This International Women’s Day, Let’s Unite Around Choice

Originally posted by Carolyn Witte, Co-Founder and CEO of Tia

I started Tia because I wanted to build a company — a product, a brand, and a community — that unites women. At a time when so many issues divide us, a desire to have control over, and choice in, our reproductive healthcare, is something that can unite us.

In the U.S., 99% of sexually active women age 15–44 have used birth control. Globally, more than 300 million women are using birth control today. There is an inherent beauty in this shared reproductive experience that transcends race, borders, socioeconomics, and dare I say, party lines. Rich, poor, black, white, purple, yellow — every woman on earth has questions about what’s going on in her body, and a desire to make informed healthcare decisions with confidence. Yet, the current politicizing of women’s health prevents us women from seeing it this way.

For every public $1 invested in family planning in the U.S., $7 is saved to the system (link).
When women in developing countries space their births by at least three years, their babies are almost twice as likely to reach their first birthday (link).

The stats go on. When you invest in family planning, you invest in a woman and you invest in her family. You invest in the future.

This isn’t rocket science. And it’s not controversial. It’s just a fact.

But, in a world of alternative facts, even the most scientifically-proven and universal of evidence is challenged and politicized. As a result, women’s health, both in the U.S. and around the world, is under attack.

The Trump administration’s reinstatement and expansion of the global gag rule will cause nongovernmental organizations around the world working for the betterment of women and their families to lose funding — all because they mention abortion. Unlike its predecessors, Trump’s version of the gag rule does not only apply to U.S. family planning funding, but all global health funding, roughly $9.5 billion dollars in aid. By providing women with any information whatsoever about abortion and their options, organizations working on AIDS, malaria, and maternal and child health are considered “ill-fit” to receive U.S. foreign aid.

To take one example, Geeta Rao Gupta, a senior fellow at the United Nations Foundation, explains how this will affect HIV/AIDS clinics that get U.S. funding to provide antiretrovirals: “If they’re giving advice to women on what to do if they’re pregnant and HIV positive, giving them all the options that exist, they cannot now receive money from the U.S.”

And just this week here at home in the U.S., we see our very our national “gag rule” proposed. Trump’s proposed “deal” to Planned Parenthood: stop providing legal and safe abortions, and you can keep your funding for cervical cancer screenings and all the other “uncontroversial” work you do, OR, lose all of your funding, putting Planned Parenthood’s ability to provide any health care services to women in severe danger. To get the facts straight, there is already zero federal funding for abortions due to the Hyde Amendment. Moreover, history shows that when a woman cannot get an abortion legally, she will find a way to get one illegally, often through dangerous channels that put her life at risk. To pose this as a “choice” to women, and to healthcare providers like Planned Parenthood, is the ultimate fallacy.

These attacks on women’s healthcare in the U.S. and globally are a reminder that when one woman’s reproductive choices are undermined, all of our rights are in jeopardy.

We at Tia believe wholeheartedly in choice — a real choice — for all.

We believe in bodily autonomy.
We believe in the right for every person to make independent and informed decisions for their own bodies and lives with confidence.
We believe that only you can distinguish between what is right and wrong for your body, your life, and your family.

This International Women’s Day, we are celebrating and defending choice, with all of its baggage, for all. This universally shared experience of reproduction can only be unifying if we stand together and defend choice — a real choice — for everyone.

To join us, share what “choice” means to you in the comments below.

Tia is your personal, private, digital, women’s health assistant whose sole purpose is to help women make independent and informed healthcare decisions with confidence. Interested in checking her out? Join our beta.