Lots of people are on birth control. A lot.
In fact, across the United States, 62 percent of young reproductive age adults are using birth control right now. That’s over 103 million females throughout our country. While that is only slightly more than half of the female population, a whopping 98 percent of females that are sexually active have used birth control at some point in their lives. The repercussions of cutting away access to birth control, which is currently under seige in Washington, are beyond widespread, and sadly this could be a reality in the not too near future.
The Trump administration’s latest attacks on women’s reproductive rights are, simply, outrageous. We’ll explore every avenue to protect women’s access to all available reproductive health services. #NoGagRule #TitleX pic.twitter.com/SWV5pmOnR3
— New York Attorney General (@NewYorkStateAG) June 1, 2018
As of Friday June 1st, a newly proposed piece of legislation has made it much easier for health providers to resist the previous birth control mandate, which provided free access to the pill to anyone with health insurance. The new mandate, which would pull Obama’s Title X family planning options from many women across the country, is set to take action immediately, should employers chose to cut it from their plans. In short, the revoking of this act now gives employers the ability to deny health insurance coverage over pregnancy contraceptives that the Affordable Care Act had previously made mandatory.
Over the past nine years that Title X has been in affect, the lack of co-pays on preventional substances have not only helped them become largest female-obtained product covered by healthcare, but it has also prevented hundreds of unwanted pregnancies and lessened the number of abortions within the United States by half. Substances such as these have become a daily part of females lives, but possibly not for much longer.
"Rather than putting up with this attack on womankind, Planned Parenthood has created a tool to assist citizens in tracking Trump to keep females up to speed with the new ruling’s effect on their bodies." Photo Courtesy of TrackingTrump.org
“The affordable birth control that Title X provides helps prevent one million unintended pregnancies each year.” according to a statement from Planned Parenthood. “Overall, publicly funded birth control services — including Title X — help women avoid 1.9 million unintended pregnancies, including 440,000 teen pregnancies, every year.”
And, Mr. Trump, what do you plan on doing to support those half a million women children that will need resources and access to health care throughout and after their pregnancies? Any legislation planned to address this Handmaid's Tale-like reality you will be supporting?
Without the birth control mandate I don’t know how much the treatment would cost,” Diedra from Washington told BBC. “This is definitely an attack on women - if this issue affected men it wouldn’t be happening this way.”
According to the Trump Administration, this new ruling, which was originally presented in December, uses ‘religious beliefs’ and ‘moral convictions’ as the reasons for pulling universal access. In no uncertain terms, the United States government also hints at the availability of birth control substances leading to ‘risky sexual behavior’. Jury’s out on whether there’s any proof of that, or whether it’s just more lip service meant to push a pre-decided agenda.
“Imposing a coverage mandate on objecting entities whose plans cover many enrolled families who may share objections to contraception could, among some populations, affect risky sexual behavior in a negative way,” claims the hotly contentious piece of legislation.
While this new ruling came as a shock to the majority of U.S. citizens, Planned Parenthood has been taking this heat for a while. However, this nonprofit organization that supplies contraception, family planning, and assistance on reproductive complications, which treats approximately 4 million U.S. citizens a year, is not willing to go down without a fight. Rather than putting up with this attack on womankind, Planned Parenthood has created a tool to assist citizens in Tracking Trump to keep females up to speed with the new ruling’s effect on their bodies. The website also tracks and calls out the promises Trump had made when elected, revealing which he has gone back on, and which were simply abandoned.
And yet, the Trump-Pence administration is issuing a gag rule to block patients from getting care at Planned Parenthood. It is clear the administration doesn't care. #NoGagRule #IStandWithPP pic.twitter.com/ACdwpbOiGP
— Planned Parenthood Action (@PPact) June 4, 2018
Planned Parenthood isn’t alone in this fight. Females across the country are not putting up with this new ruling. Instead, they are standing up for their bodies and taking control of what they are rightfully entitled to. Protest-inspired hashtags such as #ThxBirthControl, #ProtectTitleX, #NoGagRule, and #HandsOffMyBody are helping to galvanize females across the country into action. Hopefully, we can begin to take this threat seriously, and take our anxiety into powerful counter-action.
In 2016, I finally found my voice. I always thought I had one, especially as a business owner and mother of two vocal toddlers, but I had been wrong.
For more than 30 years, I had been struggling with the fear of being my true self and speaking my truth. Then the repressed memories of my childhood sexual abuse unraveled before me while raising my 3-year-old daughter, and my life has not been the same since.
Believe it or not, I am happy about that.
The journey for a survivor like me to feel even slightly comfortable sharing these words, without fear of being shamed or looked down upon, is a long and often lonely one. For all of the people out there in the shadows who are survivors of childhood sexual abuse, I dedicate this to you. You might never come out to talk about it and that's okay, but I am going to do so here and I hope that in doing so, I will open people's eyes to the long-term effects of abuse. As a survivor who is now fully conscious of her abuse, I suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and, quite frankly, it may never go away.
It took me some time to accept that and I refuse to let it stop me from thriving in life; therefore, I strive to manage it (as do many others with PTSD) through various strategies I've learned and continue to learn through personal and group therapy. Over the years, various things have triggered my repressed memories and emotions of my abuse--from going to birthday parties and attending preschool tours to the Kavanaugh hearing and most recently, the"Leaving Neverland" documentary (I did not watch the latter, but read commentary about it).
These triggers often cause panic attacks. I was angry when I read Barbara Streisand's comments about the men who accused Michael Jackson of sexually abusing them, as detailed in the documentary. She was quoted as saying, "They both married and they both have children, so it didn't kill them." She later apologized for her comments. I was frustrated when one of the senators questioning Dr. Christine Blasey Ford (during the Kavanaugh hearing) responded snidely that Dr. Ford was still able to get her Ph.D. after her alleged assault--as if to imply she must be lying because she gained success in life.We survivors are screaming to the world, "You just don't get it!" So let me explain: It takes a great amount of resilience and fortitude to walk out into society every day knowing that at any moment an image, a sound, a color, a smell, or a child crying could ignite fear in us that brings us back to that moment of abuse, causing a chemical reaction that results in a panic attack.
So yes, despite enduring and repressing those awful moments in my early life during which I didn't understand what was happening to me or why, decades later I did get married; I did become a parent; I did start a business that I continue to run today; and I am still learning to navigate this "new normal." These milestones do not erase the trauma that I experienced. Society needs to open their eyes and realize that any triumph after something as ghastly as childhood abuse should be celebrated, not looked upon as evidence that perhaps the trauma "never happened" or "wasn't that bad. "When a survivor is speaking out about what happened to them, they are asking the world to join them on their journey to heal. We need love, we need to feel safe and we need society to learn the signs of abuse and how to prevent it so that we can protect the 1 out of 10 children who are being abused by the age of 18. When I state this statistic at events or in large groups, I often have at least one person come up to me after and confide that they too are a survivor and have kept it a secret. My vehicle for speaking out was through the novella The Survivors Club, which is the inspiration behind a TV pilot that my co-creator and I are pitching as a supernatural, mind-bending TV series. Acknowledging my abuse has empowered me to speak up on behalf of innocent children who do not have a voice and the adult survivors who are silent.
Remembering has helped me further understand my young adult challenges,past risky relationships, anger issues, buried fears, and my anxieties. I am determined to thrive and not hide behind these negative things as they have molded me into the strong person I am today.Here is my advice to those who wonder how to best support survivors of sexual abuse:Ask how we need support: Many survivors have a tough exterior, which means the people around them assume they never need help--we tend to be the caregivers for our friends and families. Learning to be vulnerable was new for me, so I realized I needed a check-off list of what loved ones should ask me afterI had a panic attack.
The list had questions like: "Do you need a hug," "How are you feeling," "Do you need time alone."Be patient with our PTSD". Family and close ones tend to ask when will the PTSD go away. It isn't a cold or a disease that requires a finite amount of drugs or treatment. There's no pill to make it miraculously disappear, but therapy helps manage it and some therapies have been known to help it go away. Mental Health America has a wealth of information on PTSD that can help you and survivors understand it better. Have compassion: When I was with friends at a preschool tour to learn more about its summer camp, I almost fainted because I couldn't stop worrying about my kids being around new teenagers and staff that might watch them go the bathroom or put on their bathing suit. After the tour, my friends said,"Nubia, you don't have to put your kids in this camp. They will be happy doing other things this summer."
In that moment, I realized how lucky I was to have friends who understood what I was going through and supported me. They showed me love and compassion, which made me feel safe and not judged.