For me, making an appointment at Planned Parenthood wasn’t a hard decision. Since the doctor who I’ve been visiting since I was born isn’t in Philadelphia, I’ve gotten used to making my own appointments. It has become a part of my independence to realize when I need care and the steps I need to take to get it. But one part of women’s health is often neglected, mostly due to the stigma surrounding it.

When I ran out of refills of my birth control pills, the first thought in my mind was to make an appointment at Planned Parenthood. Although I knew Student Health was an option, and I have health insurance that I could use at a traditional doctor’s office, I liked the idea of going a bit further off–campus and exploring the resources the center offers. 

Growing up, I was never taught the common misconceptions about their services, like that they’re just an abortion provider. I ignored loud rants calling to defund them. I was taught in school that it is a safe place for any woman to go for their health care, so I did. 

I made my appointment for 9 a.m. on a Tuesday, and took an uber to the clinic’s location on 12th and Locust Streets. I am slightly ashamed to admit that I didn’t put Planned Parenthood as my destination for fear of judgment. Instead, I mapped the driver to a nearby cafe and accepted walking the extra few blocks to their 1144 Locust St. location. Was this necessary? Probably not. But I am informed enough to know that it could be an issue.

When I walked up to the gate, I was not shocked to see protesters standing outside, vaguely waving signs in my direction. I almost wanted to tell them, “Don’t worry guys, I’m not here for an abortion.” I innately realized that attempting to separate myself from women in crisis situations is not a decision I would be proud of. Still, it made me uncomfortable to let them believe I was there for a different purpose.

Planned Parenthood is different than any other doctor’s office I’ve been to before. Before I went, I read the largely negative Yelp reviews about long wait times and poor service. What I saw was a staff that was slammed with a large amount of patients. I tried my best to be understanding and as friendly as possible. 

I filled out some paperwork and relaxed in the waiting room. I was surrounded by women of all ages and backgrounds. I was also surprised to see a fair amount of men, who were probably there for the men’s health services offered. I wondered if they were berated by the protesters when they walked in too. 

After waiting for almost two hours, I was finally brought back to talk to a counselor who asked some basic questions. I was amazed by her lack of judgment as she asked nuanced questions that ranged from my gender and sexual identity to how I viewed these concepts in general. 

I was seen next by a nurse practitioner, a Penn Nursing grad who emphasized the large number of Penn students she sees on a daily basis. Most of those students are referred by SHS when they need a service they cannot offer. I’d never heard anyone mention going to Planned Parenthood, and I wondered why. 

I was pleased by my care and the services offered, and I would definitely go back to Planned Parenthood in the future. But I also understand that it isn’t that simple for everyone. I am lucky that the clinic is one of many choices for my care.

Planned Parenthood is one of the few safe havens for women (and men) in the middle of Center City and it is so necessary. I don’t know why any of those women were there—it could’ve been for a breast exam or for a wellness check–up or for, yeah, an abortion. But I don’t care. All I know is that I was among them, and that I trust the place with my care. And I’ve never stood with Planned Parenthood more.

Planned Parenthood Center City

Address: 1144 Locust St.

Phone number: (215)–351–5560