Today, the circus that is the United States Congress will continue its campaign against birth control with not one but two hearings scheduled on this apparently controversial topic for the week. While we're eager to hear more about how birth control coverage is a Stalinist plot to ruin America or how getting birth control is like ordering a ham sandwich or -- and we really do want an explanation on this -- how it will create more homeless veterans, we are very confident about what we won't hear.
We are confident that Republican chairmen of the committees will not feature testimony from the millions of Americans who rely on birth control to survive -- financially and medically.
If fact, one Republican congresswoman, Rep. Ann Marie Buerkle (R-NY), even had the gall to tell reporters yesterday, "This is not a women's health issue that we're talking about, and it's so important not to be deceived and not to be distracted."
She should tell that to the tens of thousands of @UltraViolet members who DO rely on it to prevent seizures, migraines and control painful cramps and heavy bleeding.
Since we won't hear these important stories at the hearings today, we'll go ahead and put their stories out here. Hopefully someone in Congress will read them -- paging Rep. Buerkle -- and understand what a vital issue this is for so many Americans -- women AND men.
WARNING: These stories are harrowing and/or deeply logical and feature female anatomical references.
I was in a very abusive relationship when I was younger. I was beaten and forcibly raped on a regular basis. He allowed his friends to abuse and rape me. He tried to impregnate me even though I did not want a baby to ensure that I would not try to leave. I was a thing, not a person. I had to hide birth control. I am lucky to be alive today. Many years later I am married to a wonderful man, and we hope to start a family- it is my choice again. If I had not had access to birth control then, I wouldn't have the life I have today. Staying child-free allowed me to escape that situation, and gave me the chance of a better future and the chance to have a real family. --America, WY
I have three children, my husband is a disabled Veteran of Operation Enduring Freedom (Afghanistan), and I care for my elderly mother who has autism. Another pregnancy would risk the health, quality of life, and financial security for me and my entire family. We rely on birth control to ensure that we can adequately care for the precious children we already have.--Laurie, CA
My sister's ovaries stopped producing eggs on their own when she was 25 years old. This went on for 3 years before a doctor decided to prescribe her birth control pills to see if this would "jump start" the ovaries again. And it worked!! If it hadn't been for birth control, my sister may have lost the ability to have children. And the only reason she could afford the pill was because her insurance company covered it. If they had not, she would not have been able to regain normal function in her ovaries.--Meggie, NY
My wife has a chronic illness that means we must plan her pregnancies based on tests done by her doctor, not following that plan would put my wife's life in danger and could cause stillbirth. --Benjamin, CA
After having my first child prematurely by emergency c-section, I developed endometriosis due to complications during delivery. Endometriosis is a usually painful condition where cells that make up the uterine lining are living outside the womb and respond to reproductive hormones, causing the tissue to swell and sometimes bleed. I had pain in my lower right side abdomen for over a year before my doctor diagnosed it. The remedy? A prescription hormonal contraceptive pill. This relieved most of my symptoms and helped to make sure I did not need further surgery. Some women are rendered infertile relating to endometriosis, so the prescription may have helped maintain my fertility. Without that prescription, today I may not be holding our newest addition, a girl who was born this past Christmas Day. The doctor performing my second c-section was able to remove some of the endometriosis after delivering the baby, so my symptoms may be gone, we'll see. --Jenn, IL
I began using birth control at sixteen, under guidance of my OB/GYN to regulate my monthly cycle. At that time I was a competitive runner. It is not uncommon for young female athletes to experience irregular cycles, and birth control is a very common remedy. I remained on birth control throughout college, long after I was no longer eligible to be covered on my parent's health insurance, through the campus health center. Birth control was very affordable under the campus plan, and if it had not been for the access at my university, I would not have been able to afford the rising out of pocket cost. Now, at twenty-nine, birth control has become a necessity. After discovering cysts and tumors developing on my ovaries, and undergoing surgery, I use birth control to maintain my health. Ovarian cysts and tumors are extremely painful. They can lead to the removal of ovaries, limiting the possibility of reproduction, and in dire cases, the development of cancer. --Laura, GA
I have had to go on birth control for medical reasons many times throughout my life even when I didn't want the hormones. Throughout my young adult life i suffer from ovarian cysts that have even burst a few times (excruciating pain) and every time they tell me i have to go back on birth control to stop the growth of cysts. Then when i was off birth control again after trying to start a family, at age 39 i began bleeding uncontrollably every 2 weeks (early peri menopause or something) and my doctor told me I had to go back on birth control to regulate my hormones an stop the bleeding so I could go back out in public and to my job. Back in my mom's days that happened to her and they gave her a hysterectomy. Today they realize birth control can help and avoid major surgery. --Jessica, CA
It is important to me personally because I am a healthy married woman with insulin-dependent diabetes. I have one son, who was planned for, conceived and carried to term, however the pregnancy required a great deal of work, excellent health care, and a significant amount of dedication. It is not easy to carry a pregnancy while also juggling a chronic disease, work, and life. I am still of reproductive age, want to enjoy a healthy relationship with my husband, and would absolutely need to plan another pregnancy if I choose to have one. I want control over my own fertility decisions because it directly correlates to my health, and my ability to take care of the family that I already have. My family is financially dependent on me at the moment, and an unplanned pregnancy would threaten my ability to do my job as effectively, putting our basic needs at risk. A pregnancy for a woman with Type 1 Diabetes is a full-time job in itself, and has its share of health risks. I should be able to choose that at the right time for me and for my family. Birth control allows me this freedom.--Betsy, NY
My best friend suffers from chronic migraines and crippling menstruation cramps. This combination prevented her from attending school for weeks on end in high school, producing grades that barely allowed her to graduate - and when she did, her bad grades destroyed any chance she had of getting a scholarship that would allow her poverty-stricken family to send her to a university. Immediately following graduation, she started birth control to regulate the hormones in her body, a technique which has been statistically shown to improve both female cramps and chronic migraines. Simultaneously, she began attending a community college. Her grades immediately improved, and she hasn't missed school due to migraines or her periods since. Now, she attends the same out-of-state private university I do, with enough of a scholarship to help her family pay. If her father's insurance hadn't covered birth control, she'd probably be stuck working some fast food joint now, if she had a job at all with all of her sick days, unable to become anything like what her intelligence and creativity deem she should become and unable to help her parents take care of her Downs-syndrome brother. In addition, she's staunchly Christian, and has never had sex, and has no intention of doing so until she is married. Birth control for her is a medication, just like any other, to help her manage two painfully crippling conditions. Denying access to others who might not be lucky enough to have insurance that covers it is unethical.--Kayli, WA
I am 54 so I don't take birth control to keep from getting pregnant. I get hormonal migraines so my taking birth control is very important to me to keep me from getting migraines every day during my menstrual cycle. My daughter, who is 19, also suffers from the same problem, also takes birth control for the same reason. If we didn't have access to birth control, we would have to take another prescription drug to control our migraines, which is much more expensive and ultimately harder on our budget. When we use birth control, it keeps our migraines from overwhelming us and we only have to supplement with migraine prescription drugs occasionally.--Cheryl, FL
I was diagnosed with uterine fibroids after the birth of my daughter. The birth control bills prescribed prevented the side effects that accompany fibroids, which include heavy menstrual bleeding and severe cramps. The only other option was to have a hysterectomy. At the time I was only 23 years old and wanted more children. The birth control relieved these symptoms for over 14 years. I have since had another child. --Tosha, TX
At fifteen I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. I was fourteen when I stopped having my period, which had always been regular. Doctors were not even thinking cancer they thought I had cysts and so they prescribed me birth control. When I had my surgery to remove the cancerous mass it was completely contained. My doctor told me that taking birth control had helped to slow the process of the mass development. --Louise, NC
As an OB/gyn with over 30 years experience caring for women (no, I do not need contraception now), I have witnessed how important it is for women to have access to reliable affordable contraception. For me and my female colleagues, it was very important to be able to space our own children so that we could take care of others.--Cornelia, MA
When I was 30, I donated a kidney to my brother. I had to use effective birth control pills for a full year before it was safe for me to become pregnant. I went off the pill, had one period, and then became pregnant with my now lovely 16 year old daughter. I needed that time to let my body heal properly. (My brother passed away in 2007, but the kidney served him well for 13 years.)--Roberta, AZ
I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis in 2005, and my doctor said that the stress of a pregnancy could very well cause the disease to surge and progress; as a mature woman, I choose not to bring a child into this world with the knowledge that her mother might not be able to care for her.--Margaret, OR
I am on birth control because I suffered a pelvic injury that is exacerbated by PMS/Menstrual symptoms--this pain can be so sever as to render me unable to stand for longer than 10 minutes. Being on birth control minimizes and eliminates the pain normally experienced during menstrual cycles. --Jenny, HI
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