While Planned Parenthood clinics do perform abortion services, that is not all that they do – they see patients who seek family planning help, birth control, women’s exams, and testing for sexually transmitted diseases. Planned Parenthood is often times the only source for women’s health services for the women that they treat. I am one of those women – I don’t have an OB/GYN or a women’s health doctor.
This past summer, it was time for my first triennial Pap smear and I was in Washington, D.C. away from home. So, I made an appointment at the Silver Spring clinic. On the day of my appointment, a 45 minute metro ride and a 20 minute walk finally got me to the facility. After waiting an additional hour and a half past when my appoint was scheduled to start, I was finally brought in to see the nurse. Two nurses and a P.A. could not properly take my blood pressure – after six attempts to do so – because the machines were all either dead or broken. The doctor who performed my Pap smear even attempted to take my blood pressure three times after the procedure, only to give up and hand me a sticky note on which she wrote what my blood pressure range should be, telling me to just go to CVS to use the blood pressure machines there.
Reflecting on this experience, I can’t help but question the current health care standards for women. There is only one clinic in the entire District of Columbia. Existing clinics cannot afford properly functioning equipment or sufficient staff to manage the high demand of services.
Planned Parenthood predominantly serves people of color and people of lower socio-economic status. Women and families rely on the services that Planned Parenthood provides; they have no alternatives. It’s
problematic (problematic doesn’t cut it) unacceptable that the standard of care that these women rely on, that I rely on, is so low.
I am fortunate enough that I can afford the time off work to go to the doctor, the long commute, and even longer wait time. I can afford the $7.30 roundtrip metro rail fair. I can afford to take unplanned time off work to seek out additional health care at CVS. Countless women cannot afford it; they may not be able to seek out private health care, have insurance, have the means to take off that much time at work, or spend that much money on commuting.
Women’s access to adequate health services, or lack thereof, cannot be ignored.
Featured Image: Flickr