5 Bizarre True Stories from My Job at Planned Parenthood
Planned Parenthood is one of the most controversial organizations in the United States. Spend a few hours listening to talk radio, and you're bound to come across some story insinuating that they have nefarious plans to retroactively abort every baby in America until the Nazis win World War II. Cracked wanted to know what it's like to work in a place that's surrounded with angry protesters more regularly than our own offices. So we sat down with a man who works at a Planned Parenthood clinic in California -- the very first state that comes to mind when you think "sober planning" and "responsible parenthood." Here's what he told us:
People Call In With the Weirdest Issues
I'm used to crazy things happening on the phone. I've worked at several call centers. It's pretty much a customer service standard that everyone is 30 percent more insane on the phone than in person. General descriptions won't really do this kind of lunacy justice, so here's a paraphrased transcript of one call:
"I woke up and my stomach was hurting. So I took a shit. I started pushing out and something came out of me. It was bloody and pus-filled, and I realized I didn't take out my tampon last month."
Retroactive warning: It's gonna be one of those articles.
That's what we call toxic shock syndrome, and it happens because your body doesn't like it when anything that isn't a medical implant or Kuato lives inside you for a solid month. It's not a fun thing to tell a stranger, but it would've been much worse if she'd refused to reach out to us at all. Some people do that. I was on the phone with a woman for ten minutes, explaining that I needed to know why she wanted to come in, because we'd have to schedule her with the appropriate specialist. Eventually she whispered something. All I could make out was, "I stuck an ..."
I ask her to speak up. After I said this, I could hear her huffing. She was clearly out jogging at the time.
Because why call from the privacy of home when you can do it while passing as many people as possible?
Eventually she stopped. The area around her sounded quieter. She said, "I stuck an iguana up my vagina. It scratched me."
"I warned you to respect my safe word."
One can only hope she eventually outran that lizard.
Birth Control Is Crazy As Hell
Birth control isn't just pills. There's a patch, there's a shot, there is a metal rod that gets implanted in your arm, there is a copper T-shaped device that is implanted into the vagina, there's a sponge, and probably some kind of voodoo curse, if you're into that sort of thing. Most of these methods work via flooding the body with hormones. Witch doctors are notoriously hit and miss, but the rest of those options work great. Sometimes at the cost of your sanity.
"To be fair, it's hard to get pregnant if you confine yourself to an asylum room."
I have gotten calls about implants driving women to pull their hair out. On a daily basis, I speak to women crying on the phone because their birth control is giving them intense mood swings, and they're afraid it's ruining their relationships. Some women gain up to 30 extra pounds after a couple of months on the pill, or they break out in strong acne after a shot.
And the worst part is that they often don't alert us until it is too late. One woman started her period on birth control. She soaked through her pads every day for six months before she decided that something was wrong and she should seek medical attention. Her definition of "toughing it out" was to bleed for six straight months before asking for help. That lady's name was John McClane.
"I wouldn't have called, but I cut myself shaving and an IOU for blood fell out."
Or it should be, at least. She deserves it more than Bruce Willis. Die Hard was an intense bloodfest, but that shit only lasted about two hours.
The Protesters Are Completely Ridiculous
Despite what Fox News tells its viewers, we are not responsible for 114 percent of abortions. In fact, less than seven percent of the services my office provides are abortion-related. Nationwide, abortion services are only about three percent of what Planned Parenthood does. We spend more time on prenatal care -- assisting pregnancies so that babies are born healthy -- as well as fertility treatments (so babies are conceived in the first place). We also do STI exams, pap smears, cancer screenings, birth control, and a pretty decent Christopher Walken impression.
That last one is unrelated.
Though after the toxic shock girl from earlier, the joy is gone from doing the "gold watch" bit.
The point is: Abortion is the least of what we do. Abortion services are extremely expensive and, from a business standpoint, not very profitable. We only offer those services on certain days, so the protesters mostly show up when we're doing fertility and prenatal care. In other words, they're protesting us when we're doing the polar opposite of abortion.
Over the years, I've gathered that some of the protesters think we keep the aborted fetuses and perform horrific experiments on them in our free time. As if we're working this job because we're possessed demons who love vaginas and filling out resumes. Seriously: These people point crosses at our cars and spray holy water through our open windows, as if clinic workers operate on vampire rules.
It's clearly werewolf rules, dummies.
Those are some of the wacky things they do. There are plenty of less zany shenanigans they get up to, though -- like taking pictures of us and our patients. It's scary. Who knows what they're planning on doing with them? It's probably not to fondly remember the time we've spent together. Legally, there's nothing we can do about somebody taking pictures -- all we can do is hope the photographers aren't planning on adding us to the list of clinic workers murdered by anti-abortion protesters since 1993.
"ALL LIFE IS PRECIOUS ... except when inconvenient to us!"
Since they secretly suspect we're demons anyway, I'm personally hoping that hissing at them while crab-crawling into the office makes them think twice about targeting me.
Everybody's Got an Agenda
There are groups that work tirelessly to discredit Planned Parenthood. I'm not talking about rival birth control clinics in some sort of genitalia-based Karate Kid scenario -- these are oppositional forces that dislike us for political reasons. So we have to be extremely defensive and protective about everything we do. Any customer might be somebody with a hidden camera, waiting for their "gotcha" moment.
In one case, an activist got a Planned Parenthood employee to ask for a bribe in order to help a (phony) pimping ring obtain services. That employee was immediately fired, and shortly afterwards it came out that Live Action, the activist group in question, spent months visiting clinics in six states before they found one crooked employee. It might not have even mattered if they came up totally empty in their pimp-quest -- sometimes they just doctor the audio in their recordings so that it seems like they actually caught something notable. It's like your fishing trip coming up a bust, so you buy one at the supermarket and tell everybody you caught it yourself, packaging and all.
"She was a fighter, but you don't fish for 20 years without learning a few tricks."
It's not all political maneuvering. We also have spurned lovers who'll call in, trying to get their exes' test results. We have people blaming their STD test results on us. Guys have seriously told me on the phone that they are trying to sneak their girlfriend a Plan B and they want advice. I disconnect those calls, because we have not yet developed the technology to punch a man in the dick through the telephone line.
The People Catching STDs Are Not Who You Think
Most of our patients are 20-to-32-year-old women. They're usually single, sexually active, and very knowledgeable about their bodies and basic genital science. But then there are people outside that age group, those irresponsible horn-dogs boning it up left and right, despite rampant STDs and unplanned pregnancies. You know who I'm talking about:
"I didn't have any protection when I took the beach at Normandy; why would I need it for this?"
There are so many old people having sex. Turns out that The Golden Girls was more documentary than comedy. STDs among the elderly have doubled in the last decade. We do a lot of pap smears and tests on elderly women, and issue a ton of birth control to them. Yes, geriatric pregnancy is a thing that happens. My clinic finally had to stop offering abortion services to anyone over 55, because those are so much more complicated and dangerous that we just couldn't afford to keep doing it. This isn't only a problem for my weird little clinic in Freakville, California, either. Over in the UK, the number of abortions for women over 40 has risen 30 percent in the last fourteen years.
Hey, they call it menopause, not menostop.
Robert Evans is Cracked's editorial manager, and you can follow him on Twitter.
For more insider perspectives, check out 5 Things You Learn Escorting Women Into an Abortion Clinic and 7 Things You Only Find Out as a Lawyer to the Poor.
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