These are just *some* of the ways that Planned Parenthood has helped the HelloGiggles editorial team

Last week, House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that the Republicans are making moves to strip Planned Parenthood of all of its federal funding. Another way to say that is House Speaker Paul Ryan announced that the Republicans are planning to take vital healthcare away from anybody who isn’t wealthy, especially if that healthcare focuses on helping women.

By defunding Planned Parenthood, the government will take away access to the only affordable healthcare for nearly five million women, men, and teens.

HelloGiggles stands with PP, always and forever. Last week, HG writers told you how Planned Parenthood has helped them prevent cancer and why it would be horrific to lose their services, how PP provided the sex education they couldn’t get elsewhere, how PP guided them through an abortion without shame or stigma, how PP took care of them when they were sexually assaulted.

We want to continue putting faces on the millions of people who benefit from Planned Parenthood. Below are just some of the ways that Planned Parenthood has helped the HG editorial team.

“Where do I start? I got my HPV vaccine at Planned Parenthood when I was 22 and had no money or health insurance. I get year supplies of birth control there. I’ve been there for UTI’s, Pap smears, STI testing, and pregnancy tests. I’ve lost and switched insurance probably 7 times in the last three years, so I don’t have a consistent primary care physician or a regular gyno. PP is the most consistent doctor in my life.” — Madison Vanderberg, Senior Editor

“In college, I was afraid of involving my parents (who are wonderful but ultra old school and conservative and think a teen girl has no right sexually involving herself with other people when she should be studying) when it came to birth control and Pap smears, so I always booked appointments at a Planned Parenthood nearby campus. I received birth control pills for an entire year and a yearly pap smear, as well as an annual STD test, because hey, best to be safe (and all free of charge). There was no judgement, and my doctors always took the time to educate me on what options I had. They made me feel safe, and that’s what healthcare should 100% always aim for.” — Gina Vaynshteyn, Editorial Director

“When I first graduated college, I had no healthcare and no idea how to take care of my body. I had aged out of the coverage from my parent’s excellent provider and was essentially left to fend for myself. I was living in Cincinnati, Ohio at the time and needed a basic exam, access to education, and birth control pills. While I was sexually active, the pills also helped regulate my bad hormonal acne and mood swings, and I had been on them already for a few years. I didn’t know where to turn and was too confused (and poor) for an OB/GYN. I went to Planned Parenthood in Cincinnati and proudly walked past the protesters who were always outside. They just sat there and stared at me as I walked in for my basic needs.

For the next several years, Planned Parenthood was my provider for basic birth control and OB/GYN check ups. They worked within my financial limits and always provided me with accessible, comprehensive, sexual education. They were one of the only constants in the next decade of my city travels and financial ups and downs. Though Cincinnati was the only location where I encountered active protesters, I have always been proud to walk in and out of that building.

A few years ago, I visited an HMO-assigned doctor for a painful physical sexual issue. It was one of the most embarrassing, disempowering, and frustrating experiences of my life. I immediately went back to Planned Parenthood to get clarification and education. They answered my questions without judgment and helped me figure out a solution.

Women should always have reliable access to basic healthcare. The workers at PP are brave, knowledgeable, giving folks who deserve our support in every way we can give it. Planned Parenthood is more than politics. It’s basic human rights. I am grateful for what it gave me over the years. And I will continue to donate and stand beside it so people in future generations have the same access to basic services (or whatever more complicated services) they may need.” — Briana Hansen, Weekend Editor

“I moved to New York City when I was 22 years old and hardly had a dime in my pocket. I was working six days a week in the service industry (often double shifts), and while I did have catastrophic health insurance (basically, insurance to cover you for giant emergencies), I didn’t have anything that would cover a typical doctor’s visit — which are often upwards of several hundred dollars.

However, I had also never been to a gynecologist before. Meaning I had never had a Pap smear (which screens for cervical cancer — a disease in which early detection is key). I had also started to become majorly, majorly fatigued before my monthly periods (like, sleep all day, feel like you’re getting the flu fatigued) and felt like my hormones were totally out of whack.

So, I did what so many women low on funds and in need of healthcare do: I booked an appointment at Planned Parenthood. For $70, I had a total check up and got to talk to a heath care expert about my concerns (who also provided me with a low-cost prescription to help me with my period-related issues). It scares me so much to think that young girls just like me may no longer have access to affordable and necessary healthcare.” — Toria Sheffield, News Editor

“I’d always used Planned Parenthood as my primary care — yearly Pap, get a breast exam, and a mini-check up — since I didn’t have health insurance. I paid on a sliding scale, so it wasn’t free, but it was affordable.

They always talk you into STD/HIV testing, and in 2012, I took a rapid HIV test at the Margaret Sanger location in NYC. I was positive. But the real story is the social worker who was in the room when the doctor told me the results. She hugged me and laughed at my nervous jokes, and she held my hand during a follow up blood test. She hooked me up with my current doctor at a convenient, quality specialty clinic. But here’s the best part — for weeks afterwards, she would email and call me to check in once (or twice even, at first) a week to see how I was holding up, to make sure that I followed up with my referral to the clinic, and to make sure I was seeing a therapist. She followed up for a long time, until it petered out — but it went on for a year or so. That sounds so inconsequential, but during a really dark, scary, LONELY time, the PP social worker was one of my very few, limited resources when it came to maintaining my mental health and carrying on with life.

I don’t know if it was because she could tell I was starting that journey alone and was so scared, or if they do that for everyone — but either way, without Planned Parenthood, I wouldn’t know my HIV status and I could have gone down a very troubled road after finding out — even simply following up with a specialist right away was key to getting my viral load down quickly, and she made sure that happened. That reminds me, maybe I should send her an email and say hello.” — Karen Fratti, Weekend Editor

“The first time I went to Planned Parenthood, I was going to get an IUD implanted. Right off the bat, the staff patiently helped me figure out the best way for me to pay for my visit – my Catholic health insurance didn’t cover the birth control that keeps unwanted pregnancy and migraines at bay, and I’d previously been in debt paying $200 at a time for three months of mini pills. The women behind the front desk were nonjudgemental, which I desperately appreciated as a struggling grad student and freelance writer who made money dressed up as an off-brand Disney princess at children’s birthday parties for cash. Honestly, they were easier on me than I was able to be on myself.

During my IUD procedure, the doctor realized my uterus is extra small and an IUD could put me at risk for major health problems. She stayed late, well after the sun had set and almost everyone had gone home, to explain why the IUD wasn’t the safest choice for me, and then helped me get a year’s supply of the mini pill for far less than what I’d been paying in the past. I left with a surprising amount of new knowledge about my body, an unexpected confidence about being responsible for my well-being, and a bag full of condoms and birth control. It doesn’t get much better than that.” — Christina Wolfgram, Video Producer

“I have always been so grateful for Planned Parenthood. When I didn’t have insurance, it was always comforting to know that if I needed a Pap smear or had a UTI, there was a place I could go to for help. And when it comes to my experiences with doctors, the people at Planned Parenthood have always taken the time to explain things to me and answer any questions I have, no matter how weird they may be. What I really love about PP is they are always kept up to date and knowledgable — sometimes moreso than general medical providers. If they take PP away from us, the GOP better get used to having a bunch of women with UTIs knocking on their door.” — Marie Lodi, Beauty Editor

“When I was in 5th grade, I remember having my mom sign a slip of paper so I could learn about puberty in school. What I don’t remember is this: Learning about puberty in school. Yes, we learned the basics about how our bodies change, menstruation, and spent a solid amount of time on pubic hair (???), but we didn’t even touch upon safe sex. Because of this, I felt as though sex was a taboo topic, a topic one didn’t discuss out loud. And that’s why I looked to Planned Parenthood as a resource for the knowledge I was too shy to ask for out loud — to learn more about understanding, loving, and protecting my body.” — Anna Gragert, Associate Editor

“Because I have a crazy medical history, pregnancy is extremely dangerous for me, at least at this point in my life. When my non-PP primary care physician first spoke with me about the dangers of pregnancy, he told me that I needed to get a non-hormonal IUD right away. Suddenly, four doctors I had never met (why four?!) came into the room, and basically used fear to explain why I must get an IUD inserted ASAP. It was very unsettling.

Of course, I was completely on board with doing whatever was required to protect myself; I told them so — I simply wanted to know why it was my safest option, what the procedure was like, what positive and negative things I could expect, etc. I mean, you’re telling me to put a foreign object in my uterus for ten years — can a girl get some details? They wouldn’t answer my basic questions; they spoke to me for all of four minutes (maybe less), repeating “You know, some women don’t like IUDs, but it’s really your only option.”

I left that appointment as a person who feared IUDs. I put off the procedure for more than a year — the memory of four doctors in white lab coats avoiding all my questions kinda freaked me out. One day, I decided to call a local Planned Parenthood — I had always known PP as a safe space that fought for women to be healthy. They would answer the questions that previous doctors didn’t think deserved a response. The kindest PP employee answered the phone; she explained the connections between pregnancy and stroke risk, between hormonal birth control and blood clots. She told me why it was good for someone with my medical history.

Because of Planned Parenthood, I was no longer afraid of doing what I needed to protect my health. I got a copper IUD, and it was a great decision — one that I was comfortable making because someone at PP spoke to me like I was a person who had the right to know what I’d be doing to my body.” — Rachel Sanoff, Features Editor

You can donate to Planned Parenthood here!