Nov. 10 marks “Thanks, Birth Control Day,” dedicated to turning up the volume and turning down the controversy around birth control. It’s also a great time to celebrate what birth control has meant to Americans: the ability to plan, prevent and space pregnancies; more educational and economic opportunities; healthier babies; more stable families; and a reduced taxpayer burden.
As a 28-year-old in my senior year of college, being smart and responsible about my sexual health is one of the most important things I can do. I’m not ready for children anytime soon, so having access to affordable birth control matters. I know that using birth control consistently is a necessary part of pursuing—and reaching—my goals.
Birth control has helped so many people. Since the birth control pill was approved in 1960, the number of women in the workforce has more than tripled. College graduation rates have gone up more than five times in the past 50 years.
And it’s not just women who have been helped by birth control. According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy, “The ability to plan, prevent and space pregnancies is directly linked to benefits to women, men, children and society—including more educational and economic opportunities, healthier babies, more stable families and a reduced taxpayer burden.” So can someone explain to me again why there are members of Congress who want to reduce access to birth control by defunding Planned Parenthood, repealing the Affordable Care Act or eliminating the nation’s family-planning program?
The fact is that birth control is basic health care for women. The average woman will spend about 30 years of her life trying to avoid pregnancy. “Among adult American women who have had sex, 99 percent have used birth control,” according to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen & Unplanned Pregnancy. “It’s a normal part of life and should not be a taboo topic or the subject of political posturing.”
The good news is that, when it comes to birth control, there are lots of very effective and convenient options. And under the Affordable Care Act, insurance companies are required to cover the full range of prescription birth control methods without a copay. More affordable birth control means that more women can pick the method that works best for them and can better prevent unintended pregnancies, plan their families and space out healthy, wanted pregnancies.
And whether you have insurance or not, Planned Parenthood can help you get affordable birth control. If your parents are insured, you are likely able to remain on their policy until you are 26. If you don’t have insurance, you can enroll in affordable health plans now through Jan. 31, 2016.
So this Nov. 10, I’m saying, “Thanks, birth control!” Thanks for making my future family the healthiest one possible. Thanks for helping me take care of my health and my body. Thanks for helping me plan my life and live my dreams.
Brittany Moll is a Portland State liberal studies major who serves on the Multnomah County Leadership & Advocacy Team for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Oregon. To get involved, visit PPAOregon.org.