No Matter What

Chloe O'Hearn with Joan Carr
My photo shoot for the PPFA 2012 year end campaign.

Last fall I was asked by a friend at Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region if I would be willing to share my story in a fundraising letter about why Planned Parenthood matters to me. Today I was thrilled to learn my letter raised over $13,000 for Planned Parenthood and the women and men of Memphis who depend on their vital services. Here’s what I wrote:

October 29, 2012

Dear SALUTATION,
I support Planned Parenthood.

This is personal for me. Planned Parenthood has saved my life on more than one occasion. I was raped when I was 14, and Planned Parenthood is where I went for my pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease tests which were, thankfully, negative. They gave me birth control and reproductive health education through my high school and college years. Planned Parenthood also taught me the importance of getting an annual women’s health exam, which is how I learned years later, through early detection, that I had cervical cancer.

I’m 36 years old now and I have a family of my own, a successful career, and can afford my own health care. And I support Planned Parenthood Greater Memphis Region every chance I get. I make a monthly gift. I proudly and publicly advocate for Planned Parenthood and women’s rights at rallies and events. I’ve even taught a hula-hooping class in the PPGMR Health Center!

It’s personal for you, too.

I’m sure you, or someone you know—a sister, mother, aunt, child, or friend—has been to Planned Parenthood and benefited from their high-quality, non-judgmental, and confidential health care services of all kinds.

Will you support PPGMR, too, with a gift today of $XXX?

There are so many young people, of all backgrounds, in our community who have their own stories. Of how Planned Parenthood helps them. Of what they need to make their lives better. Your gift will help them like someone else’s gift helped me. And then maybe someday they’ll give back, too.

Sincerely,

Chloe O’Hearn
Former patient, supporter, and donor

Care. No Matter What. Photo by Rick Maynard, PPGMRI’ve since written and spoke publicly about my story several times, but writing this letter was a big scary deal for me because it was the first time I had ever shared my story locally and outside the insular and supportive hooping community, and this letter was being mailed to 5,000 of my neighbors! I was terrified about the prospect of my coworkers, friends, or even my dad getting sent the letter since at the time, 22 years later, I still had never even told my parents I was raped.

I overcame my fear by reminding myself that anyone receiving the letter was on the Planned Parenthood mailing list so therefore already a supporter or patient, and that if I didn’t speak out about what matters to me, no matter what, who would? As it turns out, the sky didn’t fall and with the money raised from my letter, some other 14 year old girl like me can still get a free pregnancy and STD test without parental consent, and birth control pills to protect her from pregnancy the next time she’s raped, and maybe even learn a few things about preventative care and save her from dying of cancer. If even one woman’s life is saved from this letter, it’s the most “pro-life” thing I could ever do. How could I say no to that?

Last fall during the 2012 election season a lot of Rapepublican men said a lot of really stupid things about rape in the context of abortion legislation and their ongoing campaign to defund Planned Parenthood. Many other women like myself were so enraged by their insensitive and ignorant comments that we were not only inspired to share our own stories for the first time ever, we also voted them out of office. There’s still a few more to get rid of in the next election though, as the battle for a woman’s right to make her own decisions about her own body rages on today after the House GOP just passed the The Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act banning abortions after 20 weeks, based on such factually incorrect arguments from the all-male geniuses on the Judiciary Committee that “the incidence of rape resulting in pregnancy [is] very low,” or my personal favorite from this guy who has clearly never been laid and is therefore an expert on masturbating, basing his vote on watching male fetuses masturbate.

Fight. No Matter What. Photo by Rick Maynard.As someone who went to Planned Parenthood for a pregnancy test after I was raped at the age of 14, I can definitively say these men, our elected “representatives,” have absolutely no idea what they are talking about, have no context for the very real issues the patients of Planned Parenthood face, and are not the slightest bit pro the life of anyone other than other stodgy old white men like themselves and those masturbating male fetuses who they hope will grow up to be just like them one day. And this is exactly why I can not bear to be silent and will continue to proudly, openly, and generously support Planned Parenthood every chance I can with my time, my money, and my voice.

Whatever your story is, tell your truth even if your voice shakes. You never know when it might save the life of someone else too.

P.S. You can make a difference in someone’s life by donating online to the Planned Parenthood location nearest you. Every free condom, pack of birth control, STD test, and cancer screening has the potential to save a life in innumerably profound ways, and every dollar counts.

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