caring and kind. I had my gynecological exams done there, purchased birth control there, obtained free condoms from them and had STD testing at Planned Parenthood. At 23 years old I went to this same Planned Parenthood to get a pregnancy test. Lo and behold I was indeed about 8 weeks pregnant! The woman who counseled me at Planned Parenthood was so wonderful. I don’t remember her name, but her words of understanding and encouragement allowed me to decide to keep my baby.
This isn’t the end of my story…moving ahead about 6 years to when I was in an emotionally abusive relationship. Yet again I became pregnant. This time was different for me. I knew the relationship I was in must end, not just for me but for my 5 year old daughter. We deserved better than being treated poorly by a “dry drunk” who cared more about himself than anyone else. But I was carrying his child. We would be tied to each other for life.
Again, I went to Planned Parenthood. They again discussed my options – keep the baby, give the baby up for adoption or, as a last resort, have an abortion. NEVER did they encourage me to make any choice other than one that I felt was right for me at that time. I chose to terminate the pregnancy. I was almost 9 weeks pregnant at the time. The clinic I went to in Delaware no longer exists. But it was there when I needed it. There were pro-life protesters outside the building with disturbing images of fetuses on their posters, screaming that I was a baby killer and I was going to hell.
My mother was with me as I walked to the door of the clinic. No purses or bags were allowed, as the Police Officer stationed outside the door checked us in and apologized for the protesters. It was a small building, with a small waiting room and reception desk when we walked in. My memory has it as dimly lit, but I think that’s just my vision of it. They called my name to go have blood work and an ultrasound done. The nurse was quietly supportive. Then they wheeled me into the procedure room. As I lay there, I started to hyperventilate, tears running down my cheeks. The doctor spoke softly and kindly to calm me. The nurse held my hand throughout. I wept. It took only minutes. I wept. They brought me to the recovery room where I sat in a recliner and stared out the window while I wept. I wept for 3 days straight.
I tell this story because I do not take my choices lightly. I did not terminate a pregnancy on a whim. It’s taken me many years to begin to accept the choice I made. I am so incredibly thankful that thanks to millions of women who fought for a woman’s right to choose, I was able to make that choice legally. I had it done safely without worry of mutilation, infection or death. I was treated with kindness, respect and compassion by the people at Planned Parenthood.
I share this very private story of mine with the world so you all can see that we need the caring, compassionate and professional services of Planned Parenthood. I understand that by sharing my story there will be some that choose to blast me for my choices. That’s your right, but know it won’t change my mind. I am Pro-Choice because no one should ever feel they have the right to choose what I do with my body and my life but me.