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The Pill


Women’s rights in the United States are under attack again and this week, birth control has found itself as the target. Friday, Oct. 6, the Trump Administration issued new rules allowing insurance companies the right to deny women coverage for contraceptives such as birth control. These new rules repeal those laid out in the Affordable Care Act which required birth control to be covered without co-pay. The ACA has given 62.4 million women access to birth control and saved women $1.4 billion in 2013 alone according to Planned Parenthood. Stripping this requirement of insurance companies, any company can claim exemption by stating it is against their religious believes or simply “on the basis of moral conviction which is not based in any particular religious belief.”  This attack on women’s health, however, is not based in in religious believes nor moral conviction. It is based on ignorance.

This can be seen in those coming to the defense of administrations actions. One man tweeted, “there’s no other reason to why a girl uses birth control other than to have sex with countless guys without having to worry about getting pregnant.” Birth control emerged around the 1960’s yet over the period of nearly 60 years, people are still holding on to the belief that birth control’s sole purpose is “risk free” sex. It’s time this myth is debunked and I asked women to help me do it.

One major reason women take birth control is for PMS relief. Periods wouldn’t be periods without the numerous side effects that make them unbearable. Symptoms vary from person to person but common symptoms include mood swings, breast soreness, weight gain, and bloating. Emily Miller, one woman I interviewed,  has only been taking birth control for three months now, but has already seen improvements. She started taking the pill to “regulate [her] period and acne, and ease [her] PMS”, which included “breakouts, severe headaches/migraines, nausea, and sore breasts”. Since starting, Miller noted she no longer gets headaches before her period, and the “nausea and hormonal breakouts have decreased significantly.” Miller, like many, would not be able to afford this medication if insurances companies refused to cover it. “I am a college student and I already have to pay for two other prescriptions.”

While cramps are another side effect of PMS, they can be so excruciating that they deserve their own category.  Essentially, the uterus just spent a month cleaning and decorating for an impending guest that never showed. And now it’s pissed. It’s tearing down decoration and destroying everything in its path in a blind fury. It is an indescribable pain. Yet most women continue to go about their daily activities as if nothing was wrong. Some women, however, have such severe cramps that it impedes their ability to function. This is the case for Erin Frances, who has been taking birth control for two years now. “I used to experience crippling period pains during which I couldn’t do anything other than lay on the ground. I fainted two times from it before I sought medical help.” Birth control has saved many, like Frances, from this pain by preventing ovulation and lightening periods through its hormonal control.

Another reason women take the pill is to prevent irregular periods and heavy flows. Camryn Greenhill has been taking birth control for about five years to solve this issue. While these symptoms didn’t stop her from living life, “it did make everyday activities absolutely awful”. She’d usually take “at least one day off that week from school”. Greenhill states she “loves being able to have complete control over [her] period.” When asked what she wants people who do not understand birth control to know, she responded “When a woman speaks, listen. Whether woman use it for periods or pain or to prevent pregnancy, it’s a serious medication that many women need at their disposal. And when a woman communications that need, she should not be judged or written off, she should be listened to and taken seriously and given what she needs. Those who don’t understand should learn and not stand in the way of those who do understand”.

Cancer prevention is another reason women take birth control, and one I know well. When I was 18, I had still not recieved my first period. While I was living the high life, beyond grateful I didn’t have to deal with some of the horror stories I had heard from friends, it did not seem normal. After consulting a doctor, I learned that I had a hormonal imbalance that if left unchecked, could lead to uterine cancer. Believe me when I say, I which I was not reliant on this medicine. It is not a luxury in my life, it is a necessity.

Lastly, birth control is used to prevent pregnancy. While, yes, there are many other reasons it is taken, using it for safe sex should not be dismissed as any less valid. Kacie Hanke takes birth control because she is sexually active and could not afford her previous contraceptives. If birth control’s price was raised because of insurances’ refusal to cover it, Hanke would no longer be able to afford the medication. “I barely afford my rent, car payments, and school as it is. The only reason I can afford it now is because I get it for free at planned parenthood”. Hanke also expresses she “would still remain sexually active”, despite no longer having birth control. What a woman chooses to do should not be regulated by anyone, especially not the federal government. The Trump administration’s new rule is not a way of protecting religious or moral values, it is a way of controlling women and what they do with their bodies. If you would like to take a stand against the Trump Administration’s attack on birth control, go to https://www.istandwithpp.org/take-action to get involved.

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