We march to ensure birth control access for all

We march to ensure birth control access for all
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About a year ago, millions nationwide and across the world marched with purpose. We marched last year because of the threats the Trump presidency posed to women’s rights, civil rights, healthcare reform, LGBTQ rights and much more. We marched last year hoping that the message that millions of us carried would awaken the world and the administration to our concerns.

Unfortunately, the threat we saw a year ago remains. That is why this Saturday I will be marching again with countless others nationwide. We will march loudly, proudly, and together to fight for young people’s power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant.

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The administration has taken many actions to undermine that power this year, and so we will march against these ongoing attacks on young people’s right to quality sex education and everyone’s access to no cost or low cost contraception.

 

As the second year of the current administration gets underway, we will continue to fight for young people. Our policy priorities are clear:

  1. Ensure that millions of women can continue to obtain no co-pay contraception
  2. Sustain a strong network of safety-net clinics providing high quality contraceptive care through the Title X family planning program and Medicaid
  3. Maintain the good work of the federal Teen Pregnancy Prevention (TPP) Program and the Personal Responsibility Education Program (PREP).
  4. Make certain that all young people have the sexual health information they need to plan their futures.

We march with science and evidence on our side. Just look at the progress we have made. Unplanned pregnancy among women of all ages has declined for the first time in decades.  Since peaking in the early 1990s, the nation’s teen birth rate has declined 67 percent and the unplanned pregnancy rate has fallen 18 percent. There has been progress in all 50 states and among all racial/ethnic groups.

Yet even with this progress, women of color, young women living in poverty, and young women in rural areas are more likely to experience an unplanned pregnancy. These disparities are due, in part, to the fact that more than 19 million women in need of publicly funded contraception live in contraceptive deserts, where they do not have reasonable access in their county to a public clinic that offers the full range of contraceptive methods.  Complacency is simply not an option.

Nearly 9 in 10 (87 percent) individuals 18 and older agree that everyone deserves the power to access the full range of birth control methods, no matter who they are, where they live, or what their economic status is, according to a recent survey conducted by Power to Decide.  

I know I am not alone in feeling disheartened by the efforts of this administration to cut and restrict programs that we know help, and are necessary, to reduce unplanned pregnancies.  We must remember that there is strength in numbers. Together we can overcome obstacles and have a positive impact on people’s lives.

As we march this weekend, I will carry the many stories of young people whose lives have been changed because they have access to contraception. We can’t and we won’t go back. Remember that before birth control was legalized in 1970, there was not one woman CEO of a Fortune 500 company.

Thanks in no small part to birth control and the ability for women to make proactive decisions about their education and their families, today we have over 32 female CEOs—6.4 percent of the U.S.’s biggest companies are now run by women. Progress? Yes. Victory? Decidedly not.

So let’s march for women, children, and families nationwide to help ensure all young people have the power to decide if, when and under what circumstances to get pregnant and live life on their own terms.   

Ginny Ehrlich is CEO at Power to Decide, a private, non-partisan, non-profit organization that works to ensure all people — no matter who they are, where they live, or what their economic status might be — have the power to decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant.