There was a time when the "birth control debate" didn't exist in my home. I remember it clearly - That's not for "girls like you." Girls like me, huh? Birth control, por que? I never really knew what that meant. Girls like me. "Girls like me?" I would ask this over and over again to my Grandmother. What does that mean? "Mija, it's simple...girls who are Mexican and Catholic...it's not for you." "Oh" I would say. "Okay" (insert confused whatever-abuela-says-goes shrug) and off I would go.
Fast forward a few years later. Wow, you mean there's a "magic pill" that can regulate a monthly "situation" (as the men in my family liked to call it), ease the pain and agony of it all and clear your skin? Oh yeah, I need birth control! Dad? (Insert shriek and the sound of botas clapping on the floor at 50 miles an hour in the opposite direction). Okay, never mind. Clearly it's not for girls like me.
Fast forward a few more years. I learn that my college girlfriends have all made it a priority to not only lockdown and secure a gynecologist (where I went to college there weren't many) but to befriend them to the point that margarita Thursday became...ahem...interesting. They learned that taking control of their body meant they held all the keys they needed to prevent life-threatening illnesses, even cancer.
I finally muster up the courage to tell myself "it's time to take ownership of your body!" Yes! Let's do this! You're in college now and your family can no longer say that it's not for girls like you!
So, at the time I am going to school at a Catholic university and working at a Catholic school. I make an appointment with some random doctor (my girlfriends had swooped up all the good OBGYN's and the waiting list was too long) and I say "Doctor, I would like to go on the Pill" (or something to that affect). Great, he says (yes, a he...you better believe this Catholic girl was re-luc-tant. That's for another blog). I leave his office and head to the receptionist to finish paperwork and collect my prescription. And to my surprise I am handed a bill for $1,500 (it's been a while, so I could be a few bucks +/-). "Chihuahua?!" Receptionist looks at me with a tilted head - "No, I don't mean the dog! I mean what? Huh? Why?" I mean, I had insurance!
I was told that my insurance didn't cover well-women exams. Dang, I thought. Ok, there has to be a mistake. I call the 1-800 number on the back of my card - pressed #1 and then #2 and then hold for English or Spanish etc...etc...and I finally get through. The receptionist was sort of right. I wasn't going to be covered, not because I didn't have the proper coverage, but because my employer refused to cover those benefits exclusively. Okay, I say thank you and never mind. Clearly it's not for girls like me.
Fast forward well over a decade (yikes) times have changed, right? The state I was living in now requires insurance companies to cover birth control and many other states have adopted similar measures. And, now I am older, employed, tax-paying, law-abiding, and fiercely independent and I maintain full control of my health. No one is going to tell me what I can and can't do when it comes to my lady-issues (again, men in my house). Me equivoqué.
In Arizona lawmakers are trying to do just that. HB2625 (insurers; healthcare coverage; religious beliefs) if passed would allow employers with religious and/or moral objections to birth control to deny coverage through their insurance plans. Arizona's current law requires health providers to cover birth control, but allows religious organizations to opt out. This bill would allow ANY employer with religious/moral objections to opt out.
Maybe I was wrong. Maybe it's not just for girls like me. Maybe it's not for any girl.
Fast forward well over a decade and a few years later... (to be continued).
Follow Christina M. Martínez on Twitter: www.twitter.com/@AdelantePAC