Here’s why you will never change my mind about birth control.
You’re sixteen years old, about to enter your junior year of high school. You just got back from vacation, your metabolism works faster than your appetite, and sugar is your version of coffee. Now imagine that you’re being ushered out of one doctor’s office and into another one. You’ve just been diagnosed with bone cancer and, because you’re a girl, an OBGYN is your next stop. “Chemotherapy may cause infertility,” they say. Wait, what? Infertility? What does that mean? Your mom is trying to hold back tears as she thinks of a life without grand-kids from you. Can you imagine? No. You can’t. Before you go telling me that this might have been God’s plan for me all along, save me the bullshit and listen.
At sixteen years old, I wasn’t quite sure of anything. I didn’t know if I wanted to be a doctor, or a lawyer, or a writer, or a psychologist. But I did know that, regardless of my career choice, I wanted to return home to a brood of my own children each night. So I was hit with this major bomb that I had been diagnosed with cancer; a disease requiring me to go through months of chemotherapy. Then, I was told it may or may not decrease my chances of having children if I didn’t take precaution. This precaution came in the form of birth control—a depot shot known as Lupron to be exact. Lupron’s website advertises treatment for women’s endometriosis and fibroids, children’s central precocious puberty, and MEN’S prostate cancer. What I was told, was that Lupron would put my ovaries in a dormant state. They would no longer work to produce eggs each month, therefore wouldn’t cause me to bleed. The bleeding part was crucial. Chemotherapy’s job is to kill cancer cells. However, it is not advanced enough to determine which cells are cancerous and which cells are not. So, they kill ALL the cells. Neutrophils, white blood cells, red blood cells, platelets, etc. My blood counts were scarce and I was always requiring transfusions. So, for the people who still aren’t connecting the dots, I could not afford to lose blood for ten days straight each month.
Forget the infertility factor: if you want to crush my dreams of being a mother, go ahead. Let’s talk about my life for a second— my human life. Because we’re so concerned with protecting human lives, right? Had I not received the birth control shots and pills that I needed, my chances of survival would have been very slim. I don’t have numbers or charts to give you statistical data, I have experience. I have tears and scars and nausea and medical records if you’d like, but no fancy Power Points. What I will tell you is that I was lucky enough to be the daughter of a man with a stable job. A job that provided decent benefits and insurance to cover the costs of necessary items such as Lupron. I was also lucky enough to have parents that could afford to pay the difference of what insurance didn’t cover.
What about other girls like me who aren’t so lucky? Maybe they can’t afford to pay for an injection to ease the pain of their endometriosis, or the pills to stop the cramps that make it impossible for them to get to work. Maybe they can’t afford the sonogram that can diagnose their fibroids. Maybe there’s a man who can’t afford the test to check his prostate. You know where they can go? Planned Parenthood.
Yes, they can also go there to get a referral to an outside abortion clinic if that’s something their hearts desire.
When reading my story if you are still hung up on the above sentiment of abortion, I will pray for you. Please do not preach to me the value of human life. I think part of the stigma surrounding this issue is that those opposed spend too much time focusing on minute details rather than the bigger picture. I think people who regard themselves as “pro-life” are so focused on the pieces of Planned Parenthood and women’s health that don’t fit into their agendas that they sometimes forget that the lives of the women entering those doors matter too. I assert myself as a Christian woman, but I don’t let my religion cloud my ability to love my brothers and sisters as they are; the way God intended. I don’t believe it’s possible to claim to value human life if we’re being selective about it. I am a human and my life matters. Had it not been for birth control, my journey would have been more treacherous than it was. And believe me, it was pretty rough.
In light of recent protests, past and upcoming, I want you to think of me. When you hold up your signs, be they for or opposed to the rights I possess, I hope you hear my voice in the back of your head, and I hope you listen.