By Nicole Grim, NARAL Pro-Choice Virginia staff
On January 28, seven male lawmakers in a Virginia State House Subcommittee defeated a bill which would have dramatically expanded birth control access across the Commonwealth. It would have allowed women to obtain a 12-month supply of birth control—instead of a 1- to 3-month supply, in a single pharmacy visit. We could have had it, and it would have been glorious, and a bunch of men said no.
Seven votes, made by seven men— and only men— ended this bill in the Virginia House of Delegates.*
(Update: a Senate version of this bill was also defeated in Committee on February 4).
I take my birth control pretty seriously—it’s a vital part of keeping me happy, healthy, and in control of my life. I’ve been taking my monthly pill pack ever since my sophomore year in high school, with one exception: a short stretch of time in college, when I was balancing a full course load, active participation in three student organizations, and a part-time job. Instead of refilling my birth control, I stopped taking it because the logistics of my life didn’t fit into a 9-5 pharmacy window. I thought I’d be fine, and I was wrong.
When my period started at the end of that first, pill-free month, I got cramps so extreme I nearly passed out in my Arabic language class. I broke out into a cold sweat, my hearing was distorted, I had severe tunnel vision— it was unbearable. I left class halfway through the lesson, but I couldn’t even drive myself home.
And I’ve never been off the pill since.
Now, I’m not asking for the world here. I don’t expect my male legislators to understand painful cramps, or trying to fill a prescription every 30 days when you’re working multiple jobs or off-peak hours, or when you don’t have reliable access to transportation, or when the closest pharmacy is miles away in rural Virginia, or when you’re anxiously waiting a few days for a prescription to be filled and hoping that break in consistency doesn’t mess up your whole cycle.
But I do expect them to understand common sense.
Republican, Democrat, anti-choice, pro-choice, male, female—we should all be able to agree that making birth control more accessible to better prevent unintended pregnancy (and terrorizing cramps) is a good—nay, great– thing! According to the Centers for Disease Control, a 12 month supply of birth control decreases unplanned pregnancy by 30%! It’s unanimously recommended by the CDC and by The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. And it’s recommended by me, and thousands of other Virginia women who simply deserve better control over our reproductive lives.
This legislation is common sense—and this vote showed that these seven male legislators are more concerned with their politics than with meeting the needs of the women they represent. The hypocrisy of opposing abortion but defeating a bill that would help women & families avoid an unintended pregnancy infuriates me. This group of men put their politics above my—our—reproductive and economic futures as Virginians. I’m angry at them for it, and you should be too.
*Author’s note: All men are not terrible when it comes to reproductive healthcare. Delegate Hope, who introduced this legislation, is a man, and so is my boyfriend, who has picked up my birth control on numerous occasions when I haven’t had time because he, too, understands how vital it is.