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Lately, I’ve been very frustrated with the media pushing aside the voices that are arguing for Women’s Rights in this election, saying it’s not an important issue. Claiming that it is just a social issue meant to push buttons and distract from the facts. You can’t tell me that this is a distraction when Missouri is actively working to allow employers the ability to deny coverage of birth control for women. You CANNOT possibly believe this is an issue that is any less important when politicians are giving free reign of our bodies over to employers. This is utterly ridiculous!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
This came to a head over the weekend while I was sitting at a fair booth all weekend, stuck next the the Tea Party, while also in a very Republican town. One of our friends of the family, a very dear woman, is also a very big PRO-LIFE Republican. I have no issue with Pro-life individuals or Republicans, as long as they have a well researched basis for their beliefs (just as I feel anyone should have when considering their own belief system: Democrat or Republican, Pro-Choice or Pro-Life, Pro-Peace or Pro-War, etc). Mom let it slip to R (Friend of the family) that I was a democrat. “Well you and I have to talk, I need to bring you over to the correct side, ” says R. She also said her main reasoning was Pro-life. I replied back, that I respected R, because I know she is a caring person who takes the role of pro-life to extend outside of more than just the life of a fetus. And we left it at that, because we were in a public setting, I was getting sick and we both like each other too much to let a conversation like that get out of hand.
But here’s the thing, while I suffered through this allergy attack that brought me literally to my bed and away from my computer for 72 hours, I realized what I worry about more than anything else, is the right to birth control being taken away. And that if I had to sit down with R, I would want to tell her that I’m pro-choice for a very personal and non abortion reason (though I feel abortion should be a medically regulated and performed procedure not done in back alleys). I think it’s fairly obvious, or maybe it isn’t, that most Pro-Choice advocates are not in the business of pulling out the pom-poms to cheer on abortions. What we’re most passionate about is prevention. But birth control is actually more than the prevention of pregnancy for many women. It’s actually about the prevention of certain diseases and the calming of other ailments.
When pro-lifers start adding birth control to their list of evils that pro-choicers advocate, I get a little up in arms. And with good reason! There are several medical reasons to take birth control, that do not include the prevention of pregnancy, but do include the prevention of Ovarian Cancer. Ovarian Cancer happens to run in my family and is something that both my grandmother and mother faced at a young age (23 and 21 respectively). So as soon as my mother knew I was going to be out of the house, where my dad wouldn’t know I was on birth control (mostly because he’d think it’d mean his little girl was having sex, not because has any particular beef against it) she got me into the OB/GYN and had me put on birth control. According to an article on WebMD the risk of Ovarian and Endometrial Cancer is decreased by 40 percent after 5 years on the pill and nearly 70 percent after 12 years. She didn’t want me going through the worry that she and my grandmother faced while fighting ovarian cancer. She didn’t want me to risk only having one viable ovary (like she had) and potentially never having children-she knew it was my dream to do so.
I have no doubt that being on birth control has helped keep me cancer free, despite the strong family history we have in the family. And while I personally feel that cancer prevention is one of the best reasons for me to be on birth control, it’s not the only reason I believe in it’s medical necessity.
It’s also important to note that some women find relief from otherwise debilitating PMS and Menstrual symptoms when on the pill. It can also help relieve Endometriosis, which left untreated can cause infertility (as discussed at the Democratic Convention by Libby Bruce- who advocated the necessity of Planned Parenthood). Finally, it helps with Polycystic Ovarian syndrome- which can be painful and cause other symptoms like acne, excess hair growth, and irregular cycles.
For these reasons alone, birth control should not be controlled based on religious beliefs of when life starts forced upon a government and the government’s people, but rather by a women in conjunction with her doctor and with her spiritual adviser when applicable. Limiting access to birth control is just the tip of the iceberg and highlights just why the decision for any decision a woman makes about her reproductive system should not be at the whim of one group with a mindset that does not represent the overall beliefs of the populace.