By Stina Hunziker
Late last year, after Donald Trump’s election, I came clean and publicly admitted that I have had an abortion. When I needed to have one, I turned to Planned Parenthood, but that’s not the only time I’ve relied on them for health care.
When I was new to New York, I found a gynecologist just by searching around on the internet. It was my first time navigating health care without my parent’s assistance, but they had some decent reviews so I made an appointment. After an excruciating awkward examination, the front desk representative would not let me leave without paying for the appointment, though I pointed out several times that my yearly check up was covered by insurance. She claimed I would be reimbursed at a later date once insurance covered it. Because the only way out was an elevator and she had to press a button for them to open, I was essentially held against my will. After many phone calls with billing, I never got refunded and since I was working part-time I really didn’t have that money. It was fortunate my parents stepped in and paid it for me, but that’s not most women’s reality.
Since that incident, I’ve used Planned Parenthood exclusively for all of my women’s health care needs because it is safe, reliable, affordable and accessible.
I first started paying attention to Cecile Richards in the summer of 2015 when the doctored videos accusing Planned Parenthood of illegally selling aborted fetuses surfaced. I’ll be honest, I was a little bit horrified when I first saw the footage but as more information came out and as federal, state and local investigations came back with nothing, I was relieved.
In the months following the scandal, Richards appeared before the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee, chaired by Representative Jason Chaffetz (R-UT). She said something that resonated with me so deeply and articulated exactly how I feel about women’s reproductive rights.
“Mr. Chairman, you and I do disagree about whether women should have access to safe and legal abortion. At Planned Parenthood, we believe that women should be able to make their own decision about their pregnancies and their futures—and the majority of Americans agree. We trust women to make these decisions in consultation with their families, their doctors, and their faith, and not by Congress.”
In a time that could have ruined Planned Parenthood, which has been around for over a century now, Richards’ leadership instead expanded it. In the face of a threatened government shut down, a direct ploy to sway supporters away, Planned Parenthood has seen all time high support ratings. She has confidently and carefully evolved PP beyond what it was and better support a broader demographic of women.
Richards’ background in political organizing, while frowned upon by some, has allowed the company to succeed in a world where women’s reproductive rights are more politicized than ever. Her ability to mobilize many of the 1-in-5 American women who have relied on Planned Parenthood’s medical care and generate a movement has undoubtably had a positive impact on the public’s perception.
Cecile Richards is a woman of unwavering dedication to women’s health care rights. She speaks openly and regularly about access to birth control, STD/STI testing and, yes, even abortions. She navigated a world in which many were positive she would fail and instead soared— all while being a wife and mother of three. With so much of women’s reproductive rights up in the air, I’m glad to have her at the head of a health-care provider that has saved the lives of many women.