Listen to the Call:
PO BOX 8305
WHITE CLOUD, MI 49349
TAPE – 316
(Dialing, phone ringing 2x)
CLINIC: Planned Parenthood. This is Deb. How may I help you?
CALLER: Hi. Yeah. I was wondering if you guys do abortions there.
CLINIC: We do not. We can do pregnancy tests and let people know they’re pregnant and give them information about where they could go. But we don’t provide abortions here.
CALLER: Oh, okay. So if I came in for a pregnancy test do you have to be a specific age for that? I’ll be 14 in March.
CLINIC: Well, you can get a pregnancy test no matter what your age is. But in order to get one in Michigan if you’re a teenager, until you’re 18 you need permission from a parent or a guardian.
CALLER: Well, my boyfriend’s 22. Could he just give you permission?
CLINIC: No, it would have to be a parent or a guardian. That’s just for the abortion part. To get a pregnancy test you don’t need permission. But to terminate, yes. You would have to have permission. You can go through a special procedure where you go to the court and you ask a judge to let you make that decision. And it’s done privately, so your parents don’t even need to know. So there is a way you can get an abortion without their knowledge, but it’s a special procedure you have to go through.
CALLER: How much does that cost?
CLINIC: Abortions —
CALLER: Well, like the —
CLINIC: Oh that? No, that’s free to you. Abortions cost between 350 and 400 depending on how far along you are. How late are you for a period right now?
CALLER: Well, my last period was like December 14th.
CLINIC: If you’re more than 12 weeks pregnant, then the price is higher than that though.
CALLER: Okay. Well, my boyfriend said he would pay for it.
CLINIC: So you’re 13 right now?
CALLER: Yeah. I’ll be 14 in March.
CLINIC: In March?
CLINIC: Okay. So do you want to plan to come in for a test?
CALLER: Yeah, but I need to call him to see when he could take me? He was going to take me. Is that okay?
CLINIC: Yeah, sure, no problem. We are open tomorrow, but we’re not open Friday, Saturday or Sunday. If you came in tomorrow that would be fine, and we could do it —
CALLER: Like tomorrow afternoon?
CLINIC: Sure. If you come before 4:00, then we could go ahead and do the test for you tomorrow.
CALLER: Okay. Well, you guys wouldn’t have to tell anybody about anything?
CLINIC: That depends.
CALLER: What do you mean?
CLINIC: Well, I mean not necessarily about you being pregnant. But when you’re talking to me about you being 13 and him 22, that’s a different issue.
CALLER: Who would you have to tell?
CLINIC: It’s illegal for him to have sex with you because he’s an adult.
CALLER: Why is it illegal? I mean, we’re in love. We’re going to get married.
CLINIC: I know. But you’re 13. And so the state says that you can’t make decisions like that when you’re younger than 16. It’s a gray area, and I really can’t tell anything without talking to you directly, person to person kind of thing.
CALLER: Well, would you guys tell if I came in?
CLINIC: It’s a possibility. And I say that very hesitantly because I don’t want you to not come in. I mean, it’s important if you pregnant that you get —
CALLER: Well, I just don’t want to get him in trouble or anything.
CLINIC: I understand that. Do your parents know about your relationship with him?
CALLER: Well, they know him, but they just don’t like him.
CLINIC: Yeah. They don’t know you guys are having sex or anything?
CALLER: No, not at all.
CLINIC: Sure, sure. And I understand that you care a lot about him. The problem is because he’s so much older than you and because in the law’s eyes you’re still considered a child even though you’re agreeing to it. I can’t say that they would prosecute him for that. I’m just saying that it becomes a gray area for us or anywhere you go no matter where you go. If you go for health care anywhere and you tell them, then it’s a possibility that it’s going to raise a lot of red flags for people.
CALLER: Well, how could I get a pregnancy test if he can’t bring me in? I don’t have any way else to get there.
CLINIC: He can bring you in. I mean, that’s not a problem.
CALLER: But would you guys tell on him if he was there?
CLINIC: It doesn’t matter if he’s there or not. If you tell me that you’re having sex with somebody’s who’s 22 and you’re 13, there’s a good possibility we would have to report that.
CALLER: What if I didn’t say anything?
CLINIC: That’s what I’m afraid you’re going to do (laughing), and that’s why I didn’t want to have to tell you that. But I felt like I needed to be honest with you too. It’s important that you get care, and I don’t want to frighten you off from getting care. That’s the primary thing. And like I said, it’s a very gray area. Even though the state says 16, they of course aren’t going to go after a girl who’s 15 if her boyfriend’s 19, that kind of thing. A lot of it has to do with the age difference. So you guys are looking at nine years age difference. He’s an adult person.
CALLER: Well, if I wasn’t pregnant after we do the pregnancy test, do you have birth control there that I could do?
CALLER: We sure do.
CALLER: Would you have to tell anybody that I was on birth control?
CLINIC: No. Teenagers do not need consent, even at 13, to get on birth control. No problem.
CALLER: Oh, okay. So you wouldn’t have to report it to anyone?
CLINIC: Can’t guarantee that.
CLINIC: And I know that as I say that, there’s a good possibility that you’re not going to show up for your pregnancy test, especially when you talk to him because that could frighten him to, if he thought that he was going to be reported. But when you tell me that you’re 13 and he’s 22, it makes my heart hurt. It makes me sad. And he may be the greatest guy in the world.
CALLER: Yeah. I mean, he’s a sweetheart.
CLINIC: But the reality is he’s 22 and you’re 13, and with a nine-year age difference like that, he is an adult having sex with a child.
CALLER: Well, is there anyplace else that I could go?
CLINIC: Sure. I mean, there’s lots of places. But I’m not alone in that. By law, we are required to report instances where children are being exploited I guess would be the best word. It’s a fancy word, but it basically means that someone may be taking advantage of the situation.
CALLER: But nobody’s taking advantage of me. I mean, we’re in love. We’re going to get married.
CLINIC: Well, you can’t get married without permission before you’re 18. And that’s a long way off for you.
CALLER: Oh. I mean, he’s not taking advantage of me.
CLINIC: I understand that. It’s just that legally it’s not seen that way because — because there’s such an age difference, because he’s an adult and you are 13, it’s kind of automatically assumed that he’s taking advantage of you because of that age difference; that he’s using his adult status to kind of take advantage of the situation. So that’s how the court looks at it, how the legal system looks at it. And by law, anywhere you go — no matter whether it’s to your doctor, to your high school counselor, anywhere — if you report that, then that’s a possibility.
CALLER: Should I just not tell anybody?
CLINIC: No, I don’t think so, because I would hate to see you not get health care. It’s a problem. You need to find out whether you’re pregnant. And if you’re not pregnant, you surely need to be on birth control. So it’s kind of like a double-edge thing. And there are no guarantees he would be in trouble. Surely I would imagine they would listen to your side of it.
I mean, that must be something that has crossed his mind. I can’t believe it has not crossed his mind that he could get in trouble for your relationship. Has he never said anything like that before? He’s never asked you to keep your relationship with him quiet or anything like that?
CALLER: Well, I don’t —
CLINIC: I mean, other than from your parents, which makes sense. But he’s never said to you, you can’t tell anybody about us or anything like that?
CALLER: Well, he just doesn’t want anyone to know.
CLINIC: That’s why.
CALLER: But he loves me.
CLINIC: I know he does. I’m sure he cares about you. But he also knows the reality that he could get in trouble for your relationship. And that’s why he’s asking you to keep quiet about it.
CALLER: Is there anything that I could do? I’m just scared. I don’t know what to do.
CLINIC: I know. I know. This is a very difficult time. I just felt like I needed to be up front with you too. I really don’t want to see you run away from getting your health care.
CALLER: Well, I have a cousin that lives in Chicago. Is it different there?
CLINIC: Probably not. I mean, rules from state to state differ somewhat, but basic rules are not going to be different. If at any point your relationship with him comes into the open, there is a possibility that he could get into trouble. And that could be if you tried to get married, if you wanted to just have a baby, if you decided to have an abortion. Any part of that could force that to happen.
Has he told you that he wants you to get birth control or doesn’t want you to get —
CALLER: Yeah, he wants me to. We can’t go through all this again.
CLINIC: And you said December was your last period, huh?
CALLER: Yeah. So we’re like really scared.
CLINIC: Yeah, I don’t blame you. Well, I think you need to have a real serious discussion with him about it. And he’ll probably say, yeah, I’ll know.
CALLER: Well, that’s all we’ve been talking about lately.
CLINIC: I mean about him getting into trouble though. That’s the part I’m talking about, that as we talked, that this is what kind of came out in our conversation. But you need health care too. And that’s very important. And even if you weren’t going to get an abortion and you wanted to just keep this baby yourself, at your age you need health care as soon as you can. So no matter which way you go, you need to be seen fairly quickly.
CALLER: Well, what do you think I should do then?
CLINIC: I’d love you to come in (chuckle). I really want you to come in and get a test.
CALLER: But you would have to tell, right?
CLINIC: I have to say it’s pretty strong that I would, yeah. I feel almost as stuck as you. I can’t positively as stuck as you about this. It would have been very easy for me to lie to you and just tell you, okay, yeah come in, bring him too, one big party. And that wouldn’t have been honest of me to do that. And so I don’t want to do that.
CALLER: Okay. Thank you.
CLINIC: But please, please don’t stay away from health care because of this. Now I know you love him. If he loves you he’s going to want the best for your health. And that’s not going to be hiding. It’s going to be coming forward. And if he loves you and he’s not afraid of that, then he’s going to step up to the plate and take responsibility, one way or the other. He’s going to take responsibility for the relationship, he’s going to take responsibility if you’re pregnant.
CALLER: Well, could he go to jail and not be there ever again?
CLINIC: No, it’s not something you go away for life for or anything like that. I don’t know what kind of trouble he could get into. Because surely, the court system takes into account the fact that he did not force you. It’s not like it was a rape. Legally they use the word “rape.” Sometimes they call it statutory rape because you’re having sex before you’re old enough to consent to it. But they would definitely take that into consideration and just look at the case. I can’t make you any promises one way or the other.
CLINIC: Okay? But I really would like to have you come in.
CLINIC: So talk to him. Please come in. I will not be here tomorrow, but there’s another woman, Melissa, who will know about this, the basic information about you needing a pregnancy test here. And she’s a wonderful person to talk to, so you’ll find her very helpful too.
CALLER: Okay. But you won’t tell her about my boyfriend or anything?
CLINIC: I can’t say that.
CALLER: All right.
CLINIC: Give us a call and come in please.
CLINIC: All righty. Bye bye.