Planned Parenthood is an essential health service to many. Its accessible cancer screenings, hormone therapy, OB/GYN services, STI testing, sex education and contraceptive resources (just to name a few of PP’s services) are imperative to the survival and autonomy of people across the U.S., including many local musicians right here in Pittsburgh.
One of these musicians is The Childlike Empress, a songstress making intimate, dynamic folksy songs with an acoustic guitar and a banjo. In advance of her performance at City Paper’s Planned Parenthood of Western Pa. fundraiser at the Glitter Box Theater on Oct. 12, The Childlike Empress, who is donating her performance fee to PP, shared why Planned Parenthood is important to her:
“A couple years back, I was at the lowest point of my life. I fell in love with someone that seemed like a daydream but turned out to be my worst nightmare. Our relationship was quick, tumultuous and exciting, which was great for a time, but it grew to something much darker. I had finally had enough, but in the midst of a volatile and messy breakup, I discovered I was pregnant.
“I remember sitting in my room staring at my reflection, feeling numb and foreign, trying to list off my options, each one bleaker than the next. Having the baby or staying pregnant was never an option. I was embarrassed and terrified and didn’t want anyone to know. I never had the sort of relationship with my parents that made me feel as if I could tell them anything and have them not hold it against me, so that was out of the question.
“I’ve never been opposed to abortion or anyone else’s choice to have one, but I was working a job that paid very little, and there was no way I could afford it. I have been suicidal my whole life; if you’re someone that understands what it’s like to live with suicidal ideation in any capacity, you know what it’s like to always have it there in the back of your mind like an emergency-escape button. These thoughts were familiar to me, but it felt wrong.
“After allowing myself to calm down more, I made the decision to leave for Pittsburgh the next day to visit my best friend. Once I was out here, I felt as if I was able to breathe for the first time in a long time. I went back over my options and decided to call Planned Parenthood. Everyone I spoke to over the phone and in person was tremendously helpful. They made me feel comfortable and understood. Not one person cast a sideways glance at me or asked me insulting questions. I explained my situation to them, and they were able to bring down the cost, so that I could afford [the abortion] and helped me prepare for it.
“This was the most challenging thing I had ever faced in my life, but I felt more hopeful than I had in a long time. I was able to move on with my life, and I’m eternally grateful.”