Thursday, October 11, 2007

The protesters are my family

Last night, my mother-in-law called me at home. She told me that she just read an ad in the local paper about the “40 Days for Life” campaign. She said that she wanted to get involved, she wanted “to get out and do something about Planned Parenthood.” See, she doesn’t know that I’m a doctor at a Planned Parenthood health center. It’s a part of my life that I don’t share with her. But I’ll share a bit of it with you.

My friends sometimes ask me why I do what I do, when it makes things in my personal life so difficult. To me, it’s an easy choice, but one worth explaining.

Protesters: 7

I am Emily X.

I am Planned Parenthood.


Jennifer said...

The protesters are my family too...and I'm mostly just shake my head at them since for the most part they are just uneducated. I applaud the work you do. When I was a broke single mom in law school (health insurance- no way!) Planned Parenthood was the place I came for birth control and yearly exams and I still go there because even though I have fancy lawyer insurance- it's through a Catholic clinic that won't prescribe birth control because I'm not married. I am so glad that there are brave doctors like yourself willing to put their lives on the line so that women (and their children) everywhere can have better lives. Thank you. Thank you. A million times thank you.

Pamela said...

My in-laws are the same way. They support birth control, but they can't support Planned Parenthood because they do abortions. I'd love to volunteer at PP, but my husband and I know that it would really bother his mother. I also don't know if I could keep a secret like that.

Tara said...

I wish that we lived in a society where people wouldn't have to keep secrets from thier in-laws about thier desire to allow women to have a choice.

Stef said...

I first want to say that I think what you are doing here is too cool! As a fellow PP employee (different affiliate), your words ring all too true to me. I joke that I got sucked into the agency, but the truth is that I sucked it in and now it is so much a part of my daily life that I will never be the same. You are so right that our opposition is mostly made up of uneducated people, and I think also closed-minded and selfish. We are most certainly not here for the money (do you know what "non-profit" means??), but for the population of at-risk people we serve. Kudos to you and keep up the hard work! Know that you are not alone out on the front lines every day. I am here with you.

Angie said...

I also have anti-choice family members. At first, I was afraid to talk to them about being pro-choice, but when I saw how extreme some in the anti-choice movement are--opposing birth control and sex-eduation--I started talking more about my work with my family. I found that, even though they don't necessarily come to pro-choice marches with me, they now will say that they support Planned Parenthood because of all the important prevention work that we do. They didn't even realize that anti-choice organizations opposed birth control!

I know that not all families are the same, but I am glad that I talked to my family about choice--I think that the anti-choice groups that they thought they belonged with were misleading them by not being honest about all of their extreme priorities. I even have some family members who used to say they were "pro-life" and now are proudly pro-choice because they understand the issue better.

Froukje said...

That is sad, if you can not share your beliefs with your family. How will they change their mind if not through their friends and family? I am dutch, and birthcontrol and abortion are culturally accepted in the Netherlands. I live in Santa Cruz, CA, also a pro-choice environment. I just hope people will grow to be more compassionate when they form their views about these issues.
Do you feel the anti-choice movement consists mostly of men, and women that are past the age of possible conception (they will not be able to become pregnant anyway)?

Jack Greenlaw said...

I am a security director at a large Planned Parenthood affiliate. I applaud this site and consider all of the people that work at our health centers as my personal heroes.

Eric said...

It's really sad that you have to feel ashamed of what you do and that you have to hide it from your family. They will find out eventually. You should just be up front with them and if they do not like it, that is really their problem. It may feel like you need to hide it from them but that must be eating you up inside. If they truly love you they will get over it. If they can not accept it than you should help to educate them. You should be proud of what you do and you should not have to hide from anyone, least of all your own family.

Toni said...

Dr. Emily,
I am a patient advocate at the local PP clinic, and I am not understanding why you couldn't tell your mother-in-law about the important work you do. You say she supports PP. Of course we all have to decide who to share our info with, but she is your family! Dishonesty about how you serve women is, in a way, dishonoring the very women you serve. You should be proud of what you do and feel free to crow about it to your husband's mother, for god's sake!
Thank you for all your good work.

D said...

I am a physician, too, and recently started working closely with Planned Parenthood. I So support the things that they provide, particularly the education aspects. When I was a single mom in undergrad I used the planned parenthood services for my basic health care needs and they were wonderful! How blessed I am to be in a position now where I can use my training to help a cause I truly believe is Admirable.
Having said that, I live in Louisiana, a very conservative state and as I started to get involved I felt that I had to talk with my 14 year old son. Although it breaks my heart to think of it, there is a chance that someone at his school would say something hateful about me because of this affliliation and I wanted him to have a chance to be involved in my decision. Imagine how proud I was when he said "why wouldn't other people want everyone to be able to make choices about their lives?"

Hoorah for education & the job Planned Parenthood does, with all its employees and volunteers, each and every day. Keep up the wonderful work!

T said...

BRAVO and Thank-you for being one of the vanishingly small number of providers. We need you and you do whatever you need in terms of privacy to take care of yourself. My mom has for years characterized Planned Parenthood as being evil, gave her money to the Christian Coalition and Crisis Pregnancy Centers, etc. I endured all of this while growing up, disagreeing with her silently from the age of 12. (Thankfully my mom does believe in birth control but we never did discuss sex.) About three years ago, I decided to volunteer at my local Planned Parenthood as a thank-you for the years of health care they provided when I was a teenager. I became a clinic escort and now I'm a PP hotline counselor. Nine months ago, my mom said something really negative about PP when she discovered that I was volunteering there. This time I decided to tell her the truth. I said "you know what Mom? I love you, but you personally owe PP a big debt. Yes, I mean you. You told me it was so painful when XXXX {my brother} and his girlfriend had an abortion. Well, you need to know the real reason your own daughter, yes me, never needed an abortion. The real reason is that Planned Parenthood provided me with birth control and the information I needed in a non-judgmental, affordable way, starting at age 14. Yes, your own daughter was having sex back then and I thank PP that I have not yet had to make a hard choice about pregnancy. You should be thanking them too, for all the abortions they prevent each and every year. Without them, we would have backstreet abortions and who would provide birth control for the scores of teenagers in the country who need it to prevent pregnancy?
Please mom, think again before you generalize PP as just an abortion provider. Consider thanking them for supporting your daughter in her healthy and happily child-free life."

daydreamer33 said...

I used to work for a Planned Parenthood and still very much so support what they do. I do agree though with some of these comments that its sad that you hide your work from your in-laws. I am marrying into an anti-choice family, but when we were only dating I was working for Planned Parenthood and chose to NEVER keep that from anyone. I was always proud to say where I worked and was willing to take all comments from anyone about how they felt about Planned Parenthood, abortion, or even jsut birth control. You can decide who you continue that conversation with and who you stop there and accept the fact that you have different beliefs but keep any positive relationship you might have. My soon to be in-laws never really wanted to hear about my work and what I did for Planned Parenthood, nor did they tell people they knew what I did unless that person asked me personally, but they do still love me for me, we jsut dont talk about those things that we do not agree on...that is ok with me. You really should consider telling them as it might be an even worse situation when they find out on thier own and find out what you have been keeping from them for as long as you have. Be proud of what you do and keep fighting for the cause. Good work!! I will soon be going to school to become a nurse and plan to get involved again with Planned Parenthood, either volunteer or working again in the best job I have ever had!! Thanks again for your amazing work.

Susan said...

I sometimes pick up my aging aunt's mail and go through it with her. She gets a lot of anti-choice mail. These mailings usually are not about differences of opinion about when life begins or the role of women in society. Instead they are full of lies about PP. And my aunt believes them all. So far, I have made no progress by trying to educate her about PP. But I realize that the stakes for my confronting her are small. It doesn't really matter to me, to my life in the community, etc. what my aunt thinks. In contrast, the stakes for a doctor are very high, whatever their role at PP. Just as we trust a woman's reproductive decisions, so we must also trust this doctor's decision to keep her PP involvement from her in-laws. Only she knows what is the right thing for her and her life. We should all speak up and speak out whenever we can. Sometimes when we think we can't, we really can. But sometimes, we really can't.

Monika said...

Dr. Emily

I respect your reasons for not telling anti-choicers in your family about the important work you do, and invite other commentors to similarly respect the choices of others, who are the true experts of their lives, even if they are not choices we ourselves would make.

I applaud the work you do, and celebrate the wonderful women and men in the pro-choice movement.


Erin said...


I understand your reasoning for not telling your mother-in-law, because I'm in the same boat. Not only is my mother one of the most militant anti-choicers in our area (and like the commentor about her aunt's anti-choice mail, she believes and spreads a whole lot of lies about PP, birth control, and abortion) but her entire side of my family is as anti-choice as they come. If any of them knew I volunteer for PP, I'd be 100% disowned and never allowed to see any of my siblings again - gotta love how the anti's are "pro-family," but only "pro" the family who agrees with their views!

humanistmom said...

My sisters's family are all pro life! And of course, I am ProChoice!! They are very conservative, souhern, free will Baptist, non-drinkers, non-smokers, my way is the right way (and the ONLY way) kind of people! Guess who is the rebel! Me and my sons, the heathens!
What a woman wants or needs to do to or with her body is her business and no one else's! Thank goodness that there is a place like Planned Parenthood for women to go to. Not the type of places that lure you in with promises of helping, but their real intention is to talk you into something you do not want!
I know about the secret part, I am now an atheist (humanist). I can't tell my family or I will be ostracized. O r tell the public, in which I work, it could hurt my money. I live in the south where people can be very closed-minded!
I really want to tell everyone, but I only tell my frieds.

Mark said...

To all those who have told the doctor she should tell her in-laws she works at PP,
No matter how well intentioned, saying "You should . . ." to anyone is not helpful. The doctor needs support, not more criticism.