OFFERS COMPLETE OPTIONS
They went to their family doctor. "We asked him what to do. We didn't know what to do."
He suggested a number of agencies. Planned Parenthood was one. Kathy's mother chose
Planned Parenthood because it was the first agency she found in the phone book.
Kathy became one of Planned Parenthood's 4,400 patients; one of two percent
of their patients who are 15 or younger. Kathy hadn't used contraceptives. "I didn't inform
her," said her mother. "I didn't think ahead. I don't care who the parent is, I don't think
they think ahead."
Planned Parenthood confirmed Kathy's pregnancy and counseled her and her mother
on all the options available; marriage, being a single parent, adoption, foster homes and abortion.
No decision was reached. "I was against abortion but then I thought about it," her mother
said. Kathy didn't want to keep the baby but was scared of abortion. They went back to
Planned Parenthood to have the procedure explained. Kathy decided to abort the baby.
"My husband is straight-laced, but he realized different views when it was first-hand.
We were given all the options. My husband accepted it.
"They gave us the names of two clinics and a doctor. We took care of the rest.
We called and made the appointment."
Asked how the abortion had affected Kathy her mother said, "I'm sure she thinks
about it. It's not pleasant for her, but either way it would have affected her whether
she'd had the baby or not - but it's less this way. She doesn't have a heavy load
on her shoulders at 16."
Kathy's mother said she hadn't fully realized before that abortion was an option.
Abortions are a legal option for all women in the state of Pennsylvania. Planned
Parenthood, however, "is the only agency in the county that offers complete option counseling
for pregnant women. The other agencies limit the options," Nancy Osgood, Executive
Director of Planned Parenthood said.
It is for that reason, abortion counseling and referrals, that Planned Parenthood has
come under some local attack. The abortion counseling and referral, however, involves only
a small percent of all the people they serve with their three services; birth control,
education and counseling.
Forty-five percent of their patients are at or below an income level of $9,300 for a
family of four. Thirty-five percent of those patients are at or below the poverty level - $6,178
for a family of four. For these people, the medical care and contraceptives are free. Few of these
people could afford a private physician for family planning.
Osgood said that a "hallmark of Planned Parenthood has been that we provide
information on all methods of contraception and the same is true for counseling. We provide
all the options. It's the patients choice."
Osgood feels it is a woman's right to have all the options, "We're a responsible agency
both on counseling and referral. Anyone can pick up a phone book and find an aborion clinic.
But they don't know the quality of the care or whether a clinic is reputable. We do. Some
clinics don't care if you are pregnant or not if you pay."
Of the number of Planned Parenthood referrals, Osgood said, "We're the only counseling
and referral agency in the county for abortion. Women who want one have no where else to go.
Of course it's more likely that they will come here."
Osgood continued, "Planned Parenthood has done more than any agency in the world
to prevent the need for abortion by comprehensive family planning. We are absolutely committed
to personal choice. People given good choices will make good decisions."
Evelyn Cramer, a retired guidance counselor from Hempfield High School and a
Planned Parenthood volunteer feels abortion is a necesssary alternative. "I can't conceive of a
14 year old girl being a good mother; of being able to nourish a child - she's still growing herself.
It's not abortion that's the most important - it's why do they have to have one? The problem
comes before the abortion."
Kathy went back to Planned Parenthood several months after the abortion for
contraceptives. Her mother said, "At first I didn't want her to. I still thought of her as a little girl.
I'm not too happy about it, but...."
Kathy's mother was a single parent for five years until she married. "Abortion wasn't
available when I was young. All the dreams I had were gone when I became pregnant.
It was painful for me - it still is for girls now."