I was tickled to learn this past week that Planned Parenthood and I share a birthday. Yes, 100 years ago today, on October 16, 1916, Margaret Sanger opened the first reproductive health clinic in Brooklyn, New York. A few decades later, I was born at Children’s Hospital in San Francisco on the same day.

This Time magazine article describes the history behind that first clinic and the way access to family planning changed women’s lives dramatically.

This interview with Margaret Sanger’s grandson is a fascinating read.

Sanger insisted on a woman’s right to choose and dedicated her life to making that possible. And yes, Sanger was a controversial character. Yeah. So? I am grateful to her for what she started.

Why I have always loved Planned Parenthood

I was 15 years old heading towards my 16th birthday, when the subject of having sex got personal. My boyfriend was just over 18. California has laws regarding “unlawful sexual intercourse” with minors. The “age of consent” at that time was 18. I could have married him at at any age because, oddly, California has no minimum age for marriage as long as there is parental consent. But extra-marital sex, oh no. So we decided to wait until my birthday to have sex. 16 was better than 15+. Our getting some kind of birth control was absolutely the smart thing to do. I was able to get birth control pills with no questions asked at a Planned Parenthood clinic in San Francisco beforehand. I am eternally grateful for that.

I bought a wedding dress, a long white traditional one, at one of the second-hand stores on Haight St. We created our own ceremony including “jumping the broom“. We knew that we weren’t “legally” marrying each other but maybe having a ceremony would help if we got caught. Friends joined us dressed in “wedding party attire” and we celebrated. Then we retired to the narrow bed in the downstairs room of the foster family home I was living at at the time on Willard St. and copulated. That was my first time.

A pregnancy would have been disastrous for me. I was reeling from a crazy childhood. I barely had a hold on any kind of normalcy. Adolescence is rocky in the best of situations. And, as it often turns out, my “groom” cheated on me had sex with someone else a year or so later quitting our relationship. What if I had had a kid?! Bless you, Planned Parenthood.

Over the years I used the Planned parenthood clinics for check-ups, and routine care such as pap smears. The services were always affordable, confidential and respectful.
I happily made the choice to not have kids and I am again eternally grateful again to Planned Parenthood for providing services which gave me that option.

I have watched with consternation as the religious right, primarily with posturing by right wing politicans, has waged a war against this reproductive health clinic. A health clinic!
Public health is one, if not the, defining characteristic of modern civilization for chrissakes.

Sure, I understand how abortion inflames passions and is the ideal wedge issue to fire up bases and fundraise but essentially the issue comes down to personal choice. My body, my choice. That blob of cells is not viable without my body to grow it. I am in charge. If you are opposed to abortion, don’t get one. Now butt out of my uterus. Thank you.

I was thrilled when Hillary gave her very first speech as the presidential nominee at the Planned Parenthood Action Fund in Washington, D.C.. That was the first time EVER that reproductive health and justice was a subject of a presidential candidate’s speech. Wow!

“It is worth saying again: defending women’s health means defending access to abortion – not just in theory, but in reality,” Clinton said, as she called for the repeal of the Hyde Amendment, which prevents federal funding from being used to provide abortions.”

We can feel optimistic about the future of reproductive justice with Hillary as president.

Thank you, Planned Parenthood! And Happy Birthday. I wish you many, many more years of helping people.

Learn more:
A response by an OB-GYN to Donald’s cruel statement that women need to be punished for having an abortion.
Hillary’s response to Donald’s cruel remarks.

Contraceptive Lawsuits: CEOs using religion to justify discrimination, deny women’s equality