While I have no desire to share my physical age, for I think each Soul, should they chose to be, is timeless, for the purposes of this treatise on Planned Parenthood, I will. The reason, I think this topic is more than a meaningful one. In truth, Planned Parenthood has long been extremely significant in my life. No. I was never pregnant. I planned or at least Planned Parenthood taught me to. I share the one and only tale that caused me to question my judgment and myself. On one occasion I had unprotected sex. The results? Well, you decide. I offer my story.
Since birth I was gently guided through lessons on human sexuality and reproduction. Long before I was born, my Mom filled every bathroom in our home with adult and written for children books on the subject. In casual conversations, Mommy would chat about the subjects and ask of what she trusted my sisters and I read while on the toilet or in the tub. We all spent a lot of time in the restroom. None of the silliness, sex jokes, leery looks, or nervous laughter, occurred in our home. I always believed we were too well informed to think such nonsense just or jest
By the time I was five, my Mom trusted I understand the biology. She never bothered to probe further. Mommy was correct. There was no longer a need. I learned my lessons well.
During my youth, in 1962 Allen Ginsberg published Eros magazine. Only four copies of this artsy hardbound book were made available. The journals were glorious. Full glossy color photographs and, even as a child, I actually, loved the essays.
At the age of twelve, the subject discussed turned to contraception. My Mom and Dad found a fine booklet on reproduction to share with me. The National Organization for Women published the informative pamphlet. I remember it well. The copy was printed on newsprint. Photographs, diagrams and articles, all appeared in black and white. Mommy and Daddy said, when I was ready, let them know. They, as I, hoped to ensure that if or when I chose to have a child, it would be my choice.
The time came, not to have a baby, but to explore physical intimacy. I was sixteen at the time, the year 1970! Confidently, I believed I was the only virgin left on the planet. At least I knew a close friend of mine; a “good Catholic girl” had experienced her rite of passage. Thus, when Jimmy offered, I considered the proposition.
Intelligent and aware as I was, I said I would have to be on the pill first. Prevention was my priority. After all, to say I am a practical person would be an understatement. For all of my life, I looked before I leapt.
To this day, I know not why I was too embarrassed to broach the subject with my parents. However, I did not. One afternoon, in my family’s Wisconsin kitchen, my girlfriend Donna and I decided to seek information from the underground Switchboard. [Fascinating to me in retrospect, all those years ago I was sure that Donna lost her virginity when we were in eighth grade. She was not the friend who I knew with certainty had done the deed with a boyfriend. Years later, when Donna first thought to dive deeply; she came to me for advice. However, I digress.]
The community Switchboard referred me to Planned Parenthood. I telephone to make my appointment and t was assured that when I arrived, I would need to confirm I had my parents’ approval. Yikes. I have never lied in my life, which in my family, to withhold information is to lie. Therefore, I knew I would have to tell my parents of my plans.
I was not scheduled to see a doctor, nurse, or attend a three-hour introductory seminar for another month. This gave me time to build my courage. I did. As I might have imagined, the conversation was painless. My parents are truly phenomenal. The chat was not quick or dirty. That is not the way for my Mom, Dad, or me. Depth, details, possibilities, all one needs to ponder is our manner.
Shockingly, as days turned to weeks, a typically beyond patient me, a person who can and usually does put off immediate gratification for years, gave into the urge. It was only days before my appointment. I still wonder. Did I really think that Planned Parenthood would find any sperm and cleanse my body? I shake my head as I scribe this thought. I remained forever baffled. To add to my angst, I waited to reveal my anathema [truth] to my parents.
Haunted by guilt I never did such, acted carelessly or withheld information ever again. All that side, I wish to share, that from the time I was sixteen, until I was fifty three, I was a patient of the extremely conservative clinics known as Planned Parenthood. I used their services in Wisconsin, California, and Florida. At that time I left, I had given up my lifelong status as one of those well-hidden professional persons without health insurance, I acquired coverage and Planned Parenthood did not have an arrangement with my provider. For me, that was, and remains, a great sadness, for I had already learned through others experience that the quality of care and attention I had always received at Planned Parenthood was exceptional.
Indeed, Planned Parenthood did not solely address my reproductive needs. From blood pressure to breast cancer screenings, from pelvic examinations to heart health, there was not an issue related to my overall wellbeing that the staff at Planned Parenthood did not serve. I believe these Practitioners were the greatest “general” caregivers, I could have ever had.
As I shared, only once, before Planned Parenthood did I have unprotected sex. I never had a problem on the pill. I was monitored closely for decades, more so than since. An abortion was never a consideration. I never needed nay wanted one. The agency required that I study, beyond what I learned at home, the workings of body. Physicians and other Practitioners were exceedingly cautious. All taught me much.
Yes, it is true. Thirty-seven years with Planned Parenthood and never once did a Doctor, Nurse, or Staffer suggest an abortion. Why would they? With their guidance and protection none was needed.