I’m not one to do gratitudes on Facebook during the month of November. It can be annoying to me, mostly because I’m kind of a curmudgeon and it feels a little braggy when I see people posting certain types of things they are grateful for. Sometimes it can feel like a backdoor brag.
I am definitely a glass half empty kind of person, it’s hard for me to really feel grateful even though I’d like to cultivate that part of me, I also like to think that my cynicism is part of my charm.
The things I’m grateful for include the humdrum parts of life, my kiddo, my home, a car that runs, family who cares about me. Pretty boring stuff.
And so even though I don’t do social media gratitudes, I find myself mildly infected by the notion. And so I want to do this one in a more public way. Because it’s something that’s unbelievably real to me today and something that’s recently been taken away from thousands upon thousands of women in my state of Texas.
Accessible, affordable, reproductive health care.
I visited my local Planned Parenthood last week. I got a pap smear for the first time in five years, as I don’t have health insurance.
I’ve known all along that I could take advantage of this service, but I’m lazy about checking into things and I’m fairly healthy, and I really hate to go to the doctor. I hate getting a pap smear.
So, anyway, I finally got off my duff and made an appointment. Since I don’t have health insurance, I asked about financial assistance and was told that I could fill out a one-page application with my driver’s license and a utility bill. They don’t request proof of income, but do audits. It was super easy. And I qualified.
I got my pap smear, with a practitioner who sat down and chatted with me, explained several things, listened to another couple of minor-ish health concerns, got a referral for a free mammogram, and some side advice on other low-cost health clinics.
My experience was a relief. It didn’t take very much time or effort on my part. Sure, I had to wait a little longer than I might have with a doctor who takes health insurance. But I ended up having a really nice conversation with a young mother while we waited in the lobby. My visit cost me $17. Very affordable. Hell, less than most co-pays these days.
This Is New To Me
I realized something recently, being poor forces you to navigate systems. It’s a learning curve. I was by no means rich before Annika was born, but I have always had health insurance. When she was born and I stopped working, I made an educated decision to start a crazy life that included low-income and no insurance. Yeah, I know I took a huge risk. But that’s not the point of my post.
My point is that I suddenly realized that I could use a service that’s been there all along. It’s something that’s been there all along for other women in Texas. And now it isn’t.
I suddenly realized that I’m very grateful that I live in Austin where the Planned Parenthoods aren’t at risk. Yet.
Having services specific to reproductive health care, whether you want birth control or not; whether you want an abortion or not; these are things that many women take for granted. They say, “Well, you can go to a regular doctor.” Yeah, but those doctors charge hundreds of dollars to do an exam.
And here’s the thing. I’m not some welfare queen (unbelievably stupid notion, imho). I’m not living off the government. I just wanted to be able to raise my daughter and be available for her while she was young. I worked my ass off for many, many years. I wasn’t lucky enough to become a mother in the most traditional sense, with a husband and the ability to live on one income.
And I do work. I just don’t work quite enough to be able to afford health insurance.
Again, yes, I understand that I made that choice. I did. I decided that my bond with my daughter while she was young was worth the risk of going without health insurance. And I’d do it again. All over again. Because it has been worth it. And because I think that people should be able to have those kinds of choices. I have sacrificed a lot to be able to have this lifestyle in the past five years. And it was all worth it.
So yeah, I’m extremely thankful this year for Planned Parenthood and the people who support the organization’s mission. I’m saddened that there are women this year who are doing without because of right-wing conservatives who believe so passionately in the rights of unborn children that they are sacrificing living human beings.
I’m pissed that religion has taken over the government.
Since life isn’t all that linear, I’ve come to realize that we can all be down and out at one point in our lives. There is no such thing as “those people.”Because we are all or have been or potentially could be “those people.” By taking care of those people, we are taking care of our past, present and future selves, our children, and our grandchildren.
So, my one gratitude this month, and it’s a biggy, is that Planned Parenthood exists to provide important, low-cost, professional quality reproductive health care to women.