Over the winter break, I visited my gynecologist to talk birth control. We had a nice chat, joked about the snow and discussed treatment options for the horrible pain I was experiencing due to my possible diagnosis of endometriosis. Two Really, the choice was simple: a highly invasive surgery that might work for a year or so before my symptoms would return or try different kinds of birth control until something worked. For now? I opted for the birth control.
As I was leaving, with a referral to a doctor who carries the arm implant method of birth control I was now switching to from the pills, I paused and hesitantly asked the crucial question. How much is this going to cost me?
Her reply? The implant costs the doctor up to $900, but it’s free for me. For now. She urged me to make my appointment early, because that might not last much longer.
Already, the Republican-controlled Senate has rejected an amendment requiring insurance companies to continue covering birth control once the Affordable Care Act has been dismantled, according to TIME. In their eagerness to tear apart the ACA, the GOP has neglected to provide for the 55 million women who currently receive their birth control with no co-pay, as reported by the National Women’s Law Center.
Due to certain medical issues, I have been on some form of birth control since middle school and am intimately familiar with how expensive it can be. It is something that I have to use for my health; if I were to lose my access to it, my life would instantly become significantly harder and the side effects could haunt me for the rest of my life.
Now, as I look at a future of trying different methods of birth control to control my symptoms, I wonder at what point I won’t be able to afford it anymore. At what point, if birth control isn’t covered, can I expect to be unable to continue controlling the pain?
According to the Guttmacher Institute, approximately 62 percent of all reproductive-age women are currently using some form of birth control. Some 58 percent of women who use birth control do so for reasons other than just pregnancy prevention. These include reduction of menstrual pain (31 percent of users) and treatment of endometriosis (4 percent of users).
For a glimpse at the life of those suffering from endometriosis, an ailment that affects 10 percent of all women and can often only effectively be treated by the use of birth control, imagine chronic pain, fatigue, permanent scarring and heavy bleeding.
These are real symptoms causing real problems in the lives of women across the United States. Repealing Obamacare without providing a means for low-income women to continue receiving the birth control they need will leave millions of women without a way to find relief for their pain.
Taking away access to birth control is taking away women’s rights to control their own bodies. It is taking away the right to control our pain, to control our lifestyle and to control our future. It is taking away something absolutely essential to the quality of our lives. Half of Americans shouldn’t have to ask repeatedly for something that’s essential, they shouldn’t have to ask at all.
It’s time to move out of the 20th Century and realize that birth control is much more than the female version of a condom and that women are tired of having a representative group made up mostly of men who continuously reject proposals that have absolutely nothing to do with them.
Mr. Congressman, if you don’t want free birth control for yourself, that’s understandable, but when I’m cramping you need to take your hands off my contraceptives.