The XX Factor

I Cannot Believe We’re Still Explaining the Benefits of Birth Control in 2016

A woman holds prescription contraceptives on June 13, 2001 in Seattle, Washington. We are still debating their acceptability 15 years later.

Tim Matsui/Getty Images

When Donald Trump became President-elect a week ago, America seemed doomed to experience an uptick in unwanted pregnancies and unsafe abortions. The vice president-elect, Mike Pence, is famous for putting a hit out on Roe v. Wade, and Trump himself is a-OK with leaving the legality of abortion to the states, hanging women, particularly poor women, out to dry. Meanwhile, women across the country are asking their doctors about long-acting birth control methods in the event that their contraceptive access is reduced or eliminated altogether when the new administration carries out its promise to repeal Obamacare.

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In the face of these legitimate fears, the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy started a hashtag, #ThxBirthControl, to get women to share why controlling their reproductive health is important to them.

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The tweets were, unsurprisingly, deeply personal and resonant—stories of surviving rape, avoiding a spiral into unsustainable poverty, regulating periods, managing debilitating medical problems. They were also really disheartening to witness, because it’s absolutely ridiculous that we’re still having this conversation in 2016. This isn’t abortion we’re talking about, where people might have somewhat understandable, if flawed, arguments against it. This is a safe, time-tested medical technology that lets people decide when to have children. It is an essential part of women’s healthcare.

So the opposition seems to come down to one, or all of these odious opinions: That women have an obligation to give birth whether they want to or not; that women who have sex before they’re ready to have children are immoral sluts; that taxpayers shouldn’t have to foot the bill for women to avoid pregnancy. The last one is a canard that ignores the fact that we all pay in the long run when unwanted children are brought into this world.

Women’s right to prevent unwanted pregnancies should not be up for debate. Nor should their right to take hormonal birth control to treat the symptoms of other conditions. And anyone who isn’t already onboard with the idea of birth control likely isn’t going to be convinced by a hashtag begging them to take their heads out of the sand.

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