Dear Planned Parenthood: I should have thanked you long ago for all you have given me. When I saw you in the news taking such a beating, I knew I had to write. While politicians slur you, spread false information about your services and funding, and try to take away women's access to you, I offer you my testimony with gratitude for the good life you have enabled me and countless other women.
Thank you for the birth control pills you gave me when I was 17. I didn't get much information at my Catholic school, but you explained everything I needed to know to avoid getting pregnant or diseased. I loved my high school boyfriend, and continued to date him through most of college, but he was not "the one." I thank you for keeping me from being a teen mother, for the fact that my first boyfriend is not the father of my children, and for allowing me to focus on my studies, run cross country for my university, and graduate with a double major.
Thank you for the birth control pills you gave me through my years in law school. I still remember your welcoming office in an old house near the campus. I met the love of my life in October of my first year, and I was glad to be protected from getting pregnant. My sweetheart and I graduated cum laude together -- just the two of us, no babies yet. We married four years later. I can't imagine how difficult it would have been to be new parents during law school. I might not have made it through. I am so grateful for my education, and for the fact that my relationship with my husband had time to grow and mature before we had children. I am thankful that we both had good jobs and a house before we welcomed the first of two children who were very much planned and wanted. I am grateful that our education allowed for salaries that have kept our children well fed, clothed and educated. They are now amazing teenagers, soon to embark on their own lives of love and career.
But I also want to thank you for something that social conservatives have been trying to make illegal because they can't separate church from state, not even for the health, welfare and future of women like me.
Thank you for legal abortion. When I was 42, I desperately wanted to have one more child to add to our family of 4. I got pregnant immediately, and soon discovered that I had two heartbeats in my belly, not just one. I was overwhelmed and scared, but thrilled. Unfortunately, in my third month, one heartbeat stopped. Then the other one stopped. I was devastated. I did not have a miscarriage, so I was scheduled for a D&C, which is known as an abortion when it terminates a pregnancy. Literally, it was the most painful thing I have experienced. For me, it was worse than childbirth. When people suggest that women use abortions as birth control, I know that nobody would choose this procedure routinely. The doctor sent some of the fetal tissue in to a lab to determine the cause of the failed pregnancy. I was shocked to learn that I had been carrying fetuses with severe genetic impairments that would have prevented them from living long or well outside the womb. Nature had done its job in stopping their tiny hearts. But what if their hearts kept beating into my second trimester? What if I had made it to the amniocentesis appointment that was scheduled for the next week? I would have chosen to terminate that pregnancy for the good of everyone concerned. Therefore, I am thankful to you, Planned Parenthood, for fighting all these years to maintain the right to safe, legal abortion.
Truly, words are not enough to express my gratitude. I joined other thankful Americans in the March for Women's Lives in our nation's capitol to express my support for you. I send you checks. I am sending you another contribution now. But I'll say it once more: Thank you, Planned Parenthood: for my health and happiness, my planned family, and for giving me access to a career so I can help others.
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