Faint shouts of “Come here!” and “Jesus loves you!” greeted me as I stood outside a Planned Parenthood clinic trying to assist a stranger. Like me, she had been in the waiting room for what seemed like ages. Her car wasn’t cranking, so I waited with her outside until help arrived.
Earlier, I was getting chilly in the waiting room, so I went to get a jacket from the car. The shouts from the protesters roused.
Scoffing a bit, I told them, “I love Jesus too! And I’m not here for an abortion.”
“Okay, good. Come on over here. Let us pray for you.”
I shook my head, exhaled and kept going. It would be a few weeks before I would marry my husband. Until then, I didn’t have proper medical insurance to get birth control. I use it for other reasons besides contraception.
After what felt like eons, a group of us were called back. There were several rows of small chairs facing a tiny television. We were asked to watch a video, and then (eventually) we would be seen by a doctor.
Then my confusion turned to fear. I was watching a video about about an abortion pill. The simplicity of the instructions frightened me.
Me, a pro-lifer, in the middle of this mix-up. The video ended and I scrambled back to the counter and said, “I’m in the wrong place. I’m just getting a pap!”
Some of us were shuffled into a smaller room with chairs and blankets. It reminded me of my mother’s chemotherapy treatment room ― small, a bit cramped and devoid of chatter or activity.
I looked around at the faces of the women around me and felt so scared for them. Most of them looked in their 20s, possibly late teens. And they were about to take one little pill to erase a “mistake.”
Flashbacks of a protest I attended as a teenager trickled back. I remembered the enlarged posters of aborted fetuses. (I couldn’t bring myself to hold one up.)
Someone gave me a book revealing the “truth” about Planned Parenthood. I tossed it in the back seat of my car but never read it.
Those thoughts drifted to the back of my brain. I blinked my eyes a few times and looked around. Everyone was gone except for me.
I had dozed off for who knows how long. 30 minutes? An hour? This would not bode well as I was supposed to be at work. I went back to the counter and, finally, I was seen by someone.
An anxiety disorder makes paps ridiculously painful and embarrassing. I remember the sound of the speculum clanking on the floor after the interminable test was done. My body physically rejected it.
Finally. Finally. I received birth control prescriptions and left the building.
The protesters were gone. They had done their work for the day, I suppose.
Several weeks later, the most perfect day of my life ― the day of our wedding ― came and went. I no longer needed PP for medication or check-ups and my life continued.
It wasn’t until I read about plans to defund Planned Parenthood did this memory push forward in my mind. I read stories about women having to resort to unwanted pregnancies or dangerous abortion procedures, because they couldn’t make it to a hospital.
I could see them ― overburdened, crying and in pain. The very idea was dreadful.
This is when I became anti-abortion, not pro-life.
Think about it, is there any one out there who is pro-abortion? Of course not.
If faced with an unbearable choice, I’d be more inclined to think about adoption. I do believe that life starts at conception.
More options is the answer, not restricted access. From my experience alone, I’d advocate for more funding for these types of clinics.
A woman should be able to select from different options when she’s pregnant. We are in the most powerful country in the world. Our women deserve choices.
Somehow, not even the phrase “pro-choice” encompasses everything I’m passionate about.
What happens if the child grows up in a poor home or an ill-kept foster home? What if a woman was raped, traumatized and pregnant?
What about their loved ones, who must help her pick up the pieces of her life? How could I say I’m truly “pro-life” if I don’t consider the other countless lives involved around the upbringing of this child?
Maybe if more “pro-lifers” went inside the clinic to volunteer instead of barking at patients outside, they’d understand.
Maybe if “pro-lifers” were focused on caring for women, they wouldn’t have voted for an ill-suited, misogynistic president-elect based on this one issue. (Yes, I am aware of people who voted for Trump just because Clinton is pro-choice. It doesn’t make sense.)
Saying #ImWithPP doesn’t make me any less of a Christian. Even though my experience was unpleasant, having the clinic really helped me.
I still think abortion should be the last resort for women. But my mission of faith extends beyond the womb. My soul is eager to embrace and support other women no matter their circumstances.