A couple of conversations I’ve had over the past couple months, plus the current Susan G. Komen / Planned Parenthood situation has me thinking a lot. I don’t really know where I’m going with this; just follow me.
My mom has been telling me this story since I was about 10 or 11 years old.
Sometime in the mid-80s, a 19 year old girl returned home from her freshman year of college pregnant. The father of said wee one was not a viable option for providing financial or moral support. The girl’s mother refused to even speak to her. Scared and feeling completely alone, she made an appointment at Planned Parenthood for an abortion. While she waited in the living room for a taxi to take her there, her mother broke down and begged her father to talk her out of it. He did — promising that though they were disappointed in her, they weren’t THAT disappointed, and any child of a child of theirs was a child of theirs. The mother called a quorum of friends to intervene and offer to adopt the unborn tot. The point was to get it through her head that there were plenty of options for her to get rid of this baby without getting rid of it’s whole life, and both she and her spawn could easily have the opportunity to fulfill their full lives’ potentials.
Of course, the 19-year-old tart was Big Edie herself, and the tiny embryo clinging precariously to the walls of her uterus was me. (The story was supposed to illustrate how much and how deeply I was wanted, even before I was anything to anyone — a concept I’ve struggled with for most of my life.) My hope is that by the time I’m 60, this tale will have evolved and become increasingly dramatic — my grandmother threw herself over the hood of the taxicab as it left the driveway. After a tearful argument, they followed my mom to the clinic where my grandfather wrestled the speculum from the doctor’s hands. Something involving my grandma punching a nurse in the face. I can totally animate this.
At any rate, I shared bits of it (the true parts) with a small group recently and was immediately asked to share my “survivor testimony” for some pro-life initiative. I have no intentions of doing anything of the sort. I never thought of it as a “testimony” as much as a funny/heartwarming(?)/somewhat-inappropriate-for-a-small-child family story. My fallopian-tube journey is my own, and I think mothers considering that decision have enough inner turmoil and self-doubt to worry about without a beautiful chocolate nymph in their faces trying to make them feel bad. I am sure my cherubic face evokes the same visceral reaction as an ultrasound image. I’m sure. And even though I am a very real, very direct benefactor of one person making the decision to not abort, I know that her circumstances are not everyone’s, and what worked for her may not work for every woman in a similar situation. I am glad beyond measure that her choice was pro-(my)life, and I am also glad that it was a choice.
Twenty-seven years later, I am a part-time worker with no health insurance, but I at least know that Planned Parenthood will help me manage my ladyparts at prices I can afford until I have coverage again. Now that my birth control stockpile has run out, I can get assistance there if sex ever becomes a feasible possibility in my life again. And I recently learned that PP can help me locate counseling services. I’ve been to their location on behalf of someone else (and lamented that it’s so circuitously hard to get to… with the sad realization that this is probably by design to protect employees’ safety.) I’ve donated to them and referred others to their services. Planned Parenthood never saved my life. In fact, it almost took it before I had the chance to know who I was. But I am still glad it exists. For everybody. Regardless of how they choose to use it.