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Jennifer Ketcham Headshot

To Planned Parenthood, With Love

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Hey there, Planned Parenthood, it's me, Jennie Ketcham. I know I only see you once or twice a year, once for my pap and twice for contraceptives, but I wanted to let you know I'm thinking of you. It seems you're everywhere today, and I must admit I'm a bit confused. Did the House really vote to defund your wonderfully generous program? I have a few questions Planned Parenthood, if you wouldn't mind answering them, but first I'd like to stroll down memory lane and recount all the good times we've had together.

Remember when we first met? I was 14 and afraid to tell my family doctor that I was having sex, so Kerri and I took a train and a bus just to visit you. We didn't have appointments, but you saw how afraid we looked. Remember you sent both Kerri and me to see the nurse together? We were still so nervous when that nurse walked in, but she put us at ease. She even handed us condoms and asked if we knew how to use them, and we always thought we did, but that abstinence-only program doesn't really prepare you for real life, so I'm thankful you helped us out. We both set up appointments and I've seen you every year since. Some years I can give you more money than others, but you never judge me for being broke, you never send me a follow-up bill, you never ask any questions other than the ones pertinent to my health.

Remember my first breast exam? Remember my first pap? Remember how I said I feel more comfortable in your facility run specifically for women than any Kaiser or John Muir or local "free clinic?" The free clinics feel so hostile. But you, Planned Parenthood, you taught me all there is to know about safe sex while making me feel welcome and safe. You've kept me healthy all these years. You even gave me my first HIV test. And you never asked for more than I could give.

I hear now John Boehner wants to defund and shut you down because he thinks all you care about is abortion. Does he know that low-income women have few to no options when it comes to health care? Does he know that by educating and providing this service for low-income women we can actually change their social status and class? Does he know that if women can't get contraceptives and condoms from you, if they can't receive the cervical cancer screenings or HIV tests, they may end up depending on this country for far more than the 75 million dollars he thinks he can save? And does he know how expensive HIV medication is? How expensive children are? I wonder if he has a daughter -- if she comes to see you as well because she has a hard time talking to Dad.

Planned Parenthood, I am especially worried about this Boehner guy because there are reports about him meeting with the Christian Broadcasting Network. And they would love to see you die -- ironic considering their stance on organisms growing inside women. Isn't there a problem when you think of a little phrase about separation of church and state? Isn't he on the state side? Isn't he inserting his church side? I bet if he had come to see you, Planned Parenthood, he'd have learned more about "safe insertions."

I guess what I'm trying to say is I'm afraid for you Planned Parenthood, and every woman you've ever helped, which is pretty much all of us. You've meant a lot to me over the years, and I would be really sad to see you go. In fact, I'd fight to help you stay. Because you are a big reason of why I am alive and healthy today, and why I trust that I will be alive and healthy tomorrow.

So how about we make a deal? You tell me how I can help you, and I will do it. You tell me how to fight for your right to exist, and I will do it. You tell me how to help keep you alive, like you've helped keep me alive, and I will do it.

With Love,
Jennie Ketcham