Having the ability to decide, if and when, to have children is a pivotal choice in a woman’s life, and an awareness of reproductive rights is crucial.
Reproductive rights are defined as the “right to plan a family, terminate a pregnancy, use contraceptives, learn about sex education in public schools, and gain access to reproductive health services.” Research has shown that these rights, and a woman’s ability to make decisions about a her own body, results in positive outcomes. Benefits include: career growth, increased wages, ability to continue education, etc.
Taking away a woman’s reproductive choice could be the difference between excelling in work and gaining financial independence or being stuck in poverty. In 1972, the United States Supreme Court legalized birth control for all women, married or not. That decision was a turning point that led to what is commonly known as “The Sexual Revolution.” Before the sexual revolution, women were taught that “good girls don’t” engage in sexual behavior, while men were taught just the opposite.
Before the sexual revolution, an unplanned pregnancy would leave many women with the sole burden of taking care of a baby. Times have changed and modern medicine has improved. Birth control is available to almost anybody who needs it.
Women have gained rights they did not have in the past, and recently those rights have come under attack.
In October of 2017, President Donald Trump and his administration relaxed coverage for birth control, which allows employers to deny providing contraceptive coverage for religious or moral reasons. Millions of women rely on their insurance to cover contraception. With this rollback, millions of women have lost that coverage.
Kinsey Hasstedt from Guttmacher Institute states: “In his first year in office, Trump and his administration have brought an ideologically motivated and aggressive campaign against women’s sexual and reproductive rights to the White House.”
In an essay published on Vox, pediatrician Tracey Wilkinson says she has observed many situations where birth control has improved the lives of her patients.
“I have many patients who rely on it to prevent pregnancy so that they can finish their education. Parents of my younger patients also rely on contraception to ensure their pregnancies are planned. Some patients need birth control to regulate heavy or irregular periods. Access to birth control has been proven over and over again to be good not only for women’s health but also for the health of their families. Planned pregnancies result in healthier pregnancies and higher educational and economic attainment for both parents. But I am now worried that some of them won’t be able to afford birth control without health insurance coverage.”
Doctor Wilkinson’s experience represents one of the millions of stories women have shared on how access to affordable contraception has changed their life. With such a necessary service, one wonders why politicians feel the need to take it away.
Contraceptives are an essential basic of health care that the majority of women will use in their lifetime. Failing to provide contraceptive coverage overwhelmingly affects women and may violate the Civil Rights Act under sex discrimination.
Those wanting to get more involved in protecting access to contraceptives and other reproductive services can visit Planned Parenthood Action for more information.