It was recently brought to my attention that November 16 is National Birth Control Day. The National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy celebrates National Birth Control Day by asking people to thank birth control.
The purpose behind the day is to talk about stigma around taking birth control and explaining the benefit it has for women on multiple levels. The girls from the MTV show, Teen Mom, have even open up about their experiences for the campaign.
The first time someone I knew mentioned they were on birth control was in high school. She said she was taking “The Pill” because her period symptoms were so bad, she would pass out from them.
According to youngwomenshealth.org, teens and young adults are often prescribed birth control pills for irregular or absent menstrual periods, cramps, acne and various ovarian problems.
And why should we say #thxbirthcontrol? Because birth control matters. Birth control gives women the ability to plan or prevent pregnancies. The National Campaign website states that “the access to birth control is directly linked to benefit to women, men, children, and society, including more educational and economic opportunities, healthier babies, more stable families, and reduced taxpayer burden.”
Now that we’re heading into a Trump presidency, preserving the right to birth control is more important than ever. Days after Trump unfortunately defeated Hillary Clinton; he announced he was appointing Steve Bannon to be his chief White House strategist. Up until this point Brannon had been CEO of Breitbart News, an outlet for the alt-right movement. What is the alt-right movement, you ask? Oh, just a group of radical nationalists, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and anti-Semites.
(check them out here)
The website is known for publishing racist, sexist articles, including one titled, “Birth Control Makes Women Unattractive and Crazy.”
Many news outlets, including NPR, have reported that after the election results, women are rushing to get long-term birth control options, like IUDs, according to a spike on the subject on social media. Google even saw a spike in search terms like “IUD” and “birth control” in the days following that fateful Tuesday.
Planned Parenthood says “the broad positive impact of birth control on the U.S. economy is one reason why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention named family planning, including access to modern contraception, one of the 10 great public health achievements of the 20th century.”
Birth control may not be for everyone and the history of how it became possible isn’t a happy one and is often overlooked when talking about birth control pills. During the early production of the pill, women in Puerto Rico were essentially used as “guinea pigs” when it came to testing.
According to the PBS series, “The Pill,” Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory, “was one of the most densely populated areas in the world, and officials supported birth control as a form of population control in the hopes that it would stem Puerto Rico’s endemic poverty.”
In later years, the team who developed the pill, including John Rock and Gregory Pincus, would be accused of lying to and exploiting poor women of color. This history should not go ignored when discussing birth control.
In spite of everything, it exists and it has a purpose. The women who take it shouldn’t feel ashamed for using it. Just like women shouldn’t be ashamed of having babies. It all comes down to one thing: CHOICE.
Women shouldn’t be shamed about taking care of their bodies. According to guttmacher.org, some 62% of all women of reproductive age are currently using a contraceptive method. The use of birth control, whether pill or another method, is a normal part of life and should not be a taboo or debated by old, white politicians.
The fact that I’m pro-choice doesn’t mean I want all women to have abortions. This seems to be the misconception when it comes to the argument. My belief is that women should have a choice and women seem to have to be constantly fighting for the right to have that choice.
Want to help? Contact Planned Parenthood to donate to the organization or for more information on how you can offers ways to help out if they can’t donate, like volunteering to be an escort for women coming to their offices.