I received the following letter from a friend of mine who is a nurse with Planned Parenthood. I asked her if I could share it with you and she agreed.
I worked at the Planned Parenthood clinic in one of our most affluent communities in Texas today. It is the only clinic that we have protesters at in the Dallas area.Growing up, I was fully immersed in the pro-life culture. I marched on Washington with my sign. I watched Silent Scream. I took pictures of carved up fetuses and showed them to my elementary school classmates. If my kids mentioned someone like this in their class today, I would be appalled, but back then, it was completely normal behavior.
In the 15 years that I have worked for Planned Parenthood, I have never seen this much protester activity. There were between 15 people when I got there to about 30 people when I left out on the small area of grass between the sidewalk and the street, shouting at cars driving by, holding up signs and calling me personally a baby killer when I walked into the clinic this morning. They are not allowed on the parking lot or to engage us in any conversation and will be arrested for trespassing, so I did not feel threatened as I walked in, but they can certainly find out about me from the plates on my car. I don't feel that I am in any danger or that my family is, but it is making me more uncomfortable than I have ever been in the past.
Despite all of this I had a great day at work! I saw people with medical problems or who wanted a well woman exam and/or contraception and one young women who was there for a pregnancy test. A planned pregnancy, we celebrated with her. She said that the protesters told her we would try to convince her to have an abortion and she was nervous but needed a form for Medicaid so came in anyway. She was surprised that abortion was never even mentioned and we were celebrating with her. It is only mentioned when someone asks for the information, we do not give it to everyone. We do not do abortions at any of our clinics, we do not even have an abortion clinic that is a part of our affiliate. There is another affiliate in Dallas that does perform them but it is separate from us.
The amazing part of my day though was the many people who stopped by the clinic to thank us for being there. To find out where to donate time or money to Planned Parenthood to make sure that we stay here for the community. The men and women who offered to watch the parking lot to make sure we were safe and who offered to buffer the patients from the protesters. The people who wrote letters that they have brought in thanking us.
This is why I work for this organization, I know that I make a difference for these individuals. I am doing an important job and I get to hold my head up and ignore the disrespectful crowd and remember why I am here.
It feels good to say that this afternoon. Thanks for listening.
Of course I hated Planned Parenthood.
The thing is, I didn't know anything about Planned Parenthood. There wasn't one in my town. I didn't know anyone who had visited one. I certainly didn't know anyone who worked at one.
My anger and hatred was borne completely out of my ignorance. I chose only to listen to one set of stories, rather than to all of the stories.
Things like abortion and the discussion between a woman's right to choose and a fetus's right to be born are difficult to sort through. I would love for there to be simple answers to these questions, but I've yet to find them.
In the absence of answers, I want to seek out ways to be compassionate. Compassion for the women who are forced to make difficult decisions. Compassion for unborn babies who are seen as burdens. Compassion for doctors and nurses who help women receive the care that they need.
When we choose compassion, we choose life.