Jesus Vs. Satan: My Journey From Abstinence Club President To Planned Parenthood Frequent Flier

Would Jesus limit healthcare access to women in the world? I don't think so!

Would Jesus limit healthcare access to women in the world? I don't think so!

Here’s another fun fact from the report for my friends that worried about reckless government spending on promiscuous sinners: teen births cost taxpayers $3.6 BILLION annually!

When people talk about defunding Planned Parenthood, what they are really saying is “I don’t need it, so no one does.” But people do need Planned Parenthood. I, in fact, did — for an entire year, I was one of those greedy Medicaid patients you hear so much about, wantonly wasting American taxpayers’ money in a luxurious, mad spree of preventing pregnancy and disease. And I’m not sorry. BLASPHEMY!

I wasn’t always this way. Once I was a good Christian woman. I was president of the abstinence club; now I support Planned Parenthood. How did I go from an evangelical Christian upbringing to this total change of heart? Do I want to make Jesus cry? What happened to me?

Obviously, Satan.

As a teen, I was literally president of the local crisis pregnancy center's abstinence club, a teen group that presented abstinence-only "sex ed" to high school health classes. We performed skits that, in hindsight, were sex shaming, irresponsible, and frankly dumb. There was, for example, the classic where we compared sexually active people to dented cans — obviously no one wants a dented can when there are shiny new virgin cans available. DON’T BE A DENTED CAN, KIDS!

At the end of our hour of emotionally manipulative fundamentalist theology thinly disguised as public health, we’d pass out commitment cards, asking everyone to remain chaste until marriage or death — you know, whichever came first.

I’m not saying that abstinence is bad or even unhealthy (our skits were). What I am saying is that spiritualizing or moralizing sexual health just doesn’t work.

But, you know, maybe I’m wrong, because my home county didn’t have a public health crisis or the highest teen pregnancy rate in the state or anything. PSYCH — actually we did! According to the Public Health Institute’s “No Time for Complacency” Report, Del Norte County’s teen pregnancy rate was the highest in the state and twice the national average in 2012 (65 out of 1,000 in the county, as opposed to 26 out of 1,000 nationally). Here’s another fun fact from the report for my friends that worried about reckless government spending on promiscuous sinners: teen births cost taxpayers $3.6 BILLION annually! That’s makes the $450 million spent on Medicaid reimbursements to Planned Parenthood seem like chump change.

But you know what I’m proud to say we DIDN’T have in Del Norte County? A Planned Parenthood clinic — not one, praise the Lord. COINCIDENCE?

I use this alarmingly real anecdote to argue that there is a legitimate need for access to Planned Parenthood, and it is marginalized populations — pregnant teens, rural communities, women, minorities, abuse victims, Medicaid patients — who need it most.

But that’s probably just Satan talking. Really, my religion taught me everything I needed to know about sexuality, so much that a few short years after my glorious reign as Abstinence President, I found myself alone and crying as I took the morning-after pill on a park bench in New York City, still wearing my purity ring and vaguely convinced I might go to hell. I’m glad it happened, actually. My moment of crisis taught me that sex, choice, and bodies are more than principles...they are personal. Facing one of my own worst-case scenarios made me realize that sexuality, sexual health, and sexual decisions didn’t have to be traumatizing. I could be proactive instead of waiting for another crisis of faith.

So I marched to Planned Parenthood and received immediate, efficient care from doctors who respected my decisions.

I now support Planned Parenthood and fervently believe that the recent Congressional hearings and the crusade to defund Medicaid reimbursements to the health care organization are an outright attack not only on women’s rights, but human rights.

Clearly Satan has a hold on me. Pray for me, Christians.

Surprisingly, it is BECAUSE of precious ideas I gleaned from my religious upbringing that I now support Planned Parenthood: human dignity, gender equality, compassion, and mercy to the underprivileged, not to mention the very Christian idea that maybe a loving God gave all human beings the freedom and power and right of choice. In the hard commerce of reality, compassion has been expressed to me most clearly by the people and places that have granted me the dignity of choice and acknowledged my humanity in my most vulnerable moments. Personal beliefs have little or nothing to do with the real needs that bring many people, including myself, to Planned Parenthood. In the context of our huge, ongoing, and global crises in women's rights, our country cannot afford to hobble Planned Parenthood.

And really, does anyone think Jesus would shut down the government to limit health care access for the largest oppressed “minority” (women) in the world? Beliefs must always take second place to reality and compassion.

Jesus, take the wheel!

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