Prior to going to medical school, I worked part-time as a nurse practitioner for Planned Parenthood with a kind, caring, and responsible group of women. We provided counseling and classes on various contraceptive methods, basic gynecologic care, pregnancy and STD testing, and private counseling for abortions.
Women of all types came in, some religious, some not. I still remember that one Saturday some Catholic girls protested outside our clinic, then several days later a few of them came in for birth control and pregnancy testing. They had been too ashamed to admit they needed help from our clinic.
In my years working there, I saw girls as young as 11 pregnant and desperate for help. I saw pregnancies due to incest and rape. I wondered what these young women would do if they had to carry to term a pregnancy they didn’t want and emotionally couldn’t support. Having become a parent at age 35 with a good job and a husband, I know that raising a child is not easy even under good circumstances.
I saw women go through abortions and saw how difficult the decision was for them. It was not a choice they made quickly. Support helped them get through it. Once, I held the hand of a friend and coworker as she had a safe, legal abortion. She knew she was not ready to be a mother, financially or emotionally. I saw this over and over in my work for Planned Parenthood—work done to help all women, regardless of race or religion, work done with compassion and without judgement.
I never thought I’d see the day when the choice of a safe, legal abortion, a very private decision, would be taken away from women in our country. The first thing I thought of was my two daughters and how it would affect them. I was scared for them and watched as they both cried over the news. Then I thought about all the women in states where abortion is now not legal, and the impact it would have. How would poverty affect their decisions, perhaps taking away their option to go to another state for an abortion if they chose to have one? What would happen to women unprepared to be mothers who bore unwanted children? What would be the long-term effects?
I am sad and angry that politics are involved in a decision that is best left between a woman and her health-care provider. I am disgusted by it, in fact. Our country has taken a turn for the worse as I look at the future of young women all over. Their voice and choice have been taken away from them.