The white-walled room suddenly seemed smaller as I worked up the courage to spit out the words: “I was wondering … could I go on the pill?”
I had discussed it a few times at home with my mom and while comfortable and excited about my decision, I was still nervous when it came time to ask my doctor if she would write me a prescription for birth control. Every time I talked to someone about wanting to start the pill– my mom, my doctor – I felt the need to immediately back up my desire, grasping at reasons for validation that others would listen to. “My period hasn’t been regular since I first got it and I’m sick of it”, “I can’t take the terrible cramping and bleeding for eight days at a time anymore”, “I heard hormones in birth control help lessen the effects of polycystic ovarian syndrome”: every time the subject came up, excuses tumbled out of my mouth as easily as my cheeks burned a ripe cherry red.
While they were all valid reasons (and most importantly, MY reasons), they all felt like excuses as I insisted on why I needed the pill. I thought everyone would assume I wanted the prescription for other reasons, more obvious reasons, and what would my mother think? My father, if he found them? (Ironically enough, he often delivers them to me now.)
Despite my discomfort, my doctor didn't even look up as she started filling out the form to send to the pharmacy. I didn’t need excuses or a laundry list of justifications; she just looked up from her paper and started explaining how the pill works and I breathed a sigh of relief.
It took me a long time to become comfortable with the thought that I was allowed to go on birth control for whatever reason I wanted or needed. The shame I originally felt about asking to go on the pill enrages me now; I wasn’t worried about my needs and desires, but rather the opinions of others who would possibly judge me on the grounds that I appeared to be a sexually active young woman. And what kind of BS is that – that we condition girls and women to be ashamed of not only their sexuality, but their health needs? My birth control is for me and only me, for whatever reason I want, whenever I so choose. It isn’t yours, or hers, or his, or theirs; it isn’t any of anyone else’s business and it certainly isn’t political.
My ability to access birth control has allowed me to take ownership of myself and add an aspect of stability to my hectic life. For some women, yes, it prevents unwanted pregnancy. For others, though, it aids in alleviation of chronic illness (i.e. endometriosis) and has saved the lives of suffering women. Every birth control story is different and should be respected, and interfering with access to birth control as a way to maintain and uphold “morality” in the eyes of some is a direct assault to the health needs of all. It is a selfish and uneducated move that lawmakers should think long and hard about: why do you think government should have a say in what happens between a woman and her doctor? Does cutting off access to medication women need sound okay to you? Just a few things to consider before making an issue of women’s healthcare into another needless pro-life vs. pro-choice fight.