"It was an education."Still, the pressure of the community is hard to shake. "Our church talked about Planned Parenthood as a gas chamber and part of the new Holocaust."But when she and her husband, whose job didn't provide health insurance, needed birth control, Planned Parenthood was the only option they could afford."During my exam, the doctor talked with me about all the different birth control options and referred me to a really detailed chart that showed the advantages and disadvantages of each.
When you add in Catholics, that number rises to more than half.
I was raised in an evangelical culture myself and, while doing research for this story, I was taken aback by how often one Christian woman's experience with Planned Parenthood led me to another's, and another's, and another's.
Elizabeth* is a 29-year-old stay-at-home mother of four.
From a young age, her conservative evangelical parents and pastors impressed upon her the values of the religious right: that a woman's virginity is a gift to her husband, that sex outside of marriage is a sin, that abortion is murder. "My dad instilled in me that we were against that group," Elizabeth says.
There are many more women like her, all around the country.
Women who grew up in conservative Christian environments that push abstinence-only education, unwavering anti-abortion attitudes, and adherence to the Republican party line—and who, out of necessity, are secretly visiting Planned Parenthood clinics for pap smears, birth control, STD tests, and other reproductive health services, including abortions."We have many people from evangelical or born-again traditions who come to our health centers all across the United States," says Reverend Vincent Lachina, regional chaplain for Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and Hawaii.
"I thought, It's largely due to the Christian right's vehement opposition that Planned Parenthood faces the very real possibility that it may have to shut down.
Clinics around the country continue to close, one by one, state by state, due to lack of funding—just two weeks ago, Planned Parenthood announced that it would have to shutter four locations in Iowa and leave nearly 15,000 women without a primary healthcare provider after the state's mostly Republican congress voted to block funding to any medical facilities that provide abortions, despite the fact that a majority of Iowans support Planned Parenthood.
By senior year, Megan and her boyfriend had broken up.
She was dating around for the first time and had stopped taking birth control. She hesitates as she relates the incident, drawing in a sharp breath.
The Family Research Council published a 2016 report entitled "The Real Planned Parenthood: Leading the Culture of Death."Data doesn't exist on just how many women who were raised in this faith actually patronize Planned Parenthood in private, which is a result of the very reason many of them go there: It provides anonymity.