I was watching the news the other day and listening to many candidates talk about women’s reproductive health and their determination to outlaw contraception, which has become a very popular topic in politics now more than ever. It got me thinking, my rights as a woman and as a mother could be taken from me, the rights of young teens could be taken from them, the very culture of prevention could come to a screeching halt without the right to utilize prevention.
As I danced through my adolescence busy with friends, school, violin lessons, and track and field, my rights has a young woman had always remained constant. I started taking birth control in middle school to support the health of my skin. It was just another day at Briarwood Family Practice, when my mom took me to get my very first pink pack of pills. Everything about that day seemed normal, a part of life, a part of making healthy decisions for myself, with guidance from my mom and doctor.
“The desire to avoid or pursue pregnancy is only part of the general decision to use contraception” says The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy. “Other factors influence this decision as well. Some women use oral contraceptives to regulate their menstrual cycle. Other studies have shown links between the desire to become pregnant and the decision not to use contraceptives.”
The Contraceptive Access Initiative founded by Advocates for Youth states that “One study attributed 86 percent of the long-term decline in teen pregnancies to increased contraceptive use and 14 percent to increased abstinence. “ The right to accurate information about contraception and condoms and access to safe, confidential, and affordable family planning services is vital when it comes to sexually active teens, young adults, and families.
I have always taken comfort in knowing that I could grow my family when I was ready, as I did when I had my son 2 years ago. The right to decide when and how I was to start a family means everything to me. I want to make sure that I am doing everything I can for my child, and in order to do that I am constantly exercising my right to use of not use contraception in the decision to have more children now or later.
But this right is at risk. In a recent article from the New York Times, the Iowa Caucus revisits reproductive rights stating, “The Republican presidential contenders tried to outdo one another in attacking reproductive rights as they sought the support of caucusgoers from the religious right. The message from Iowa was crystal clear: Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Ron Paul, Jon Huntsman Jr., Newt Gingrich and Rick Perry all stand ready to restrict a woman’s right to make her own childbearing decisions and deny essential health care to millions of women.”
This cannot happen. I refuse to relinquish my right to contraceptives when making the decision that is best for my family.
I stand by the saying by Margaret Mead that we should “never doubt, a small group of concerned, committed citizens can change the world, indeed it’s the only thing that ever has. However, in this case we are NOT a small group, we are thousands upon thousands of women with the right to decide when and how to start a family, and together we can change the world, and then some.
Contact your elected officials and check your state house website to find out more information about what bills could be introduced this legislative session proposing restricted access to reproductive health information and resources in your state.
The National Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy:
The New York Times:
Advocates for Youth: