By Hannah Weirs, University of Mary Washington Student Advocacy Fellow
I have a strong memory of having a conversation with my mom about birth control when I was in middle school. I don’t remember most of what was said, but I remember how she finished the conversation: “when the time comes, we’ll talk about getting you on birth control, because it makes more sense to do that than have to deal with alternatives.”
This made sense to me. I didn’t expect to need birth control at 11 or 12, that conversation could wait. However, when I turned 18 and started dating my first “serious” boyfriend, I wanted to revisit that conversation. My mom, on the other hand, did not. She clearly disapproved of the possibility that I could be having sex. So, against my best interest, I didn’t pursue the talk. I was afraid that she would tell me I had to stop seeing my boyfriend, or that she would shame me for how I chose to take charge of my body and my sexuality.
Fast-forwarding to the end of my first year of college, my first finals week, and my first skipped period since I had become sexually active. Just a week before final exams, I noticed my period was a few days late. At first, I thought nothing of it – irregular periods are not out of the ordinary for me. But more days started to pass, and I began to panic.
How was I going to tell my boyfriend? We had only been dating for two months, who knows what we would do? Was I going to have to go buy a pregnancy test? Oh God, I was going to have to buy a pregnancy test. How much does an abortion procedure cost? Could I even get an abortion, what if it’s too late? Is getting an abortion even what I wanted to do? What would other people around me think? Would they shame me?
Should I even tell anyone? Oh. My. God, I have to tell my mom. How the hell am I going to tell my mom?
These thoughts plagued me through finals week. My biggest fear became seeing two tiny pink lines on a positive pregnancy test. Then, a crashing wave of relief came. My period, probably late due to the stress of final exams, had finally arrived. I didn’t have to buy a pregnancy test after all. I didn’t have to tell my mom after all. Everything was going to be okay.
The pregnancy scare understandably shook me to my core, especially timed during my first finals week with my first serious boyfriend. Even though my period had come, the sense of dread I had felt didn’t leave me for a long time. I still wanted to have sex, but I wanted to make sure that I was having the safest sex possible, out of fear of another scare.
I look at my pregnancy scare as a defining moment for why I am pro-choice. I want people – especially young people who live in anti-choice households or environments like I did – to have the access to contraceptives they need, because no one should have to live in fear of an unwanted pregnancy, or feel that their body is out of their control because of something as basic as a pack of pills.
Young people’s choices are currently under threat, not just from anti-choice families, households, and environments, but from anti-choice lawmakers who are working around the clock to roll back access to abortion and birth control. Anti-choice parents or guardians can use these legal decisions to further shame young people from accessing the reproductive care that is essential to their health.
We as pro-choice Virginians cannot allow for these bills to advance in our legislatures. We need to contact our representatives in the Virginia General Assembly. We need to get out the vote for pro-choice candidates. We need to raise our voices for those that cannot be heard in their anti-choice homes. They deserve reproductive care and peace of mind just as much as the next person. We owe it to them.