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Dear Trump Administration, Birth Control Is More Than a Contraceptive

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Sometimes the news isn’t as straightforward as it’s made to seem. Elizabeth Cassidy, The Mighty’s News Intern, explains what to keep in mind if you see this topic or similar stories in your newsfeed. This is The Mighty Takeaway. 

On Friday, the Trump administration moved to pull back an Obama-era mandate that made birth control accessible without co-payments for millions of women. Now, employers do not have to cover birth control in their health insurance plans if they have a “sincerely held religious or moral objection,” senior agency officials told CNN.

With the mandate, 55 million women had access to free birth control, according to data from the Obama administration. According to The New York Times, hundreds of thousands of women could now lose the benefits they get under Affordable Care Act.

I see this as an attack on women’s health. As someone with polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS), the pill is one of the only effective medical treatments for me. PCOS is a hormonal imbalance condition that causes a whole host of issues like irregular periods, infertility and depression, and because the pill is essentially hormones, it helps alleviate my symptoms. PCOS affects about 1 in 10 women, so it is rather common.

“[The pill] has a lot of support for the period,” Dr. Sherry Ross, women’s health expert and author of “she-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women’s Intimate Health. Period,” told me. “It makes your period lighter or go away if needed. It helps with the flow and controlling of cramps. It also controls acne and balances hormones. With PCOS, it’s a combo of controlling irregular periods and hormone imbalance.”

Without my birth control pills, many symptoms can go unchecked. Some are cosmetic (yet still hard to deal with), like extra hair growth on the face and chest. Others are related to my physical wellbeing. Irregular periods could make me anemic. I also used to get excruciating cramps before I started the pill. I’m talking waking-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-because-it-felt-like-someone-was-twisting-a-knife-in-my-stomach bad. I haven’t had one that bad since starting the pill when I was 15.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 23.9 percent of women use either the pill, an IUD or an implant. The birth control pill can relieve symptoms for other conditions such as endometriosis, premenstrual syndrome, acne, and severe menstrual cramps. It may also protect against ovarian cancer. Women’s health shouldn’t be jeopardized because the government thinks they have a reason to invade our personal health decisions. The pill has helped me lead a normal life, and that shouldn’t be threatened, nor should other women find themselves in this position.

My use of the pill has nothing to do with sexual activity, but even if it did, that’s not a reason for the government or my employer to get to decide what’s best for my body.

Some women took to Twitter to voice how birth control has helped them, including its use as a contraceptive, with the trending #HandsOffMyBC.

Supports of the mandate’s rollback say it infringed on the religious beliefs of certain businesses or employers. I’m tired of the government protecting businesses over women. The rights of a business shouldn’t impede my rights as an individual who needs medical treatment.

Photo via Twitter

Originally published: October 9, 2017
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