Planned Parenthood is bad for babies. It’s the nation’s largest abortion provider, ending the lives of 332,757 unborn Americans in 2018. It isn’t just bad for babies, but also for women. Planned Parenthood covers up statutory rape, lies to women, leaves vulnerable women in abusive situations, and tells women that their lives are better without their babies and children.
I know all of this because I am one of the women who went to Planned Parenthood for help. Instead, I was further hurt at a time I was most vulnerable.
When I was in high school, I started going to Planned Parenthood for birth control and health care. I was open with them about my risk factors for birth control: primarily that I was smoking heavily, which increases the risk of stroke when combined with hormonal birth control. They didn’t reprimand me or warn me about the potential negative consequences of being a smoker on birth control.
I was honest with Planned Parenthood workers about the age gaps between me and my partners—gaps that put my relationships in violation of my state’s statutory rape laws. No Planned Parenthood worker ever asked me if I felt safe in these relationships (the answer would have been no) or reported them as a mandatory reporter. Nor did any of the practitioners tell me about the risks of having multiple partners. In failing to do so, they shirked their responsibility to me, a woman in need.
By providing me “health care” but not addressing the unsafe situations in my life, they did little to ensure I was actually healthy or cared for as a whole woman. With so much time spent defending Planned Parenthood and their “important” role in women’s health care, where is the care for girls like me?
Having birth control without any adults in my life knowing about it and having the ability to take myself for STD testing (also without parental knowledge or consent) didn’t make me safer. Instead, it allowed me a false sense of security. I thought I was protected from the worst consequences of the regular drugs and partying that offered nothing but empty joy and growing darkness for those involved.
To say this is a time of my life I’m not proud of would be an understatement of epic proportions. It’s hard to recognize myself in the choices I made then, in the things that seemed, if not acceptable, at least reasonable. The truth is, though, that risky behavior is just that: risky. That risk will eventually catch up to you no matter how hard you try to hide from it, in some way or another.
I got pregnant as a teenager. It shouldn’t have shocked me that I got pregnant, but at the time it really did. I expected birth control to protect me from that forever, and it didn’t. When I started telling the people around me that I was expecting a baby, looking for support to figure out the next step, most people told me I should have an abortion.
Many of the people pushing that believed their rhetoric about why it would be best for me: I was immature and had no career that could support a child. I was a well-known partier and problem person, and ill-equipped to settle down and be a stable parent. By the end of the first trimester, I was also single. How could I possibly hope to support a baby?
Friends and onlookers took me aside to tell me that I could just quietly end my pregnancy, move on with my life, and be a mother later on when I had things “figured out.” Or, if that idea made me too uncomfortable, I could just give my baby to some nice couple who had their lives together.
I didn’t have an abortion, and I didn’t choose adoption. My life had been a swirl of instability for many years. I had foolishly surrounded myself with people who said they loved me, but only wanted to use me. Keeping my baby was the first real step out of this, my first step toward valuing myself. When it was no longer just me, I had to stop making impulsive, irrational choices that felt good in the moment (or sometimes, awful in the moment), but led to vast amounts of pain in the longer term.
Becoming a mother saved me. It wasn’t instant perfection; leaving my old life wasn’t easy. To claim that would trivialize how hard it’s been. But making the choice to keep my child has been so worthwhile and healing.
Parenting and loving a child actually helped care for the person I was (and am) far more than anything Planned Parenthood ever offered. I felt valuable and nourished in a way that I hadn’t from people pushing abortion.
Women in these hard situations aren’t there because they enjoy it, but because they don’t recognize that they could be having relationships that are so much more. Our culture doesn’t sufficiently teach what good relationships look like, what bad relationships look like, and how to distinguish the two.
A good relationship is built on some simple and easy to distinguish characteristics that not everyone has been taught to look for:
- There is no domestic violence. Around one in 11 high school-aged girls, and one in 15 high school-aged boys, report they’ve been in a relationship that involves physical violence in the last year. I didn’t realize as a teenager that relationships could exist without physical violence. Internalizing that as an adult has reshaped how I view the interactions between men and women.
- Where partners are on an equal power level. Dating shouldn’t come with so many strings that one person is afraid or unable to leave. Dating isn’t a marriage, entered into ‘til death do you part. If one person controls the other or has undue influence, it’s not healthy. Relationships should never be built on control.
- Where sex isn’t the most important thing, especially as a teenager. Teenage relationships should be about learning and growing. Sexual activity in teens has been linked to depression and suicide risks, all other issues aside.
It is daunting to think of trying to get through to teens, especially those on rocky paths. The correct answer to helping them isn’t just abandoning them or hoping they’ll outgrow their rebellion without lasting damage.
Many times in my life the people around me could have stepped in and helped, but didn’t. The workers at Planned Parenthood should have intervened, for one. I don’t know if I would have graciously received it. In fact, it’s entirely possible I would have resisted.
But I was also a child, and that resistance would have been a childish insistence in staying in a negative situation, not a well-reasoned action. It was negligent for Planned Parenthood, and the adults around me, to let me keep making dangerous and foolish decisions for so long. Thank goodness I chose life, and found the strength to make a change.
Planned Parenthood claims to champion the cause of women just like the girl I used to be: on the fringe, in poverty, in need of “reproductive health care” services devoid of any judgment. But abortion-pushing Planned Parenthood workers are not helping women, they’re perpetuating the very patriarchy they so claim to hate: reducing women to just vessels for sex. Meaningless sex, without strings attached, long-term promises, or the very end result that sex is designed for biologically: children. We don’t lift up women by telling them that their success in life is built around relationships with men where they need to hop into bed before they’ve made a lasting commitment to one another.
It’s incredibly counterintuitive to tell women that true freedom is sex without consequences. Sexuality can be used for good, but putting women—especially vulnerable women—into a position where they barter their bodies and their sexuality for stability is wrong. If Planned Parenthood really cared about girls and women, they’d take care of them far better and stop idolizing sexuality and letting risky behavior slide.
Don’t be afraid to try, and keep trying. The women who are struggling most need you to keep offering help. Real help, away from danger, not perpetuating it like Planned Parenthood does.
The author is a regular Federalist contributor writing anonymously here due to the personal nature of her article.