Having floated in and out of steady employment, studenthood, waitressing, and freelance writing over the last 10 years, I’ve been a frequent customer of Planned Parenthood. Although you may have to wait for an appointment, the clinics make it possible and affordable to extend the years of my baby-making prime. In every city I’ve lived in since college—-Portland, Seattle, Philly—-I’ve been able to walk into a PP clinic and get a full exam for about $30, depending on where I fit on their sliding scale.
No such deal in D.C. Here, it’s at least $150.
I called the downtown D.C. office and they said it would be between $150 and $200. At the Northeast D.C. office, the price was $165. I asked the woman who answered the phone if she had any idea what I could do. She said: “I don’t know, you have to call around and see. Maybe do some research on the Internet.” When I told her that hadn’t worked, she said: “Go by word of mouth. I don’t know.”
I will probably survive. My health insurance will kick in in a few weeks, and I’ll find a regular GYN. If it were an emergency, I could swing the $150 (er… Mom?). But what about all the uninsured women in the city who can barely pay their rent on time? And if D.C. is really so committed to women’s health—-like the council’s move to make the HPV vaccine mandatory for girls—-how can we make it impossible for most uninsured, poor women to take the most basic step toward keeping their business healthy?