April 8, 2011

Planned Family

As I've previously mentioned, I went to a Christian college. I was dating a nice Christian boy by the third month of my freshman year. I was friends with a married junior/senior (when I was freshman/sophomore) girl named Lisa, and I remember her advice: "If you're NOT going to Wait, put off getting married until it's practical. If you ARE going to Wait, get married early."

My parents approved of this advice. I got married halfway through my junior year of college. I turned 20 in time for the wedding.

Here was our first practical problem: we were both full-time students at a Christian college. We could get excellent health care through the Student Health Center for practically nothing---but they wouldn't prescribe birth control: it was a Christian college, and if you prescribe for SOME students, where do you draw the line? It's a slippery slope. So even married students couldn't get birth control. But we didn't have full-time jobs, nor were we still under our parents' care, so we didn't have any other options for health insurance.

I went to Planned Parenthood, because we'd heard they charged based on how much money we made. I worked part-time in the library and my husband worked part-time for the department he was majoring in, and so I paid something small, something like $40, which we could just barely afford, for the exam that checked me for breast cancer and Internal Feminine Cancers, and then I paid $5/month for birth control pills to keep me from getting pregnant before we'd finished our education.

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Fast-forward to late 2001. My husband and I had two children ages infant and nearly 3 years, and my husband lost his job: his company's main client was in the World Trade Center. With the lost job, of course, went our health insurance. I got a full-time job, but my earning power was low: I made $8/hour. At that income level, our family qualified for free government health insurance for the children, so we took it. Because I was working for $8/hour, Paul and I didn't qualify.

If we'd had another baby during this time, I and the baby would have been covered completely by the government. This was not a desirable state of life for us, despite the benefits, but my OB/GYN wouldn't prescribe the Pill without an office visit, and an office visit was significantly more than we could afford. So I went to Planned Parenthood.

Again, they decided our payment based on our income. They checked me for breast cancer and various Internal Female Cancers, and I paid $10/month for birth control pills. It would have been cheaper if I'd gotten pregnant and let the government pay for our lives, but that wasn't the way we wanted to play it.

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Paul is a contractor for a company that does government work, so if there is a government shut-down, Paul is out of a job. Because he's a contractor, he's not eligible for reimbursement when the bickering is over.

30 comments:

Lola said...

It's amazing how much shit Planned Parenthood takes. Thanks for so eloquently relating your experience.

L said...

I can't imagine the stress. For me it's just a talking point. For you guys it's your livelihood. In my imagination, it would feel like such a betrayal by the gov't. Like they really are as bad as people say they are, and the optimists among as are just fools for believing otherwise. Depressing, but I am stilltrying to believe they are just jerking everyone around and it won't happen.

Groovymarlin said...

I am so with you. When I was just out of college, and didn't have health insurance yet, I frequently used Planned Parenthood - for my annual GYN exam, to get birth control, etc. Abortion is such a tiny percentage of what they do, and yet it gets all the attention. But I bet you even if they stopped providing abortion all together they'd STILL get crap from the right-wing freaks in Congress (and the country at large) who think women (and men) shouldn't have access to birth control.

Anyway, my husband and I are both federal contractors. This shutdown (if it happens) could hurt us a lot.

Pretty pathetic situation overall.

Devan said...

I too went to Planned Parenthood in college. I paid $5 for bc pills and, if I recall correctly, the screening tests were free. For someone with NO insurance, a measly part time, after school job and no desire to have a baby just yet - it was a life saver.

Marie Green said...

I can't even WATCH it all go down right now, and I'm staying away from twitter, because I didn't sleep well last night and I need to sleep well tonight. But I wanted to correct you, dear Swistle: EVERYONE KNOWS that Planned Parenthood = ABORTIONS. They perform them by the minute, all while whooping and hollering and having a BIG OL' PARTY about killing babies. And then when your abortion is complete, they proudly engrave your name on a plaque for the waiting room. Frankly, I'm surprised you didn't NOTICE all the celebrating and plaques during your visits.

(Shoot me now.)

(I also used planned parenthood in college and as Young Marrieds.)

Marie Green said...

And the part about Paul's job left a pit in my stomach. I'll be thinking of you often... and hoping for the best.

Tina G said...

If it weren't for Planned Parenthood, I might have had a few kids before age 18. Completely UN-planned and unwanted. And I would have been homeless, too because my mother would have thrown me out. Oh, and I would have needed welfare too. But since there WAS a PP in my town, I got cheap birth control and all of the above was PREVENTED- with a happy ending to boot.

Slim said...

The whole "money is fungible" argument makes me crazy. In that case, why provide funding for anything? With the money AFDC gives them, maybe mothers are paying for abortions. Maybe college students are putting their Pell grants towards illegal drugs.
Planned Parenthood scraped cells off my cervix when I couldn't afford to have anyone else do it. It wasn't a party, but I am grateful to them all the same.

Ashley said...

Planned Parenthood is a lifesaver. Abortion is a red herring topic: think of all the lives of babies that ARE saved and enriched because PP helps the parents be parents when they are READY.

I'm 26, married, and with one special and very much wanted child. We got him when we wanted him and when we were ready. I've always used Planned Parenthood for birth control. In one state, I got the NuvaRing for $20. Now we live in another state and make much, much less. I can get my birth control and reproductive exams for free--my only form of health care right now.

Planned Parenthood does A LOT of good. I'm so sad they've taken so much flack lately.

The looming shutdown scares me. But it's a very clever plan by the GOP: complain that the government doesn't work, then force it to really stop working, and there you have it--proof that it doesn't work! Makes tons of sense.

ssm said...

I want to say something meaningful and deep in response to this post, but I can't think of anything. What's happening right now with the government makes me cry. Thanks for standing up and showing people that PP is not evil, not by a long shot.

Sarah said...

It really irks me that so many insurance companies won't pay a penny towards birth control even though PREVENTION of pregnancy would be so much cheaper for them than A CHILD would be. Our insurance company never paid towards my birth control when I was using it.
And I too think PP gets an unfortunate rap... I'm pretty sure they're who my sister first went to when she was pregnant, and they provided a free ultrasound, and supported her completely when she said she wanted to have the baby.

SheLikesToTravel said...

It sounds like they reached an agreement!!!

Christina said...

Good news, Swistle!

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/42467884/ns/politics-capitol_hill/

Ashley said...

Thank goodness.

bluedaisy said...

Any good that Planned Parenthood does is overshadowed by the abortion issue. Think of all they do with STD testing!
Glad to hear that a job crisis has been averted- hopefully that news is accurate. We are living off unemployment right now so I understand your fears!

Maggie said...

Well I'm late to this but during grad school PP ensured I could afford birth control and was the only reason I could get atypical cells removed from my cervix. But who cares if they help poor women avoid cancer?? They also do abortions! I have to go clutch my pearls now.

Stimey said...

Right? Alex is also a federal employee. This whole thing makes me so mad. And I'm with you on the Planned Parenthood thing. They do so much good.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

GO Swistle!

I want to march right over to DC (I'm not that far! It'd take about an hour!), bring my laptop and shove this post in the faces (Down the throats? Up the a$$es?) of every lawmaker I can find.

I am incensed and disgusted by the shutdown mess and the fixation on PP.

(I too found PP a lifesaver at several times in my life. They found my precancerous cervical cells when I had no health insurance. They scraped them off and barely charged me a thing. They gave me birth control I could afford and kept me from having babies with men who.... I am so glad they aren't in my life in any way any more. They are a lifesaver in so many ways.)

CARRIE said...

Why can't reasonable people like you be legislators?

Annie Pazoo said...

Thank you SO much for this, Swistle. Not only did I use (and need) Planned Parenthood for ob/gyn care and birth control when I was young, but I also work for a government contractor for a 'non-essential' project so will be out of work (and out of pay) if there is a shutdown. So grateful that it looks like it's been averted. So grateful that Planned Parenthood exists.

Jill said...

I guess my problem with this argument is that you say it would have been cheaper to let the government pay, but that you didn't want to do that, you wanted to use Planned Parenthood. The argument in Congress is that the government is funding Planned Parenthood, so it's kind of the same thing, right?
I was lucky in that my college actually had birth control for dirt cheap so I never had to use the Planned Parenthood route, because I could get it at school for $10 a month. And condoms were constantly on display at the health center for free pickup.
All that said, the threat of a shutdown because the two sides couldn't get their stuff together when this was supposed to be passed over 6 *months* ago was completely ridiculous.
We are a military family living paycheck to paycheck, so if the government had shut down my husband would still have had to go to work (and by work I mean be out to sea for months at a time) but we would have been reimbursed eventually. Other services, like my current prenatal care, were less certain. But hey, at least they "passed a historic measure!" (snort) and avoided this mess. At least until the debate over raising the debt limit starts....

Fran said...

I used Planned Parenthood in college as well. I think I paid $25 and they sent me home with a paper bag full of various contraceptives including a year's worth of pills. I am very grateful to them for offering such a service!
Before I went to them I had paid $25 a month for my prescription pills. I remember having to save up all month for it. My sweet parents (who did not know) gave me a $20 when I came home for the weekend. It was all they could afford.

Swistle said...

Jill- Oh, yes, I see your point: Planned Parenthood is partially supported by government funding, so I was still partially using government services. But what I meant was that I didn't want the government to have to support me and a baby and the full cost of our health care (which they would have done willingly and in full)---a significantly larger and more long-term cost than the price of partially funding the prevention of that situation (which I could pay partially, and other non-government sources also funded partially, in addition to partial government funding). (Goodness, do you think I could find a way to say partial/partially again?)

Jill said...

I see that I misread part of that, not quite understanding you meant government funding of the whole kit and caboodle vs just the birth control part of it. That makes more sense.

Kelsey said...

I went to bed so worried about this (on Friday) and was so relieved to wake up and find that there was at least a temporary "fix."

The public argument over Planned Parenthood is so often unbalanced - thank you for sharing your experiences so frankly.

Misty said...

I'm glad Planned Parenthood was able to help you. Equally, I hope it is around to help so many other people when they need it.

I literally took the day off work on Friday to hide from the internet, the political stupidity was getting to me so much.

Thank you for saying this. I hope those who would throw the proverbial baby out with the bath water are listening.

wildprecious.net said...

and this is why we ALL NEED PP in our lives. for gods sake, abortion is less than three percent of what they do. its time to CALM DOWN. also, the whole trusting women thing would be nice.

Amanda said...

@wildprecious.net Trust WOMEN you say? Oy they're the ones who get themselves pregnant in the first place.

^ total sarcasm

Swistle said...

Amanda- Ha ha! You totally got me! I was like, "DELETE DELETE RED ALERT DELETE!!" and then realized!

Jenny (Bring A. Torch) said...

As a large lady, Planned Parenthood is the only place I've ever been that's had size-appropriate robes and equipment.

You kick ass for a million reasons, but especially for having the guts to post this.