This whole Hobby Lobby decision makes my head and my heart ache. Especially combined with all the recent restrictions on Planned Parenthood clinics; this past year has been a bad one for women's health.
So I feel the need to tell #mybirthcontrolstory so that maybe people who don't understand why these issues are so important will start to see what the fuss is about. It's about people, it's about health, it's about an individual's rights.
And this one is about me:
I had been on various forms of hormonal birth control (think "the pill") since high school. The pill, for me, was much more about regulating my period and getting rid of my awful cramps than actual pregnancy prevention, but as I continued into my 20s pregnancy prevention became much more important (although I still used the pill as medicine because horrible periods don't just go away once you turn 20).
When I had health insurance, I would get my medication from my doctor. When I didn't have health insurance I would visit Planned Parenthood. They were a godsend, I could get an exam (which screens for cancer & STDs) and get the medication I needed at a price I could afford. I don't know what I would have done without them, because birth control isn't exactly cheap. I tried a variety of methods then - the pill, the ring, the patch - trying to find the medication that worked best for me.
Shortly before Bryan and I got married, I started having these dizzy spells and weird "floaters" in my vision. I went to see an opthamologist and after the exam he said (with grave concern in his voice):
"Are you on birth control?"
My answer was yes... there was a pause, and then this "You need to see your doctor. Today."
So I called. I couldn't get an appointment (this was campus health insurance, I was a student at CSU Sacramento and didn't have employer health insurance). The nurse who took my call told me, without mincing words "Stop taking your birth control until you see the doctor. It could kill you."
So I stopped.
During my appointment, my doctor informed me that my symptoms - which were more numerous than the dizziness & vision problems - meant that I could never take synthetic hormones again without putting myself at risk for stroke. My birth control options shrunk considerably.
So my doctor and I decided on a diaphragm. I was getting married and we wanted kids at some point, so the IUD was out.
B and I married 2 months later. Penelope was conceived 3 months after that. So much for effective birth control.
After Penny, our insurance situation didn't improve. I had graduated, I was working as a nanny (no insurance), and the insurance Bryan got through work was terrible and limited. The diaphragm was out, we couldn't afford an IUD, and I couldn't take hormonal birth control.
Hence, 7 months after Penelope's birth, we got pregnant with Griffin.
I know at this point, some people would say things like "well, that's what happens when you have sex" or "if you didn't want a baby you shouldn't have had sex." I don't understand these perspectives. A part of a healthy marriage (and a healthy relationship) is sex. It is normal. It is natural. Yes, sometimes pregnancy is a result, but as it's my body and my marriage, I should be able to make decisions about when I want to get pregnant. Birth control allows me to do this.
Griffin was born 9 months later.
I do not regret having my son (or daughter) even though both were unplanned. But having 2 babies so close together was difficult. I suffered from PPD, I lost my job because of my pregnancy... I was lucky to qualify for WIC (which was both helpful and a sometimes humiliating experience) and the kids were able to qualify for MediCal (neither B nor I could).
Again, Planned Parenthood came to my rescue. I was finally able to get an IUD at a price I could afford (free).
When I finished my Masters program and got a job in Salinas, we all breathed a huge sigh of relief. We were all covered. My insurance covers any form on birth control I need. We are lucky.
But so many women, who are just like me, are not so lucky. They don't have the family support in place to be able to handle unplanned pregnancies, their state may have enacted legislature that forced the closing of Planned Parenthood clinics and thus they cannot access the birth control and annual exams they need, they make work for a company like Hobby Lobby who uses belief instead of science to make decisions about what is, and is not, appropriate medical coverage.
These women deserve better. They deserve a government who doesn't infantalize them, but rather allows them to make informed decisions for themselves. They deserve an employer who keeps their noses out of their employee's health care decisions.
They deserve better.
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