Polly Story is a Bridgercare donor. Her daughter, Allie Ferguson, is a Bridgercare volunteer. Allie talked with her mom about what Bridgercare means for their family.

Growing up on a ranch, my mom, Polly, was no stranger to conversations about family planning. At least when it came to the cows. As many Montanans know, sex and birth are a major part of life on a ranch.

But as the only daughter on the Paradise Valley cattle operation, there were few conversations about what family planning might mean for her.

“There wasn’t a clinic in Livingston, the closest town. And I never talked about this stuff with my parents.”

It wasn’t until a friend suggested they head into Bozeman to visit Bridgercare, then known as Family Planning of South-Central Montana, that Polly first accessed real education about her own body.

“I was able to walk out of my appointment with birth control and feel protected for the first time.”

In January 1991, as a student at MSU, the clinic would serve an important purpose again. She had just taken a home pregnancy test and it was positive. Immediately, Polly thought to return to the clinic that had helped her as a teen.

“I remember the nurse being very kind, she could see I was young and didn’t have a wedding ring. It was an overwhelming feeling that there was a life inside of me.”

Since then, Polly has always remembered and appreciated the little Bozeman clinic that helped her with the initial shock of an unplanned pregnancy. And as political attitudes towards reproductive health services threatened the type of space she benefited from, Polly decided to get involved.

“I learned about the campaign to defund things like Planned Parenthood and I had to do something.”

Now a proud contributor to Bridgercare, she hopes women – especially in rural areas and low income homes – can always rely on the clinic to help them choose safe birth control or figure out what to do in those first overwhelming days of pregnancy.

“I realized this resource was the only thing that would keep women safe and free to make smart decisions about their own bodies and lives. There is still a very conservative mindset in Montana so we need to protect access to this for the young women in our community.”

As her daughter, I am endlessly thankful for the support Bridgercare gave my mom in order to keep me safe and healthy. It inspired me to volunteer here and advocate for better access to reproductive health for all women.

(Below: Allie and Polly Story at the 2018 HAVEN Mother’s Day 5k Run in Bozeman.)