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Samie Hartley's Simple & Sassy: Some love for Planned Parenthood
Simple & Sassy

Samie Hartley's Simple & Sassy: Some love for Planned Parenthood

Planned Parenthood has been in the news a lot lately, and readers haven’t been shy about sharing their opinions regarding the Napa City Council’s decision to create a buffer outside the Napa Planned Parenthood that prohibits shouting and various “harassing” acts within 30 feet of entrance.

Samie Hartley

Samie Hartley

Our readers got into heated discussions on Facebook, and the conversation also unfolded in print in letters to the editor.

I’m not going to weigh in on the city council’s decision. I’m just going to share my story. Planned Parenthood was there for me when I didn’t know where else to go, and I have been an avid supporter ever since.

My story isn’t an abortion story, so put your pitchforks down. Just hear me out.

After graduating college, I was working part-time at a community newspaper. I didn’t have any health benefits, so my Dad kept me on the family health plan. It wasn’t a big deal ... until it was a big deal.

A few months after I moved back home, the factory where my Dad worked announced its pending closure, and my family could feel the shadows of home foreclosure creeping silently toward our doorstep if my Dad couldn’t find new work. My Dad made the difficult choice of cutting me from the family health plan, so that we could bank more money to stay in our home as long as we could while we figured things out. 

There was no family discussion. He knew my Mom wouldn’t allow her daughter to go without healthcare, so he made the tough decision on his own and told us on a Sunday morning before the Super Bowl. Awkward. 

My Mom cried, but I didn’t have time for tears. I was on several medications, and my prescriptions were only going to get me so far. I needed to make a plan.

I knew I could forego my antidepressants. It wasn’t ideal, but I could manage and get by on the strategies I’d learned in counseling. My biggest concern was my birth control pills. 

When I was in college, I was diagnosed with endometriosis (Translation: My uterus hates me and punishes me with intense pain and cramping beyond your typical PMS fare). Birth control pills helped regulate my periods and significantly reduce the pain I experienced. I know — too much information — but going on “The Pill” was a life-changer for me. I was no longer delirious with pain two weeks out of every month. After years of pain, I finally felt normal.

The thought of going back to that pain was not an option, so I made an appointment with Planned Parenthood.

I remember feeling nervous and even a bit embarrassed. I also felt scared. I didn’t know what would greet me outside Planned Parenthood. I’d heard stories and seen clips on the news. I didn’t want to be shamed or heckled. I just wanted to be able to live a life without pain. 

When I arrived, there were two demonstrators outside. Two older women stood about 10 feet from the doorway. They held signs. One of the women held a sign covered in graphic photos depicting abortions. The other woman had a sign that was much simpler. It was pink, and in black lettering it said: “Want to talk? We will listen.” They stood there in silence. They smiled as I approached the front door, and I acknowledged them with a nod.

The medical providers at Planned Parenthood provided me with a prescription so that I could continue on the birth control pill, and I was grateful. But what surprised me is that it wasn’t an in-and-out appointment. The nurse I met with asked me questions about my physical and sexual health, but she also asked me about my mental and emotional health. It was the first time I really felt listened to by a medical professional. We talked for nearly 30 minutes. I talked about the stresses of my family situation, and she offered me resources to contact if I felt I wasn’t able to manage my anxiety and depression without my medications. When I remember the compassion she showed me, it brings tears to my eyes. I wish everyone could feel so well cared for when they seek medical care. 

Planned Parenthood was there for me, and it is there for women AND men who seek access to critical health screenings. Planned Parenthood is not Abortions-R-Us, but even if it were, there are several ways to protest their services and stand up for your beliefs without making people feel unsafe and unwelcome. 

I’m sincerely grateful that the two women outside the Planned Parenthood I visited were passionate but polite. Instead of being intimidating, they offered compassion. As I left the clinic, the women wished me a blessed day. I turned to them and wished them well, and I meant it. Just because we don’t agree doesn’t mean we have to be enemies. A little compassion can go a long way.

Experts believe that red wine can have a number of important health benefits when it is drunk in moderation. Red wine contains a lot of polyphenols, which have antioxidant properties and can improve cardiovascular health. Polyphenols also have anti-inflammatory properties that can contribute to better brain health. The compounds in red wine can increase levels of good cholesterol while lowering that of bad cholesterol. One study found that drinking wine had a positive effect on bone mineral density in both men and women. However, it is important to note that excessive drinking can have a negative effect on bone function and brain health. Experts recommend that women consume at most one five-ounce glass of red wine a day. Men can consume two glasses. If you do not already drink, it is not advised to start drinking wine solely for the potential health benefits. Polyphenols can also be found in grapes, nuts, and dark chocolate, so you can still get their benefits without drinking wine

Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor. Simple & Sassy runs every other Sunday. She can be reached at

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Online Editor/Calendar Editor

Samie Hartley is the Napa Valley Register online editor and social media manager. She also assembles the community calendar. Her column Simple & Sassy runs on alternating Sundays.

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