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Protecting our Birth Control

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Right now I use birth control. My girlfriends, some who are Catholics, some who are mothers, others who are not, also use birth control. In fact, most of the women I know are actively using some method of contraception.

So someone then please tell me: why are members of the Tea Party trying to force Obama to deny birth control to women?

You may remember that, at the end of the summer, the Department of Health and Human Services decided that birth control was an important part of making sure women are healthy. So important, in fact, that women with health insurance shouldn't have to pay any out-of-pocket expenses in order to access it. For those of us who have health insurance, this was an amazing leap forward for our health - no longer would women have to struggle to see if they could afford their packet of pills that month. The decision whether or not to become a mother would not be made based on whether a woman could afford both her groceries and that month's birth control. For those without insurance, this is an important first step towards making sure you too have access to birth control.

This affected me. This affected the 89% of Latina women who currently, have, or will at some point use birth control.

But overall the rule was a victory, and that was reflected in just how many people approved of this ruling.

Things were looking good, at least until this week. Radical members of the Tea Party have decided to try and limit this rule, adding on more and more ways organizations can wriggle out of providing birth control to women. The law already includes an exemption for religious institutions, but they're trying to expand it further: to hospitals, schools, universities, any employer or organization even loosely affiliated with a place of worship.

If the Tea Partiers get their way, this would affect millions of women.

Millions of women -- nurses, janitors, teachers, and other workers -- would no longer be able to afford contraception.

Doctors agree this is the wrong thing to do. Nurses agree this is the wrong thing to do. Health care providers across the board think this will hurt millions of women. And the women themselves? Well we're not too happy about it either.

No extreme politician knows better than I or my girlfriends do whether or not we're ready to become a mother. These extreme politicians aren't taking care of me. They're getting in my way, and preventing me from taking care of myself and my family.

Luckily we still have time. This measure will be decided this week. We have to tell Obama we need him to be strong, and stand up to these bullies. We have to tell him that we stand with him as he stands up for women's health.

Your voice matters! Give the President a call, or send him an email. Let him know that your health matters to you, and it should matter to him too. We need to make our voices heard. For all of us: those who have kids, who want to have kids, who don't want to have kids, and who want to have kids but not right now. Let's all stand together. Because together, our voices are too powerful to ignore.

A version of this op ed appeared in Spanish in El Diario.