I am writing this from two perspectives: a woman, and a recovering Catholic.
I should also get this out of the way: I don't think I could have an abortion. Partly because of my age (I'm getting at the age where getting pregnant can be pretty darned difficult) Plus since I was raised Catholic, I was taught abortion was a sin.
However, I've also learned that not everything is as black and white as it appears. Also be prepared that I'm going to be writing about woman stuff here, so you've been warned.
About fifteen years ago I was having bad menstrual problems, along with the fact I still had bad acne. I tried everything for the acne except for Accutane, but I heard so many people were having terrible problems with accutane's side effects I thought nope, sorry, can't do it. I did, however, hear good things about the Pill. Not only could it help my period problems, it could give me clear skin. Whoa mama! A twofer! Sign me up!
At the time I didn't have health insurance. I called my local Planned Parenthood and made an appointment. I got one for that week, easy peasy. That Saturday I walked up the steps, a bit nervous (I always get nervous before doctor's appointments) I checked in then proceeded to read the new People magazine.
After my exam and a counseling session, I had three months worth of pills plus instructions on how to take them. During my exam I had my breasts checked and a pap smear. The stirrups were warmed so it wouldn't be cold on my feet. On the ceiling was a Monet painting. Paps are never fun but it made it bearable. Because I qualified for low income, I didn't have to pay. I did put a ten in their donations jar.
Afterwards I walked outside to see a gray haired woman. "Where's your car? I need to escort you."
"The anti-abortion activists are out."
"But I was told no abortions were performed here." I knew the abortions were performed out in Concord; there had been big debates about it when they opened near several churches.
"It doesn't matter. Let me walk you."
She walked me to my mom's car. I saw several people with signs up front. I locked my door. It took all I could to not wind my window down and yell "Forgive me I want better periods and clear skin idiots!" I thought that might be too hostile.
The next couple of years while I didn't have health insurance I very much relied on Planned Parenthood. Even though they said I didn't have to pay I always made sure I donated some money. I had my breasts checked, I had paps, I made sure I was more or less healthy. It wasn't always easy. One time I made the mistake of making an appointment on the anniversary of Roe versus Wade, when bomb threats were made. It all was okay but it made me late for the writing group I was in at the time. When I arrived I told them what happened and one of them said "It could've been worse. You could've been in the stirrups when they made the threat."
One time I had such a bad flu I wasn't sure what to do. Fortunately Planned Parenthood could treat minor illnesses, so they gave me a prescription for penicillin. I walked out with the escort. That day there were priests there yelling "Miss! Don't kill your baby!"
"I have the flu," I said to the escort, "do they get the fact I don't have insurance and I need this medicine?"
"Don't talk to them," the escort said. "It won't do any good."
Mom started the car. I ducked my head down. I looked up to see a priest. He shook his head. Made the Sign of the Cross. And even though I hadn't been to church in years, I was so so ashamed.
Yet my skin was better, my periods were better. I recovered from my flu quickly, but what burned in my memory was the priest crossing himself. I always tried to be a "good girl." My mother even said once to an escort "You have to understand she's Catholic. She would never have an abortion."
"It doesn't matter. No one should be judged for coming here."
I took a break for two years, and the problems came back. I trooped over to Kaiser (now I had insurance) to see my ob-gyn, Dr. Wright. Got the pills, easy peasy. Skin cleared up again, periods were back to normal.
But to many people out there, I'm a slut. I'm a bad girl. I'm the hussy who wants to recover from a flu. I'm the jezabel who believes that every baby should be wanted and loved. My opinion that in order to prevent abortion, give women and men information for contraception can make me excommunicated from my church. I'm the whore who objects to Mitt Romney saying "Planned Parenthood? We'll get rid of that when I'm president."
I'm the floozy who wanted clear skin and better periods. I'm the loose woman who wanted medicine for the flu. I'm the good time girl who wanted to stay healthy, even though she didn't have insurance. I'm the scarlet woman who doesn't want to tell her employer why she takes birth control pills. Okay, I just wrote about it now, but here's the deal: I thought all Americans had the right to privacy. Or did I miss when that was changed in Mrs. Preston's eighth grade social studies class?
I'm a woman. I take birth control. I guess I'm a slut. Okay. Glad to know. I can add this to my other labels.
Someone can escort me to the car now.
Causes Jennifer Gibbons Supports
Gilda's Club, Greenpeace, Rosie's Broadway Kids,Westwind Foster Family Agency, Amber Brown Fund, Linda Duncan Fund for Contra Costa Libraries