For several years in my early to mid-twenties, I was living without health insurance. This was before the Affordable Care Act made it possible for young adults to remain on their parent’s insurance until the age of 26.
Back then, I didn’t have a lot of options. I had a job working at a bar where I made enough in tips to pay my bills and fund my tuition, but it certainly didn’t come with benefits. And honestly, I was young and dumb—mostly convinced I was invincible and that I didn’t need health insurance anyway.
Over the course of those years, the only doctors I ever saw were the ones I visited at Planned Parenthood for my annual exam and my replenished supply of birth control.
The medical providers at Planned Parenthood were there for me when I found myself crippled in pain as a result of a bladder infection.
They were there for me when I had questions about best protecting myself from STDs.
They were there for me when I wanted to switch birth control pills in favor of a brand with fewer side effects.
And they were there for me when I was raped. When I told no one else what had happened to me. When I was shattered and bleeding and scared. When I was questioning myself and the circumstances surrounding what had happened. And when I needed an exam I didn’t want but knew was necessary.
Planned Parenthood was there.
They were compassionate. They were understanding. They were knowledgeable. And they called what had happened to me what it was—rape—almost a decade before I was finally willing to call it that myself.
For years, Planned Parenthood treated me when I didn’t have access to care anywhere else. They accepted payment on a sliding scale, so that a fear of not being able to afford their services never kept me from walking through their doors. And they helped to piece me back together, both physically and mentally, after an experience that shook me to my core.
Without Planned Parenthood, I don’t like to think about how those uninsured years of mine would have played out. Would I have gotten pregnant by one of the not-so-great guys I was dating at the time? Would I have put off treating that bladder infection, for fear of not being able to pay, until it landed me in the hospital? Would I have found myself drowning in medical bills I couldn’t afford because I hadn’t had access to preventative care in the first place?
Would I have suffered alone, literally torn open, after one of the worst and most confusing experiences of my life?
The “what ifs” are enough to keep me awake at night.
My story is certainly not unique, though. Without Planned Parenthood, there are 2.4 million women, men and adolescents in the United States alone, each year, whose lives could take a drastically different (and far more traumatic) turn.
The “what ifs” are heartbreaking to think about.
But those “what ifs” could very well become reality if the AHCA is allowed to pass. Because right now, this “healthcare bill” aims to defund the organization that has treated one in five women in the United States. The organization that opens their doors when insurance companies and for-profit medical centers shut theirs.
Planned Parenthood provides 295,000 Pap tests and more than 320,000 breast exams each year. They prevent an estimated 560,000 unintended pregnancies in that same time span. And they provide 4.2 million tests and treatments for sexually transmitted infections.
They do so much good work.
And the AHCA aims to put an end to all of that.
Of course, that’s not all the AHCA aims to do. This is a bill that is inherently anti-woman. In addition to removing funding for planned Parenthood, it will also allow insurance companies to charge women more in premiums for giving birth, having had a C-section, or being victims of domestic violence. That’s because the AHCA will allow each of those things to be considered a pre-existing condition, which insurance companies would then be permitted to charge more in premiums for. So much more as to be completely unaffordable for the average person.
The bill will also take away the essential benefits women have come to rely on—things like maternity coverage and newborn care will no longer be required to be covered.
All of this just scratches the surface of how deeply the AHCA aims to harm women. Which is why it is SO important we all raise our voices and remind the senate that we stand with Planned Parenthood, and against the AHCA.
- Call your Senators
- Tag them on Facebook
- Tweet at them
- And tweet your representative while you’re at it
We all deserve better. And this bill going through would be disastrous, not only for women, but for our country as whole. Because there are a lot of tragic “what-ifs” that stand to become reality if something isn’t done to stop this travesty of a bill before it is allowed to go any further.
Won’t you join us in standing up for women and against this political nightmare?