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Friday, March 24, 2006

In praise of Planned Parenthood

Those of you who haven't seen Bitch Ph.D.'s post on the awesome proposal of Cecilia Fire Thunder, the President of the Oglala Sioux, to build a Planned Parenthood clinic on tribal land in South Dakota, beyond the jurisdiction of the state and its new anti-abortion laws, should check it out immediately. If reproductive rights are something that you care about, please consider making a donation.

I myself went to Planned Parenthood for the first time today, as my prescription for the pill is about to run out and I'm between doctors. I'd continued to see my old gynecologist in Grad School City after moving here three years ago, but as of January I'm no longer enrolled as a student; moreover, since I'm going to be moving again this summer, it just didn't make sense to try to find a new doctor locally. A birth-control consultation at Planned Parenthood is good for a six-month prescription (after which a full exam would be necessary), and it runs $40--more than a doctor's visit under my insurance plan, but only slightly more than train fare to Grad School City and much less time-intensive.

The facility that I went to, named after a famous early feminist, was busy when I arrived at 3 p.m.; nearly every chair in the outer waiting room was full (friends and family members can remain there after their loved ones have gone through the "patients only" door into other, much quieter waiting rooms). About a third of the patients were white, a third African-American, and a third Hispanic, and I was struck by how young everyone seemed--virtually no one looked to be much older than I, and most were probably in their early twenties. There was a pair of women with sweatshirts from the prestiguous university uptown and a woman with a massive psychology textbook propped up on her knees. Most of the patients had carefully blank expressions and were occupying themselves by reading magazines or sending text messages, but some looked anxious. The one older woman I saw--probably in her mid-forties, with a no-nonsense haircut and sensible shoes--looked as if she'd been crying for days.

I've always had a reflexive respect for Planned Parenthood and I've always been pro-choice (even if I have some uneasiness about abortion itself), but it wasn't until seeing a clinic in action and looking at the population that it served that I realized how vital an institution it really is, and how much I've taken my own access to reproductive care for granted. You'd better believe that it's going to be high on my list of charities in the years to come.

link | posted by La Lecturess at 9:25 PM |


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