JUSTICE FOR ALL
We used large fallen tree branches as chairs that kept us from sitting on the pesky ants that blanketed the ground cover underneath a beautiful tree with the cool river running nearby. My aunt Kate, good friend Anne and I sat asking Kimiri questions about her life working for a Fair Trade company in a remote area quite a distance from Nairobi. My intentions that day were to learn Kimiri’s opinions about how life has changed since work opportunity arrived and within our conversation it was casually mentioned that she finds easy access to free contraception. I was intrigued. What type of birth control? How is it free? She informed me that multiple types of birth control are provided by the Kenyan government that comes in form of pills and injections. Injections that can provide contraception for a month, three months, three years leading all the way up to twelve years. The Kenyan government realizes that by providing ways to properly plan families, people are better able to either space out their families or not have children at all if parents are financially unable to provide.
“And this is completely free any time it’s needed?” I asked. “Absolutely, because our government knows that in order for families to better support themselves access to family planning is vital and they could help by making it free.” She answered.
Well of course it does.
Why can’t the United States government see this as well?
Throughout my connecting flights and long air time traveling back home from Kenya, out of everything I learned this was the one point that stuck with me the most.
I couldn’t get out of my head the experience I had with obtaining my birth control the year prior. An American tax paying citizen with health care coverage the only type of birth control I was offered came in the form of a pill. What irritates me the most about taking pills as my form of birth control is that every three months that I needed to refill my prescription I would be handed a different type of pill every time. My body was having to re-adjust to different levels of hormones every three months. When I told my pharmacist that I want the same prescription as I had last time they told me, “Oh we don’t have that brand anymore.” It should be common sense but I’ll say it anyway, hormones fuck with you. It takes about a month at least for our bodies to introduce different levels of hormones which causes extreme mood changes like depression and anxiety, weight fluctuation, headaches and painful cystic acne – just to name a few side effects. So you find one form of birth control that you like and once the body becomes adjusted it should be fine. But giving someone a completely new type of birth control every three months is outrageous. So I went to my gynecologist and told her that I want an IUD that will sustain for five years. She had one ordered that day but told me to verify if my health insurance would cover the cost. If not, the cost for this would be close to $1200. “Eek, that’s steep.” But having health insurance I was confident that something as important as preventing pregnancy for someone unfit to having a child this should fall into the category of preventative health care coverage. It wasn’t covered.
Heartbroken I called my doctor back and nearly had tears as I told her the bad news. She too was saddened by this and said, “you know what you can do?” Desperate for a plan B I asked, “What?” “Go to Planned Parenthood.”
The next day I walked into a Planned Parenthood and explained my situation. Since I did have health insurance she told me that my cost would be close to $600 and it was then that I spiraled into an epic monologue in the lobby of this doctors office that I kind of wish I had a recording of now. By the end of my somewhat blacked out soap box moment I heard an, “Amen!” from a women sitting in the back corner of the lobby and a smile grew ear to ear on the receptionists face. I left that day with my IUD already implanted for $200 and having donated to Planned Parenthood that saved me from insanity. She told me not to make a donation since I had already paid $200 but there was no way I would leave that office without paying gratitude for Planned Parenthood. A place that changes people’s lives for the better and provides health care coverage to people who need it the most.
I can’t explain the amount of sadness and anger I feel when I hear stories about young rape victims being denied access to abortion.
Stories told from people like Marva Sadler the clinical director of Whole Woman’s Health in San Antonio, Texas sharing just one of her stories about how by law the clinic was unable to perform an abortion on a 13 year old rape victim. Because of extreme abortion laws a 13 year old rape victim was denied abortion. Not because it was unsafe but because it was illegal. She is sentenced to motherhood. I was always taught that in the United States we had ‘Justice for All.’ This isn’t justice at all.
What’s the problem America!? Why are you so hesitant to protecting women’s rights when it comes to family planning and contraception?
Is it about keeping health insurance rates lower? Because I’m certain it costs way more money covering someones pregnancy, birth and child care than it does one lousy IUD. Is it about morals?
I haven’t heard of anything more ethically immoral than denying a 13 year old rape victim an abortion.
People say, “Oh I don’t want my taxes to go towards Planned Parenthood because I don’t agree with it.” Yeah? Well, I don’t agree that the United States should butt it’s head into every fucking war it can find and use my tax dollars to pay for it either. But our country was built on the promise that we are united with liberty for all. We need more women in office. We need our voice heard.
So I’m going to be really honest about this one – I’m not entirely sure how we can make this better for women wanting birth control. One step would be to support women leaders like Cecile Richards who has served as the president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America and president of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund since 2006 – I highly recommend reading her book called Make Trouble. Her book brings more insight towards the injustice women are seeing within their reproductive rights. And when it comes time to vote – You have to vote!! This is probably one of the most important things we can do if we want to see change. Don’t give up just because your candidate didn’t make it to the finals. We have to bring more women in office. We have to have our voices heard.
I’m proud of the Kenyan government for acknowledging the importance of family planning. I wish that I could live under a government that acknowledges these rights and the importance as does Kenya. But as much as I want run away to safety, I know that what I really need to do is to find fallen tree branches here on American soil that I hope someday will finally protect me and others from the pesky ground covering that lies beneath.