I'm not one for writing love letters, but if I were, I'd pen one to birth control. Because I was empowered to determine the timing and spacing of my children, I've been able to pursue and achieve academic success, build a career and travel the world. Without the Pill (and now IUD), I wouldn't be the woman I am today. Which is why I take Trump's attack on birth control personally.
Last week, the administration announced new rules that effectively gut the Affordable Care Act's birth control mandate. Under the ACA, FDA-approved methods of birth control-including hormonal and barrier methods, implanted devices, emergency contraception and more-were covered as preventative care at no cost. The resulting impacts were immediately felt: 62.4 million women gained access to birth control coverage, saving an estimated $1.4 billion in the first year alone. That's a lot of money that can be re-invested into our economy, and enables women to help cover living expenses, education, rent, and more.
But now, under Trump's Health and Human Services department, a wide range of entities-including both nonprofits and for-profit companies-may claim religious or moral objections to providing contraception coverage. In other words, your reproductive health and freedom are at the mercy of your boss's beliefs.
These rules fly in the face of evidence-based science and will undoubtedly lead to a rise in unintended pregnancies at a time when abortion access is under siege. Low-income women, young women, and many more depend on birth control for self-determination (which can produce socioeconomic ripple effects, benefiting families and communities at large), as well as treating medical conditions. And without Obamacare, birth control can be very expensive: the Pill can cost up to $50 per month and the upfront cost of an IUD hovers around $1,000.
But none of this matters to our ideologically driven administration; science, facts and making strides to improve women's lives mean nothing to them. Those at the helm don't care how rolling back the birth control mandate will negatively affect women. If anything, it makes them giddy; this is yet another way for the GOP to punish women for having-and enjoying-sex.
Indeed, the so-called "reasoning" offered in support of the HHS rules is that birth control leads to "risky sexual behaviors" in women. (It doesn't). Aside from being inaccurate, this line of thinking belies politicians' outright disdain for sexually active, independent women. The GOP isn't trying to "protect" us in some twisted, paternalistic way; they're livid that we are embracing our sexualities, are empowered to pursue our dreams and don't buy into their 1950s ideal of womanhood.
To which I say, fuck that. And I hope you do, too-loudly and often.
Because not all is lost-yet. We need your voice! The Trump administration is still required to accept and consider all comments made within a 60-day public comment period before making these rules permanent.
The Center for Reproductive Rights-which has filed a challenge to the proposed rules-has created an online form as a quick and easy way for concerned Americans to make their voices heard on the issue. Filling out the form literally takes less than one minute.
So please, click the link. Share your story. Tell the Department of Health and Human Services why you think these new rules are offensive and unconstitutional, how they clearly discriminate against women, and how it's insanely hypocritical that Viagara is subsidized but not birth control.
And while you're at it, take to social media. Share the link and tell Trump to keep his tiny #HandsOffMyBC.
Contributing Editor: Maureen Shaw
Maureen Shaw is a multimedia journalist, activist and proud mama of two. Her writing has appeared widely online, including Quartz, The Atlantic, Huffington Post, Rewire, ThinkProgress, Parents.com and more. She has also contributed to OURS Magazine, an international cultural magazine, and her essay on triumphing in the aftermath of rape is featured in the book Making Out Like A Virgin: Sex, Desire and Intimacy After Sexual Trauma.
Maureen tweets prolifically at @MaureenShaw.