When I first made the decision to start taking birth control, I didn’t have insurance. I was working at my first post-college job as a part-time editor and supplementing my income as a salesclerk on the weekends at Franklin Mills Mall. Between both jobs, I earned about $1,200 each month. The pills my doctor prescribed cost me about $85 a month, which I paid out of pocket for more than a year before I finally got healthcare through work.
Under my insurance coverage, the pill cost me about $15. The first time I picked it up from the pharmacy, I teared up when I realized I didn’t have put my contraception on my credit card.
For a long time, that’s the way it worked for me: I paid 15 bucks a month to stay fetus-free and I was happy about it.
But a year ago, birth control started to give me some problems. It darkened patches of my skin on my face, neck and torso. Instead of a manageable PMS headache, I would find myself bed-bound for days with migraines. I had gastrointestinal issues and I started gaining weight that I couldn’t lose no matter what I ate or how many miles I ran on the treadmill. Sometimes, my emotions were so out of whack that I would find myself crying over a missed bus. It also killed my sex drive, making it doubly effective: Not only was I unable to get pregnant because of the hormones pumping through my bloodstream, I was also repulsed by the thought of getting laid.
After consulting my doctor, I quit the pill and didn’t look back.
Then, a few weeks ago, my doctor recommended a different brand of birth control that she thought could work for me. When the time came to pick up my prescription, I remember steeling myself for the price. When I was told that under Obamacare, my pills were free, I whooped out loud and made the pharmacist high five me in the middle of CVS.
I remember thinking how far the world had come in just a few years.
I’m not writing this because I have a burning desire to share how I manage my reproductive system. Or because I want to rail against the potential side effects of birth control pills. Or even to tout the real-life impact of Obamacare on the life of a young woman.
I’m writing this because I think it’s important for people to understand that making the decision to take a birth control pill or get an IUD or get fitted for a diaphragm isn’t a choice that any woman makes lightly. There are side effects and responsibilities, both fiscal and personal. For many women, finding a birth control is not just about picking the option that’s most appealing or most affordable. It’s about finding the method that allows you to be functional in your day-to-day existence.
This week, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Hobby Lobby, thus making it acceptable for for-profit employers with religious objections to opt out of providing contraception coverage under Obamacare. (It’s worth noting that according to Time magazine, Hobby Lobby currently objects to paying for morning-after pills and intrauterine devices — not necessarily birth control pills. Though, there’s no way to tell how their policies will evolve now that this ruling has been made.)
There are plenty of reasons why this ruling sets an appalling precedent in the way our government allows women to be treated — but that’s not what I’ve been thinking about since the announcement was made on Tuesday. The thing I can’t get out of my head is the women who work for Hobby Lobby right now.
In the average workplace, women have a lot of battles to fight. We’re leaning in and banning bossy in effort overcome the subtle (and sometimes not-so-subtle) sexism that exists in so many offices and corporations. While websites all across the Internet are talking about the impact this SCOTUS decision has on women across the country, I can’t stop thinking about those women employed by Hobby Lobby, the women who might have to pay $85 a month for birth control that could give them migraines or make them weep on the bus.
Maybe those women would benefit from IUDs that they now can’t afford. Or maybe Hobby Lobby will take this ruling and change their coverage plans to be more limiting. There’s no way to know how detrimental this ruling will be to these women and women across the country.
And suddenly, it doesn’t seem like the world has come very far at all.
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