Heads up, this post will not be full of laughable memes or silly humor. Hopefully it won’t be boring either, so please press on.
January 20, 2017 marked a day in history. Inauguration day is historical and notable for the United States of America for our government to commemorate the peaceful exchange of power. So on this day Donald Trump officially became the 45th President of the United States of America. This day was celebrated by millions and for many others also induced a great deal of fear, panic, and alarm. I am not writing to bash President Trump. So if you think that is where I am headed, you will be disappointed, or perhaps pleased, depending on where you stand politically.
Now fast forward to January 21, 2017 and this day will also be noted in the history books. It will be noted because millions of men, women and children participated in a world wide March. It began with the Women’s March on Washington which quickly expanded to include hundreds of other sister marches in other cities around the globe. Not just country. On every. single. continent.
I’ve seen a number of posts on social media of men and women confused about why so many people participated in such an event. So I thought I could maybe share a little input to hopefully bring some clarity to those who don’t understand. First of all, this was not solely a protest against President Trump. Were there people in attendance who were there to protest President Trump? Yes, however, this march was bigger than that. This was to bring a collective voice around issues regarding reproductive rights, LGBTQ rights, ending violence, worker’s rights, civil rights, disability rights, immigrant rights, and environmental rights. Now you may be thinking that’s a very wide spectrum and you’re absolutely right, but each topic deserved to be highlighted and I’ll break it down over a series of posts, and you can read more at the Women’s March website. I know our attention spans are limited and I don’t want you to lose interest to go look at a cat video instead, no matter how worthy and cute that cat is of your attention.
Let’s start with reproductive rights. No this is not only about abortion. Reproductive rights also include access to contraception, health screenings, STD care and prevention, and sexual education. So there is the argument that we have access to all of this and while we can debate how one defines “access”, for arguments sake, let’s agree. However, current legislation threatens the continued equal access to contraception of the woman’s choice. Let’s get personal. I have made the choice for myself and my body to not have children. To ensure this does not happen I have elected to have an IUD as my method of birth control. I chose this for multiple reasons, but the biggest reasons were it’s long-term effects (5 years) and the high percentage of effectiveness. Now this is an expensive method of birth control, but under current legislation my health insurance is required to cover it at no out of pocket cost to me. This opportunity is threatened for me now because should certain legislation be passed, my health insurance, or your health insurance could elect to not cover contraception and then the burden is placed on us to pay for the expense. I can afford to do so, and I will if it comes to it, but there are many women who cannot shoulder this burden to ensure they do not get pregnant until they are ready.
You may be prepared to argue that women can get birth control pills or condoms for free even if legislation changes and these other contraceptive options are no longer covered. But these methods are not as effective as an IUD, and they may not be a feasible option for every woman, there are allergies, health side effects and discomfort that could be taken into consideration. Many unplanned pregnancies occur when these are the only methods available. I am not saying every woman who does not wish to get pregnant should have an IUD, however, I think every woman should have the CHOICE to select the method that is best for her and her body regardless of cost.
Why is this important? Many reasons. I do not expect to get everything for free; however, let’s look at this from an economical standpoint. More unplanned pregnancies= more unplanned children. And we do not live in a perfect society, so many of these children then experience growing up in poverty, receive a poor education and do not even have their basic needs met of food, shelter and feeling safe. Many experience a life of violence, criminal behavior, and repeat the cycle for themselves. Does this happen all the time? No. But if it could be avoided simply by offering women the choice of contraception, why not advocate for it? Many Americans complain about the number of families living off of government assistance, well let’s offer a way for women to prevent starting families prior to them being ready and that may alleviate some of the burden.
Still not convinced? By preventing unwanted pregnancies we are also preventing unwanted abortions. This should be a huge incentive for pro-life advocates. This can only be done through equal and unobstructed access to a variety of contraception options.
Now let’s briefly address the big bad wolf of Planned Parenthood. This is a hot topic for many. Many believe Planned Parenthood should not receive any federal funding because they offer the service of abortions. Planned Parenthood does much more than abortions, they also offer numerous health screenings, STD testing, prevention, and care, counseling and contraception. There are not many options out there for abortion, so Planned Parenthood does the bulk of this service for women. Think of it as if Planned Parenthood is a cable provider. And they are the only ones in your area who provide internet service. So you buy your internet, cable and phone from them. Your neighbor doesn’t need internet, so they just get their cable from them. They don’t insist the company should be shut down because they don’t need internet. Comparing internet providers to abortion may seem like a stretch, but my point is that Planned Parenthood gets a bad rap because they offer abortions, but reproductive rights is more than just being pro-choice or pro-life. I’m not here to change your mind about Planned Parenthood, that is a mountain I do not even want to attempt to climb.
Try to be a bit more open-minded. I focused heavily on contraception in this post because that is the area that is mostly under attack and what seems to be difficult for many to understand. But just like parents would like to have their choice to get pregnant and raise their child covered by their health insurance, those who are not ready or will ever choose to have child, would like their health options to be covered as well. I would like to make everyone a little more aware of why reproductive rights are important and that they are indeed at risk. Think of this march as if it were the military. We do not wait for an attack to build up or organize an army. We are proactive because a great offense is the best defense.
Over 500,000 people were in attendance in Washington, D.C, 750,000 in L.A., 250,000 in NYC, 250,000 in Chicago, 150,000 in Denver, 130,000 in Seattle, 150,000 in Boston, 2,000 in Pensacola, 3,000 in Charleston, 40,000 in Austin, 10,000 in St. Louis, 100,000 in Portland, 7,000 in Palm Beach, 100,000 in London, 60,000 in Toronto, 10,000 in Sydney. Over 670 marches took place world wide. This wasn’t about women whining or making much ado about nothing. If you don’t understand why women are marching, maybe you haven’t been listening.