On Oct. 6, the Trump administration made moves to roll back on Obama-era policies that require employer health plans to pay for birth control. Employers will now be able to opt out of paying for birth control and other contraceptive methods on the grounds of “religious and moral objection.”
The news of these policy changes wasn’t shocking to me. Sure, the changes feel archaic, but men in politics wanting autonomy over women’s bodies didn’t end with the Affordable Care Act. Women’s reproductive health has always been a hot topic of public discussion, despite the subject being extremely personal. A woman’s decision about having children or using birth control is really no one else’s business.
Birth control is used for a number of medical reasons outside of preventing pregnancy: reducing or preventing acne, bone thinning, cysts in the breasts and ovaries, endometrial and ovarian cancers, infections in the ovaries, fallopian tubes and uterus, iron deficiency (anemia) and PMS (premenstrual syndrome). The demonization of birth control as this “un-Christian” entity allows politicians to push a narrative that allows businesses to get out of paying for the health of women’s bodies.
The first time I saw a doctor for birth control, I was 13 years old. Maybe that sounds strange, but I wasn’t seeking birth control pills to prevent pregnancy. It was typical for me to throw up the first day of my menstrual cycle. My period was extremely irregular and unpredictable. I was just a kid who was in a lot of pain for five days a month. The doctor prescribed me a combination pill to regulate my cycle. I noticed a total difference after the first month, and I didn’t have to be concerned about my cycle being irregular anymore.
I don’t tell that story often. It’s not the type of thing that tends to come up during dinner conversations, but I do think it’s an important story to share. We have to be willing to have open and candid conversations about our reproductive health. Talking about menstruation has been deemed taboo, despite the fact that 50 percent of the population will have a period at some point in their life. Not all periods are created equal. Before going on birth control, my cramps would be so painful, I would have to leave school early. And maybe I’m wrong, but I have a feeling that if more lawmakers had uteruses, there would be less conversation surrounding what I decide to do with mine.