It's Time to Prepare to Protect Your Reproductive Health
If you’ve been conscious at all within the last few months (or the last two years), you know that there is a new Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh, being vetted by the Senate. You also probably know that President Trump promised to appoint a Supreme Court Justice who would overturn Roe v. Wade.
What you should also know is that Brett Kavanaugh, in his testimony, referred to birth control as “abortion inducing”. If you know anything about birth control or abortion, you know that birth control, including emergency contraception, does not cause abortion. In fact, it prevents pregnancy, which means it also prevents the need for abortions. However, misinformation abounds, and Brett Kavanaugh is likely willfully ignorant about birth control. The problem with this ignorance, though, is that it puts birth control at risk. We already have the Trump Administration fighting the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act. If we have a majority conservative Supreme Court, the accessibility of birth control could be fought (and lost) there as well. (Listen to Dan Savage’s rant about this.)
The Supreme Court should not be used as a tool to affect all Americans, but that is where we are. It is usually where the buck stops when lawmakers are going rogue. In just the last several years, the Supreme Court has struck down the Defense of Marriage Act, which disallowed gay marriage, and it upheld the Affordable Care Act, which works to provide affordable healthcare to all Americans. These are scenarios where the Court protected American citizens from partisanship. The more conservative and politically-connected justices that get appointed to the Court, the worse off we all are.
Everything right now feels like a dumpster fire, and it’s really easy to feel helpless and hopeless. I know I feel like that a lot of the time recently. But there are preemptive steps that you can take to protect your reproductive health.
Find An Employer That Supports Women
This might seem straight forward, but there are a lot of companies out there that don’t want to pay for your birth control. They don’t want to pay for your pre- and post-natal care. They don’t want to pay for your maternity leave. This puts their female employees (and families in general!) at risk of not being able to afford their own healthcare, which could mean they go into debt, forego other important bills, or give up that part of their healthcare altogether. It also means they don’t have control over their own health, bodies, and life.
When you’re interviewing for jobs, find out about the company’s policies on maternity (and paternity or general “family”) leave. Find out if their health insurance plan covers birth control and/or abortion (though the abortion part will likely be difficult for you to find out). While you’re at it, find out about their sexual harassment policies, since harassment and it’s fallout can hurt you financially, emotionally, and physically.
Get an IUD or Implant
If you’re worried about having access to birth control or abortion during this administration and beyond, it might be a good idea to look into long-term contraception.
Implants can last up to 3 years and IUDs can last up to 10 years, depending on the type that you choose. As of now, unless you work for a “religious” employer, birth control is still covered by insurance. If you know you won’t want a child between now and 3-10 years from now, it might be a good time to get an implant or IUD inserted while it’s still covered.
Of course, each person reacts differently to all birth control options. Talk to your doctor to decide what’s best for you. I got the Nexplanon implant 3 years ago and my body didn’t react very well. I decided after about a year to get it removed and go back on the pill. I’m still sad about it, because I loved not having to take a daily pill. But you have to do what is right for you!
Stock Up On The Morning-After Pill
Most women who have sex with men probably know what it’s like to have a pregnancy scare or have their birth control fail in some way. Pills like Plan B are a great medication that prevents pregnancy by temporarily stopping the release of an egg from the ovary, preventing fertilization, and/or preventing a fertilized egg from attaching to the uterus. Taking the morning-after pill can reduce your likelihood of getting pregnant by 75-89% if you take it within three days of intercourse.
There are many different morning-after pill options now. Some of them are more or less effective depending on how much you weigh, so do your research. The most well-known option is Plan B, but there is also Ella, My Way, Take Action, etc.
The morning-after pill isn’t cheap. It costs about $40 per box (depending on the brand), so this isn’t a viable option for all women. It used to only be available if you got a prescription from your doctor, but now it’s available over the counter. If you’re worried that this medication will be taken away from us, it is a good idea to stock up on it. They even sell them on Amazon.
Start a Reproductive Health Savings Account
As scary as this is, sometimes all of the above might not be enough. If you know for a fact that you don’t want to become a parent now or ever, you have to financially plan for that. If Roe v. Wade or Griswold v. Connecticut is overturned, you’ll need back up cash.
When abortion was illegal before 1974, that didn’t mean no one was getting abortions. When birth control was illegal, that didn’t mean no one was trying to prevent pregnancy. It meant that women (usually white ones) with money had access to these services because they could afford to travel and pay a premium. Low-income women and women of color didn’t necessarily have those options. So they either took care of things themselves, or they paid non-reputable people to help them. This led to injury, infection, infertility, trauma, and death.
I hope we won’t be forced back to that time, but in case we do, you need to protect yourself by creating this type of emergency savings account.
Have I made you scared or angry enough? Take action now!
Call your senators and urge them to vote “no” on Brett Kavanaugh. Even if you think your senator is voting no, call them anyway. You never know when they might sway to pressure from their colleagues, so we need to pressure them ourselves.
Donate to Planned Parenthood or your local affiliate.
Donate to your local abortion fund like the DC Abortion Fund.
Talk to your doctor about your birth control options.
Start your emergency savings account, if you haven’t already.
PS: To make things worse, there are now sexual assault accusations against Brett Kavanaugh. Urge your Senators to believe women and call for his nomination to be withdrawn. #BelieveWomen