Open Letters to Senator Cory Gardner- round 2

As promised, and with plenty of snark, here is the letter I wrote to Senator Cory Gardner about my experience at Planned Parenthood.

Dear Senator Cory Gardner,

      I’m taking time to write this letter to implore you to please listen to your constituents and protect women’s healthcare, and by that I mean protect Planned Parenthood. First question: Do you have any idea how ridiculous it is that we women have to write letters to a bunch of old men begging them not to make changes that drastically restrict access to healthcare and contraception. That’s mostly a rhetorical question, but the answer is that it’s really bloody ridiculous. (See what I did there? Period joke.)

I did not have health insurance for substantial part of my early twenties because I could not afford it. This was before the Affordable Care Act, of course. I went a very long time without a Pap exam or any kind of routine check-up. I didn’t have great access to contraception either. Sure, condoms are fine, but surely you know that women use birth control to address other health issues. Oh, you didn’t know that? I thought you and your Republican boys club were the experts? Well, I have Endometriosis. It’s mild, thank goodness, but birth control keeps it under control. That way, my whole mid-section doesn’t feel like it’s wrapped in barbed wire when I get my period. I was also diagnosed with P.M.D.D. (Pre-Menstrual Dysphoric Disorder) at one point in my life. Certain birth control pills help regulate moods, so women don’t contemplate suicide for about 4 days of every month. I’m not saying that to be crass or insensitive; I’m saying it because that’s what I went through.

I don’t know if you know what it’s like to not have health insurance, but it’s basically okay until it’s really really not okay. For a while, things were going fine. I mean, my periods were awful, and my moods were in the dumps, but at least it was regular. That is, until they weren’t. My periods started getting really erratic. I would bleed at random times during the month. And not just a little bit. I was bleeding a lot. My mood swings were so bad that I had to leave work on several occasions. I was young, broke, and scared. My body and my brain were completely betraying me. I called a low-cost clinic in my area, and they couldn’t see me for weeks. Then I called Planned Parenthood. They could see me the next day.

The Planned Parenthood staff was more attentive and caring than any doctor’s office I had ever been to. They listened to my concerns, and offered solutions. I was able to get a routine exam and easy, affordable access to birth control to get my body and mind back on track. When I found myself in a long-term relationship a year or so later, they were there to counsel me when I was thinking about other birth control options.

Let’s be real, Cory. Abstinence is not realistic for twenty-somethings. No matter how hard you believe it, it doesn’t make it so. You fiscal conservatives, don’t want to pay for the kids we don’t want and can’t afford, so you can at least help us out with an IUD and some pills, don’t you think?

I have friends who have been raped. I have friends who have found themselves with an unplanned pregnancy. The local clinics you and your colleagues would rather see money be funneled to couldn’t help me, they couldn’t help my friends, but Planned Parenthood could. Planned Parenthood is not a place that rips babies from the womb and tosses them in the dumpster as you and your Republican friends have brainwashed people to believe. It is a healthcare facility where women have access to routine exams they may otherwise not have access to, and where they can get contraception for whatever reason they need it. It is a safe place where women can be counseled as they make difficult decisions.

I’m sure you’re getting squirmy about that unplanned pregnancy thing. Let’s discuss this. Women do not make decisions like this all willy-nilly like. It’s hard. If you and your Republican pals were actually “pro-life,” you would vote differently on basically everything. I will never believe you’re “pro-life.” You are pro-fetus, and you’re anti-choice. Until your voting record changes, you will not convince me otherwise. If we lived in a country that supported kids after they leave the womb, regardless of the circumstance they’re born into, maybe some women wouldn’t feel like abortion is their only option. No matter a woman’s reason for her decision, it is her’s to make. Your religion has no place in legislation about women’s healthcare.

Final question, Cory: What do you think will happen if you take away a place where women can receive affordable routine exams, contraception, and family planning counseling? The answer isn’t hard. You can get there with common sense. You have that, right? I sure hope so, Cory. The answer should be a problem for someone who says they’re a fiscal conservative.

Please make good choices, so women are able to make choices at all. Your constituents are watching, and we are all waiting for 2020 if you continue to turn your back on us.

Sincerely,

Whitney B.

Not a paid protester

Denver, CO

               P.S. If any of this was too graphic for you, it might be a good indication, that you are not the authority on the female reproductive system or the care of it. Leave it to the ladies. We can handle this.

 

 

Open Letters to Senator Cory Gardner- round 1

I promised a couple of weeks ago that I would post the letter I wrote to Senator Cory Gardner about my experience at Planned Parenthood. Since I have no idea if Cory Gardner reads his letters or if he can read at all (ok fine, I’m sure he can read), I thought I’d make it public.

I think it’s important that women share their stories. It’s important that women know they aren’t alone. This is why I am incredibly grateful that a friend of mine wanted to share her letter here, as well.

Because I’m polite and stuff– guests first. I’ll post mine tomorrow. Please show this the respect it deserves.

To Whom it May Concern,

My name is Rachael, I am 37 years old, and I support Planned Parenthood. When I was 16 years old, I became pregnant. While I felt that I was old enough to have sex, I was not comfortable having a conversation about sex-and I bet my boyfriend at the time was not comfortable buying condoms. I will never forget the day my mother confronted me and asked if I could be pregnant. Up to this point, I was never in trouble; I did well in school and was always home before curfew. I still feel disappointment in myself when I think of my father purchasing a pregnancy test for his 16 year old daughter-20 years later I am still disappointed in myself. I remember sitting in the bathroom as the test turned positive immediately; I sat there the full 15 minutes hoping that it would somehow turn negative-thinking somehow I was not really pregnant. I remember the conversation with my parents when they asked me what I wanted to do. My mother let me know if I choose to have the baby, I would still finish high school-it would not be an option to drop out. My parents will help me raise the child as I finished school, if I choose the option. For me, having the child was not an option. Not only did I want to finish high school, I wanted to go to college. I wanted to do more than my parents did.

Walking into Planned Parenthood I felt that I would be judged. I looked around the waiting room and felt that the others were looking at me and judging me-judging me for being so young and pregnant. I remember watching a video with another young woman and thinking she must be in college. I remember her looking at me with sadness in her eyes and saying,” Well, this doesn’t look so bad”. I remember the procedure and crying the entire time while a worker of Planned Parenthood held my hand through the entire procedure. I ran into that woman months later at the grocery store I worked for and she introduced me to her son who was developmentally disabled. I remember the compassion in her eyes as she talked to me. I will never forget her. I hope she knows how thankful I am to her.

I still feel guilty to this day. There are times that I stop to do the math; today I could have a 19 year old child; I could have a child that is in college. I wonder what my life would have been like if I had given birth. I have to wonder if I would have even gone to college, if I would still be on food stamps now because I am not able to work a high paying job-and I definitely would have been a single mother. The father and I were no longer together when I had the abortion. I wonder if I would have had a daughter, and if she would have gotten pregnant at 16 as I did, and as my mother did. I still hold the regret to this day, and I feel ashamed for what happened.

For many women, the choice to get an abortion is not an easy one. It never crosses our mind that abortions can be an alternative form of birth control. For many, there is a reason why we choose to terminate a pregnancy. After I terminated my pregnancy, I graduated high school, went to college, and have earned two Master’s Degrees. I was able to purchase a condo in just my name, and have a stable job where I get to help people. I am not sure I would be able to accomplish all of this as a single mother.

Unfortunately, there is very little support for young mothers, and for single parents. There is a lot of talk that every child is a wanted child, but Republicans are cutting programs that help children. They are trying to push legislation in which any person on welfare would have to submit to random drug testing. Based on the Republican agenda, not every child is a wanted child.

I am 37 years old and am facing a time where I may lose my right to choose. I am faced with a time where birth control may no longer be affordable to me. I am scared of what the future holds for me, and I wonder if I need to tie my tubes as that may be the only available birth control option under this administration. I no longer feel that my government is working to protect my freedoms. For the first time in 37 years, I feel less than my male counterparts. I understand there are others that are morally opposed to birth control; these individuals feel this goes against God. I respect their beliefs and wish they would respect my beliefs. They do not have to agree with my decisions, nor do they need to make the same decision. But please let me make that decision for myself. Also, trying to shut down Planned Parenthood does not mean abortions with stop. Abortions will still happen, but they will be more dangerous. Women will be putting their life in danger to terminate a pregnancy. Remember, abortions were not legal in the 1950s-but women still had them. By working to shut down Planned Parenthood, women will take dangerous means to terminate their pregnancy. For every woman that dies from an illegal abortion, their blood will be on your hands and God will see this. God will judge you, and will see your sin.

I implore this administration to separate their religious views, and their personal views, from law. Please allow us the right to choose. It is not your place to make the decision, nor is it your place to judge-please let God do that.

I support a woman’s right to choose. Do you?

Sincerely,

Rachael M.

Public school is the bees knees!

In light of Betsy DeVos (an unqualified non-advocate for public education) being confirmed as the new Secretary of Education, I felt it important to talk about both my public school experience and my private school experience.  I’ve had both, and guess which experience has been a greater influence on my development as a whole.

Hint: It wasn’t the one my parents paid money for.

I attended a private Lutheran school from kindergarten through 8th grade. I started reading at about 3 years old, and my parents thought that putting in public school might hinder me academically. Maybe they were right about that. I did start high school about a year ahead of everyone, particularly in English and grammar. I read Romeo & Juliet, Hamlet, Of Mice and Men, To Kill a Mockingbird, and The Great Gatsby in 7th and 8th grade. I ended up reading them again in high school. I was able to take plenty of music classes in Lutheran School, and I was even in the school band starting in 5th grade. These are valuable experiences. I won’t diminish that.

But what about the other stuff I learned in Lutheran school.

Every lesson was served with a side of Jesus. We had Christian based science books, and Evolution as a THEORY was emphasized big time. We were right and everyone else was
wrong, and Martin Luther sure did stick it to those Catholics lcms-sealwith his 95 Theses. Reformation Day is basically a holiday in the Lutheran Church, or at least in the LCMS Lutheran Church.

 

By the way, pre-marital sex will probably kill you because you’ll certainly get a terrible incurable disease or your abortion will present dire complications that you can’t recover from. If you don’t die, you’ll at least be infertile. And just to ice that Cake o’ Salvation, gay people should not act on their urges, and if you commit suicide, prepare for eternal damnation.

Once, at the end of the day during closing prayer time, my 7th grade home room teacher went on a rant about how awful Will & Grace was because of all the gay characters, and I stood there feeling like a filthy sinner because I fucking loved that show.

It’s an uplifting way to come up in the world. I think it goes without saying that being taught these things at all of the most impressionable times of your life can give you a complex about some stuff undeserving of a complex. If there’s a problem in your life, you might start to think maybe you’re not worshipping right or believing hard enough. When I was a kid—probably 9 or 10—my dad asked me what I thought he and my mother could do to help them get along. First off all, I have no idea why my dad thought it was a good idea to seek advice from his 4th grader, but I guess he got what anyone seeking free advice from a completely unqualified source should get—utter horseshit. My response was that they didn’t have Jesus at the center of their marriage. What the actual fuck was I talking about? What does that even mean? I didn’t know. Their actual problems were obviously more tangible the the Son of God’s presence.

I hung on to religion for a while when I left my Lutheran K-8 experience to attend public high school. But as I got further into high school, I started to realize that so much of what I had been taught was actually…umm…bullshit. I met people who weren’t white, conservative, and Lutheran. I had gay friends who were adored by the whole class instead of bullied for liking Britney Spears (you bet that happened at Lutheran school). I had friends who were Buddhist, Mormon, Catholic or had no faith at all, and it didn’t matter. Granted, I went to high school in Arvada, Colorado, which isn’t exactly the most diverse place in the country. It was like a diversity starter pack. Still a lot white, and plenty conservative, but it was definitely more than I had been exposed to before in my little Lutheran bubble for 9 years.

Remember those books I read in middle school and read again in high school? I hated them when I read them the first time. I actually liked them the second time around because I had teachers who wanted us to know and connect with all of the themes of the books we were reading. Assigning a book to read just for the sake of reading it is useless. In middle school, I had worksheets with fill-in-the-blank questions. In high school, I had a connection to literature, and I understood it on a deeper level. It didn’t matter that I had read these books before; I hadn’t really experienced them on any meaningful level.

I was able to seek out actual education about sex and contraception. I wouldn’t need to put that information to use for a while (late-bloomer), but I was sure prepared when the time came. I learned about the religions of the world in a completely objective way. It gave me room to come to my own conclusions. I sang in choirs and was able to explore the music of the world, both old and new, secular and religious. My friends who were in Theater performed in plays that were socially important and artistically impactful. In Lutheran school, we were restricted to plays musicals about how cool Jesus is, and the music was legitimately terrible.

Right before school let out for summer my Junior year, a young man (I say that now, but at the time, I was completely enamored with this mature, intelligent, charismatic college graduate with a double major in Political Science and Theater) came to my AP History class to plug a group he was leading for young people to get involved in politics. It was 2004. That summer, and through election season, I began to get to know and understand where I stand politically while also getting a hell of a civics lesson.

A big project we worked on was the Mill & Bond on the ballot in our district. I rounded up high school kids, and we knocked on doors every weekend to get support from the community and urge them to vote yes in November. I had to get to know how school funding works in our state and and be able to talk to voters when I was too young to vote.

The big lesson I learned that year is that the only way public education gets better and works for everyone is if we have citizens and a system to support it, and the impact to a community when public schools are not supported is more than many people realize. I’m grateful to have had both of these educational experiences. And I’m grateful that I went on to a public college. My public school experiences made me a whole person with a wider range of knowledge.

When I was at private school, I was the poor kid. Eventually, I was the poor kid with the fucked up broken home. In high school, that didn’t matter. I was the same as everyone else. My teachers supported me through difficult times, and I never felt judged by them. They were my safe place. I would get to school early some mornings, just to sit in the choir room and do homework, while my choir teacher would do his own work in his little side office. My English teacher stood at the door everyday and high-fived us as we left class saying, “Be true to yourself. Follow your heart. Stand up for what you believe in.” They were my heroes. They saved me from my own angst some days. They challenged me to critically think, and make up my own mind about what I valued. They didn’t indoctrinate me.

To be clear, I don’t think the teacher’s I had at Lutheran School were bad people. They were wonderful people for the most part, but they wanted to shape our minds in a very specific way. My favorite moment at Lutheran school was when my 8th grade home room teacher proclaimed to a room of kids with Republican parents that she would be voting for Gore in 2000. I remember one kid in particular freaking out and chanting, “Bush! Bush! Bush!” I’m sure she got all kinds of shit for that. I loved that rebel teacher.

What’s my point? I guess I’ll answer that with a question: What would you rather have? A population who critically thinks, or a population who can’t see past their own narrow view of the world because no one taught them how to? support-process-sc370x200-t1360346453

I know my answer.