Getting the healthcare I need, without shame and stigma.

by Caroline F., Student Advocacy Fellow at the University of Mary Washington

I have been pro-choice for as long as I can remember. I’ve always believed that a person should have the right to control their own body without interference from the government or any other outside institution or group.

However, I did not fully understand the depth of the problem until I was staring at a computer screen that referred to me not as a patient, but as a potential mother of an unborn child.

This unsettling rhetoric was a result of my being prescribed a medication that, if I were to become pregnant, would cause severe birth defects. When I was prescribed this medication, I was asked for a complete list of my sexual activity, use of contraception, and reproductive plans. I thought this was reasonable, but then they gave me a run-down of the hoops people capable of getting pregnant must jump through.

I was required to get two blood pregnancy tests, each a month apart, to essentially prove that I was not pregnant and could be trusted to not get pregnant. This made absolutely no sense to me, because I have never heard of a patient not being trusted with how they answer a question like this. After all, this medication would have also had awful effects on my own health if I used certain recreational drugs, but I didn’t have to undergo multiple drug tests before filling my prescription. Why did they think I lost my trustworthiness when it came to the health of a fetus that didn’t even exist ?I then had to go to my general doctor to receive counseling on contraceptive use. During this entire process, I had to take online quizzes about pregnancy through a program that referred to me as “a potential mother of an unborn child.”

This process added months to my waiting time to receive the medication I needed, and the extra blood tests and appointments hundreds of dollars to its cost, even with my health insurance.

Through this whole process I realized how deep the stigma of abortion and reproductive care is ingrained in our society and even our healthcare system. Furthermore, these absolutely unnecessary requirements made my medication so much more expensive. I, luckily, could just barely afford it, but this would likely barre many people of lower income out from getting a medication they need. I believe that stigma against abortion and reproductive rights should not affect someone’s ability to get health care they need. That is why I am pro-choice.

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