Patient Focus: A Helping Hand, Meet Patricia:"I was 18, and in college, three hours away from home. I had just become sexually active with a guy that I was head over heels in love with. I knew that as a sexually active adult I needed to get a pelvic exam and I wanted to get on birth control pills as a back-up for our condom use. Also, I had never been very regular in my cycle and at 18 was starting to worry about that a little bit. My first thought was to go to the college clinic, but when I asked my friends about it I heard some pretty scary stories. Apparently there was only one woman on the staff, and she was booked solid for the whole year. I heard tales of girls being treated dismissively by the male doctors on staff, and of cold metal instruments that were painful or at least unpleasant. It was my FIRST pelvic exam, and I was terrified.
I called Planned Parenthood, and they were very warm and welcoming. When I explained that it was my first time, they were sympathetic and supportive, and worked my appointment in quickly. The women there were friendly and talked about what to expect and gave me excellent information about the kinds of options I had. The exam itself was not traumatic. I was lucky to have a good first experience.
Through PP, I was able to get simple wellness care, with a warm and supportive staff. I was able to get birth control pills so that I could regulate my menstrual period (for the first time in my LIFE) and provide back-up for the condom use. I was able to do all of this well within my budget, because I was a college student and they were able to give me a reasonable rate on fees and pills.
Because of my excellent first experience, I made sure that all of my friends went and got a regular pelvic exam. I reassured younger girls (and older ones who had been too scared or embarrassed to go) that an exam was not scary, that it was brief and not a big deal. I have always recommended Planned Parenthood to anyone who needed their medical services.
I have never had an abortion. I have never even known anyone who had an abortion at a Planned Parenthood clinic. But I know dozens of women who rely upon Planned Parenthood for their basic medical well-being. When I lost my insurance, I went back to a Planned Parenthood in my hometown. Once again, the service there was warm, welcoming, and supportive. I've been having my yearly women's wellness exam there for some time now.
I'm 36 years old, and very recently married, for the first time. I am very grateful to Planned Parenthood for giving me good education about pregnancy prevention, and therefore preventing me from having an unintended pregnancy.
Please, Please, give young women the right kinds of opportunities for necessary medical care at a price that they can afford! Don't take away a warm and friendly choice from a scared 18 year old, forcing her to go to a clinic with cold doctors and cold instruments! Such a girl might choose NOT to get the care she needs instead, potentially causing her untold harm."
St. Louis, MO