Wednesday, July 20, 2011
Why Birth Control Will Make Me a Better Mom
When I first heard about the blog carnival that is being put on by Planned Parenthood and the National Women’s Law Center, I knew that I had to participate. I love birth control! Allow me to share just a little information on why I think that birth control should be as readily available as possible, including a $0 co-pay under insurance plans.
I first thought about birth control when I was seventeen. I hadn’t had sex yet, but knew that it was a possibility. I was pretty rational, even as an often-irrational teenager, and started asking my friends about being on “the pill.”
It wasn’t too hard to broach the subject because my friends and I talked pretty freely, even about private things. My friend Lisa told me that she knew of a clinic in my small city that could do exams, prescribe birth control, and dispense the prescription from the office, all based on donations. I asked for her help in making contact with them, which she assisted did, and I made my first appointment, which she attended with me. I wasn’t too scared because I have never had a problem with doctors, but it gave me a lot of anxiety to make an appointment that my parents would not know about and to find time to go to the office when I wasn’t working or at school. I managed, I was lucky enough to have insurance, which they accepted, and everything went great.
I didn’t have any problems with the low-dose pill that I was first prescribed. The office changed brands a few times to save money, and all of them worked great for me. I did end up telling one of my parents, which was awkward and kind of funny. The whole situation was more awkward because I was living with my dad, who had recently remarried. I wasn’t comfortable talking to my new step-mom about the subject, so my dad approached me one day when my step mom saw that there were a few packs of spermicide in the garbage. I had never used them, but they were provided to me as an option when I first got on birth control, and the spermicides were kicking around my room for months before I tossed them in the garbage. My dad said he wanted to know if I needed his help getting on birth control, since the spermicide was clearly an indication of my interest in contraception. I laughed and said no, that I had already gone through the process to get on the pill through a clinic, and that I wasn’t having sex anyway, but wanted to be prepared.
My dad was shocked that I had taken the responsibility upon myself, relieved that I wasn’t yet having sex, and I think relieved that he didn’t have to say the word “vagina” at all. I laughed because it was kind of uncomfortable, but I knew that my dad would have taken me to see the family doctor and would have paid for my co-pay and would have done his best to answer any questions I had.
Now, it is eight years later, and I am still on birth control. I finished high school, studied abroad, got married, got my Bachelor’s degree, and moved out the state, all made easier by the fact that I am in control of my sexual reproduction. I know that many women accomplish these same things in addition to having children, but I never had to sacrifice any of my responsibilities or career aspirations or time with my husband in order to take care of a child. I know that I will have a child eventually, and I am so looking forward to being a mom, but I am going to do it on my own terms, when my husband and I decide together that we are ready and able to be responsible for another person. At that point I will have already gotten my degree and started my career, which will create a better life for my child.
This is why I am passionate about making birth control easily available. Twenty or thirty dollars may not seem like much to some people, but to those who are working to make ends meet, underemployed or responsible for other family members, that co-pay may make birth control unavailable to them. They may have to choose between the prescription and another necessity. Without birth control, women face the possibility of unexpected pregnancies, which can lead to inability to continue their education, much greater financial stress, and career limitations.
Men should be concerned about birth control, too. Often this is thought of as just a women’s issue, but men are expected to support children. A man in a relationship with a woman who is having an unplanned pregnancy may also have to sacrifice his education, financial stability, and career goals in order to help his family.
The good news is that birth control may become a prescription with a mandatory $0 co-pay. Today I am asking that Obama Administration officials and all involved parties hear us and make birth control more available so that women can have control of their lives and that people everywhere can decide when they are ready to become parents.