contraceptionI was able to get a Monday morning doctors appointment, but I have to wait for over an hour in the waiting room before I get seen. I'm conscious of the ticking clock; I'm missing work, the parking meter, the deadline on the care I need. When I finally get taken back, the nurse practitioner asks me a lot of questions. I answer them in a hurry and cut to the chase. I need the Morning After Pill. A condom broke Saturday night. It's Monday. I need to take it soon for it to work. She's skeptical. She looks at the dates I've given her and says it's unlikely I'll get pregnant. Unlikely is too risky for me. I'm 25. I'm single. I make $15,000 per year and live with roommates. The encounter that resulted in the broken condom is the beginning of a relationship, but I don't know that yet. I CAN'T get pregnant. My life does not allow for that possibility. I reiterate my need for the Morning After Pill. The nurse practitioner writes me the prescription and sends me on my way. I go to the pharmacy at the Kaiser Health Center where I'm a patient and wait another hour for my script to be filled. I take the first two pills and go to work. I've lost half the day, but at least I feel confident that I won't get pregnant.
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That morning was one of the best of my life. I took control of my destiny. I did a responsible thing. Those hours of fidgety waiting for four pills meant no pregnancy at a time when a pregnancy would have been disastrous for me. I had accompanied a friend to an abortion the year before. I did not want to walk that path and, thanks to the emergency contraception, I didn't have to. I would recommend it to any woman who was unsure of the efficacy of her birth control after a sexual encounter. I would hand it out for free for women who are the victims of sexual assault. It is not perfect, it has limits, but it can also be a miracle for a woman who cannot face a pregnancy.
Emergency contraception, or the morning after pill, is a medication women can take within 72 hours of unprotected sex in order to stop conception. In the 15 years since my experience with it, the technology has improved. It's gone from 4 pills, to 2, and now 1. It won't end an existing pregnancy, but it will prevent one if taken within the 72 hour window. The safety is so proven that it's no longer a prescription medicine for women 15 or older; they have been able to get it at the pharmacy counter, thus eliminating delays in access due to waiting to get an doctor's appointment. As of yesterday, the Obama Administration stopped pursuing enforcement of ages limits on access and soon it will be completely over the counter and available to women of all ages without restriction, based on the recommendations of a panel of women's health experts.
As a mother, this delights me.
I am, in the fullest sense of the phrase, pro-choice. I accept and support everyone's choices regarding sex and pregnancy. I have my own biases and my own preferences, of course, but I do not seek to impose them on anyone else. I want to see everyone have the best access to information and health care about sex, reproduction, sexual health, birth control, pregnancy, and childbirth so they can make fully informed choices. Want to remain abstinent until marriage? Awesome. Want to be a porn star? Awesome. Want to live somewhere in the middle of that? You go. This applies to my kids as well as everyone else in the world. Yes, I want them to attain a certain emotional maturity before they start having sex but, even if they don't, I want them to be able to take care of their reproductive health and that of their partners. That's why I will be the mom who keeps a current stock of emergency contraception in my house with a no-questions-asked policy behind taking it. Either of my kids will be told where to find it and how to use it and there will be a sock on the door style signal if the stock needs to be replaced.
Too liberal for you? That's ok. That's just how I will handle it when my kids are older. I'll make condoms accessible to them, too, and hormonal methods for my daughter if she asks. You're free to handle it however you want.
With the dropping of age-restricted access to emergency contraception, my kids will now be able to access it on their own if they don't want to involve an adult in the sex lives. More than that, it means that millions of women will be able to pick up emergency contraception from the shelf and buy it without having to find an open pharmacy and show ID. The visibility will raise even more awareness of it and make it more accessible to women who need it the most, at times that are convenient to them. No more losing half a day of work, like I had to do all those years ago. Instead women can just get what they need when they need it and prevent an unwanted pregnancy. The way I see it, it's a good and responsible thing for any woman to do.
-By Rebekah Kuschmider
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