Now the young woman is living with her fiancé who is a medical student. When they first became sexually active, she decided to go to the Planned Parenthood in her community, but she kept putting it off. She knew she needed to take responsibility for averting an unintended pregnancy, but somehow she felt guilty about going to the clinic to get birth control. She found it ironic that she felt bad about doing something responsible.
For this reason it’s important that we make family planning clinics so mainstream, so Main Street that there is no stigma attached to walking in the front door.
Earlier this year, when I opened one of the first family planning clinics funded by the Iowa Initiative in Cedar Rapids, Waverly and Independence, I was surprised to find the Chamber of Commerce ambassadors, the mayors, city council members and county supervisors in attendance.
The family planning clinic in small town Waverly is on Main Street near a dance studio. It struck me that in Waverly little girls will learn to be physically and emotionally strong as they learn the power of their bodies, and when they’re young adults they’ll go next door to assure that they continue to be physically and emotionally healthy and strong as they learn the power of their adult bodies.
In small town Independence the new family planning clinic is located in the local hospital between the wellness center and the nursing home. Again, local leaders were there to welcome this small business to the community.
Recently in Postville, a local early childhood teacher brought her high school class to the family planning clinic opening. One of her students was pregnant. They all learned about the services the clinic offers, including yearly exams and testing for sexually transmitted diseases as well as birth control counseling.
Earlier that day we opened a clinic in New Hampton, where a local reporter in her 40’s was visibly pregnant. She and her husband already have several children. She laughed about the fact that she had made an appointment to get one of the new, long-acting IUD’s, but when she went for the insertion, they discovered she is pregnant. She and her husband are anticipating the arrival of their baby and she’s comfortable telling her story to strangers.