When I was 17 and growing up in Canada I went to sexual health clinic to get a prescription for the birth control pill. While it would have been covered by the government, visiting my family doctor to get the script would mean that I’d have to use my parent’s drug insurance to get the pill and they would have known. I wasn’t ready to have that conversation with them, nor did I feel that I really needed to. So I went to a free sexual health clinic (located in my town’s premier shopping center) where I saw a doctor and was able to purchase the pill at a seriously reduced price.
Growing up in Canada meant never paying for health care. Prescriptions yes, but a visit to the doctor, never. At 17 I didn’t realize how lucky I was to have access to those services and be able to have real autonomy over my sexual health and choices. In fact it wasn’t until I moved to the US two years ago that I realized how sweet I had it in Canada.
This past week I made my first trip to Planned Parenthood to get birth control because the doctor I had seen in the past was no longer accepting my insurance. After paying thousands of dollars for coverage, I’m beyond shocked every time I have to shell out cash for a co-pay or later receive a bill for whatever the insurance hasn’t covered. Not wanting to deal with the paper work of visiting an out of network provider, I turned to Planned Parenthood who accepted my insurance and was able to offer discounted prescription options.
For someone who has never had to worry about the cost of health care, it’s shocking to me that Americans continue to live with this system. I try to picture myself at 17 and wondering what I would have done without access to free health care. It certainly would have made things difficult. I would definitely have had to have that unwanted conversation with my parents or I would have had to go somewhere like Planned Parenthood.
So as Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, signed legislation on Tuesday to bar Planned Parenthood from receiving federal funding in his state, I was making use of the organization and feeling grateful for its existence. In a country where access to health care isn’t a human right but run as a business, it’s horrifying to think it could be slowly losing it’s few beacons of hope. Republicans claim that by cutting funding to Planned Parenthood they are only making sure that federal funds are not used for abortion, but Planned Parenthood, of course, offers many other services. So to deny people access to the little affordable or free health care available is beyond me. The notion that it would be more important to Republicans to stop funding an organization that provides life-saving services like cancer screening simply because it also provides abortion services is in my view a testament to how backward some in this country really are.