Evangelical Christians in America have long publicly denounced Planned Parenthood as a “baby killing factory” and a “bastion of evil.” But privately, according to a new report by Laura Kasinof of Marie Claire, many Evangelical women are appreciative for the affordable and anonymous services offered by the women’s health care provider — even if they know they could never admit their support openly in their conservative communities.
Elizabeth, a 29-year-old stay-at-home mother of four, opened up to Marie Claire about her Planned Parenthood secret. She recalled a conservative upbringing in which pastors and family alike warned her against the evils of Planned Parenthood. But after she began suffering severe cramping and heavy periods — symptoms, it turned out, of an ovarian cyst — Elizabeth found that, without health insurance, she had nowhere else to turn for help.
“When I walked in there, I was so embarrassed,” Elizabeth, using a pseudonym for the story, recalled. “These were all people getting free services to possibly kill their child. They were a stereotype, to me. But I was out of resources.”
Women who attend church weekly are half as likely to receive sexual or reproductive health services, according to research published in the Journal of Women’s Health. At the time, Elizabeth was no exception.
“They gave me an exam and birth control to help with my menstrual cycles, because they said my cycle might be causing problems with my cyst,” said Elizabeth. “It was an education.”
Eighty percent of unmarried evangelical young adults actively engage in premarital sex, according to a 2009 study from the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy. Conservative values, however, make openness about such realities impossible for many women.
The stigma, sadly, isn’t limited to consensual sex. A woman using the pseudonym Megan, now 34, said that she underwent an abortion at Planned Parenthood after suffering a sexual assault at college. To this day, she confided, she has never told her family about what happened to her.
“There was just so much shame in being pregnant and unmarried,” she said. “I thought, ‘There is no way I can face my mother and my community back home with this.’”
And those are just two of the stories Kasinof tracked down, as Planned Parenthood has come under increasing attack from the Trump administration — and at the state level. A filmmaker, using her real name, opened up about her experiences with Planned Parenthood. And so did a woman who said she is the wife of pastor and “was a virgin until I got married.”
Read the full story at Marie Claire.