Just a little over six months ago I began the conversation with my OB/GYN about a form of permanent birth control. I have used hormonal birth control pills, multiple kinds, ever since I was about 19 years old. Since then I have experienced a variety of side effects including acne, weight gain, worsening depression, headaches, and worsening emotional states during that time of the month. After 10 years of this, I had reached the point where I wasn’t willing to go through that any longer.
I was never a fan of the IUD or the NuvaRing, really any kind of implantable birth control. For one, I just don’t like the fact that something is inside my body for years at a time. Second, I am not comfortable with the effect they have on a woman’s cycle. I have talked to many women and I have heard more bad than good. I’m not trying to discredit or talk bad about the other options, they just aren’t alternatives that are attractive to me and what I want for my body.
This was when I decided that a tubal ligation, voluntary sterilization, was what I really wanted. When the idea came to me, it seemed right and was an alternative that I knew was what I wanted 100%. Growing up I never wanted children. I like children, and I enjoy being around children, I just never wanted any of my own. Being a mother was not a role that I wanted to fill. To my dismay and utter surprise, I made it out of some crazy years without ever getting pregnant and made it to 30 without children. Also, even at 30, I still have goals I want to reach and quite a few years ahead of me before I get there, and having a baby would interfere with those goals. Although I am a staunch pro-choicer, I don’t want to have to seek an abortion unless absolutely necessary. I would like to prevent that if at all possible. This was when I knew it was time to make a decision.
I have been with the same OB/GYN for four years, so we have built a rapport with each other. Which I believe was extremely helpful when I said to him “Can we talk about me having a tubal done?”. He of course asked me if I had considered other forms of birth control, and I responded with my feelings on those options. This is when he said for me to sit on it for about 6 months, and to come back for an appointment, after which if I was still sure I wanted the procedure, then we would schedule to have it done. I was both frustrated and excited about this. I was frustrated because, as a woman, we have to constantly ask and wait for permission for so many decisions in our lives, especially when it comes to reproductive health. It is easier for me to purchase a gun than it is to acquire procedures such as this or even an abortion. It’s almost as if I have to undergo some deep soul searching before I’m allowed to take action over my own body. With that said, I do understand the position doctors are in when it comes to a procedure such as a tubal ligation with its permanency, and they just want to make sure that the woman is 100% sure she wants to have the procedure done. So I was patient.
And I must add, the support I have received from my significant other (who has two children of his own from a previous relationship and they have allowed me to be a part of their lives, and I love them both dearly. I am extremely grateful for the relationship I have with them), my family, and my support group have been outstanding and somewhat surprising. There are still people that say the usual (“Oh you don’t want kids? Why not?” or “You’ll change your mind once you have one” or even “Now come on, you really don’t know what true love is until you have children”), but for the most part everyone was extremely supportive and helpful. I was pleasantly surprised.
So about six months later, I met with his partner, whom was just as open minded and accepting of my decision and we set an appointment for the procedure. On January 6th I received a tubal ligation, voluntary sterilization, and because of the Affordable Care Act (even though I have insurance) the procedure will be covered 100%. (Thank you, Obama.)
Then, not even a week later, Republicans voted on amendments in the dead of night to begin the repeal process of the ACA. This included pre-existing conditions (being a woman is ultimately a pre-existing condition due to pregnancy), birth control no longer covered by insurance, and a plan to defund Planned Parenthood (which Republicans have been attempting to do this for many years). This made me realize that the universe really does work in weird ways, and I was suddenly extremely grateful that I made the decision when I did and was able to get the procedure done so soon. Although I have insurance, it is becoming more and more expensive with less and less benefits. Therefore, if I had decided to remain on birth control I would soon be paying out of pocket for it. Which can be expensive depending on the brand or type of birth control. If I had decided to get an IUD, that wouldn’t have been covered either and I would have to pay a couple thousand dollars. The option of a health care clinic is no longer an option for me because of my income. I make just a little too much to receive the free family planning my local health center offers. So in other words, I would be shit out of luck.
I live in West Virginia, and as far as I know there is only ONE Planned Parenthood facility here. That is in Vienna according to the website, which is hours from where I and many other across the state live. If the Republicans succeed in defunding Planned Parenthood, that one facility may not exist in the near future. The health clinics we have here in West Virginia do offer family planning services. But the process is similar to being eligible for welfare, it goes by income. If you don’t make enough you are eligible for certain things such as pap smears, STD testing, cancer screenings, etc. But if you make just a little too much money, you must either pay out of pocket or use your insurance IF YOU HAVE ANY. In addition to that, federal funds are not allowed to be used for abortions unless in cases of rape, incest, or the mother’s life is at risk. So if a woman chooses to have an abortion, that also must be paid out of pocket if they do not have insurance or their insurance does not cover the services.
The Republicans voting to repeal so much access women have to their own reproductive health is dangerous and a fight that we thought we were done fighting. They want to outlaw abortion, yet they don’t want to offer women the access to resources to prevent unwanted pregnancy. They want to make cuts within the ACA, and other insurance companies are making cuts in benefits and raising premiums, so it’s becoming more difficult for women, especially low income women, to access not only reproductive care but just basic health care in general. It’s becoming more and more frustrating, and I only see it getting much worse with the incoming administration.
With that said, I am marching on Washington next Saturday because….
I am tired of having to fight for complete autonomy over my own body.
I am tired of having to ask permission from men, law makers, and the religious right to do what I feel is right for myself and my body.
I am tired of seeing low income women and women of color receiving
disproportionate access to basic health care and then being blamed for the situations they must live in.
I am tired of constantly having to explain my decisions after every corner I turn.
I am tired of the expectation that women are only good for reproduction and if we don’t have children, we are selfish and failing as a woman.
I am tired of being viewed as an object, as something that can be possessed, or as something that can be touched without permission.
Most of all, I AM TIRED OF HAVING TO FIGHT FOR THE SAME SHIT MY PREDECESSORS FOUGHT FOR GENERATIONS AGO.
So ladies, and men, let’s stand together in solidarity and let our voice be heard and our presence seen and felt. See you Saturday!