When I was a freshman in college I fell head over heels in love! I had never had a serious relationship before, so I was very inexperienced. Luckily the object of my love was a good person; we agreed from the beginning that we would take it slow, and that all the decisions about the relationship would be made from a place of mutual respect. That is how, several months later, we found ourselves at Planned Parenthood. Unbeknownst to us, the law at that time made it illegal to provide birth control services to anybody under the age of 21. We were momentarily stymied by this news, until the receptionist offered to make an appointment for us to talk to a social worker. We returned for that appointment and had a deep and affirming conversation with her. At the end, she told us that she was so impressed by the way we cared for each other, and how careful we were about each other’s feelings. She said, “I have a good feeling about your relationship. I am going to approve you for an exception and allow you to get your birth control prescribed.”
It turns out she, was right about the nature of our relationship. We recently celebrated our 34th wedding anniversary. We have navigated college and careers and parenthood and all kinds of ups and downs. We are now very much enjoying grandparenthood. What was extraordinary about that experience was not so much how accurately the Social Worker intuited the nature of our relationship it was how she treated us. She took us seriously, she let us know that she believed we were inherently worthy and good people, she extended us dignity and respect. Her decision allowed us to get off to a good start on a very long-term relationship.
Back then I had no idea that someday I would be an ordained minister. I had no idea that I would be sermonizing about sexual ethics, or that I would find myself teaching classes on healthy, faith-based human sexuality. In our sexuality education curriculum, called OWL (Our Whole Lives) we emphasize decision making based on love, respect, and responsibility. As I went through the initial training for OWL, I remembered with appreciation that the first place I learned about those values was at Planned Parenthood.
As a Unitarian Universalist, I am called by my faith to recognize the inherent worth and dignity of every person. I am called to relationships based on empathy and compassion. And I am called to communicate to our children and youth that healthy relationships are always based on mutuality. I share these values with Planned Parenthood.
I appreciate the fact that Planned Parenthood has been treating women and families with dignity and respect since 1916. Planned Parenthood recognizes that healthy women are the foundation of healthy families, and healthy families are the foundation of healthy communities. Planned Parenthood provides education, health screening, and reproductive health services to women.
As a care receiver, I was grateful to Planned Parenthood for getting my relationship with my one and only true love started in a healthy way. As a woman I am grateful to Planned Parenthood for all that they do to teach, inform, and serve women in all kinds of circumstances. And as a minister I am grateful to Planned Parenthood for providing health care grounded in the values of human dignity, ethical decision making, and mutual respect and responsibility.