One afternoon when I was in my early 20s living in Florida, I stared down in disbelief at a positive pregnancy test in my bathroom. I had been on birth control for years, but as we all know, no method is 100% effective.
I knew the right thing for me to do at that time in my life was to get an abortion. Yes, my partner and I were in love; yes, I was working. But I knew that I couldn’t raise a child thousands of miles away from my family on my retail salary, and as much as I loved him, I knew there was no guarantee my partner and I would be together forever. (Spoiler alert: We are no longer together)
My first phone call was to my gynecologist; but when I called the office and asked for recommendations for abortion services in the area, the nurse said briskly “Dr. XXX will not help you with such a thing.” I was shocked: all I had wanted was a better idea of my options in the area.
After I discovered that an abortion at the nearest provider would cost as much as my monthly rent, I remembered seeing a sign by campus that read “Pregnant? Need help?” and made a point to stop by the advertised “health center” on my way to work the next morning, thinking they could help me figure out the logistics of getting an abortion in the area.
After being offered a free pregnancy test, an employee at the “health center” sat me down in a room and began asking me details about my personal life, including uncomfortable questions about my parents, religion, childhood, and partner. When I let her know that I was there for assistance with getting an abortion, she turned those personal anecdotes against me: “How would your parents feel about this?” “What do you think God thinks about it?”
These are words I still remember a decade later because they were so jarring. This was the moment that I realized she didn’t want to help me at all. Instead, I received a lecture about what she felt my religion told me to do, and she described single parenthood or adoption as my only “true” options. Here I was, trying to make the responsible decision for myself. Instead, I encountered judgment and manipulation at a place that told me they would help me.
Thankfully, it dawned on me days later to call my health insurance company and ask where I could receive abortion care covered by them. It required me to drive two and a half hours to a health center in central Florida, but it was hundreds of dollars cheaper.
Even though I was young and naïve, I know that I am lucky because I had health insurance, a plan that respected my needs, a car & funds to drive hours away, and a job that allowed me a day off.
What makes me the most angry is that the crisis pregnancy center tried to take advantage of my situation and force me into a decision that was not best for me. By posing as a pregnancy clinic, they tricked me into coming for a consultation, even though they could not give me any medical advice or services – only pontificate their ideas.
My local Planned Parenthood, which did not provide abortion services but could counsel and assist me with my available options, would have saved me from this traumatic experience if only I had known about them. This is why Planned Parenthood is important to me – they deserve the funding and respect for all they provide to millions of patients. On the other hand, crisis pregnancy centers are sham institutions wasting federal dollars.
I volunteer for Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington, DC now because I feel more people should know about what Planned Parenthood does. Had I known about Planned Parenthood, I wouldn’t have gone to the CPC, and would have gotten all the information I needed sooner.