Be Loud and Proud About Your Birth Control

I made an earring out of my IUD, because reproductive choice is nothing to be ashamed of.

Me wearing the earring I made out of my old IUD. Photo Credit: Author

I made an earring out of my old Mirena IUD. What do you think? I know the copper Paragard IUD might’ve made a cuter earring, but when I got this IUD inserted into my uterus in 2014, I chose the hormonal Mirena IUD for lighter periods and less menstrual cramps.

It’s past time to talk about our uterine healthcare, our birth control, and our abortion access, because for women (and transmen and nonbinary folks with uteri), our ability to control our own bodies is on the line.To live in the world as independent humans, we need education, choices, and access.

Remember the Hobby Lobby case in 2014? Even before Trump started packing the courts with anti-choice justices, the Supreme Court decided 5–4 that corporations can deny their workers access to birth control based on the corporation’s religious beliefs (because corporations are people, obviously.)

So Hobby Lobby was allowed to deny their employees access to IUDs, even though birth control access is supposed to be guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act, because management at the Hobby Lobby said their corporation believes IUDs are abortion.

What else might corporations believe in the near future?

As Jessica Valenti writes in her piece Republicans Won’t Stop at Abortion: Eventually, they’ll go after birth control, too:

“If abortion is illegal, and birth control is classified as abortion, what do you think happens next? Their agenda is hiding in plain sight. This is why any talk of ‘compromise’ on abortion isn’t based in reality; the end game is far more radical than most Americans understand.”

I love my IUD. That little trooper stayed firmly inside my uterus for four and a half years, allowing me to have a varied sex life and never worry about pregnancy or pills.

For some, birth control means the choice to never become a parent. For me, birth control allowed me to choose when to become a parent. Then, once I had a kid and our family was complete, birth control allowed me the choice to easily be one and done.

These choices — whether to birth children, when to birth children, and how many children to birth — are vital to ensuring that females are equal members of society, rather than farm animals. (For the record, I don’t think we should treat any animal this way.)

A few months ago, I got my IUD removed because my monogamous partner got a vasectomy. I am so thankful to live in a time when we have the technology for so many reproductive healthcare choices, but also so angry and afraid, because these choices are currently under attack.

The entire birth control patchwork — pills, patches, IUDs, surgical interventions, fertility tracking, and barrier methods — is necessary, so everyone can find something that works for their situation. Why exactly should your boss have a say in your birth control choice?

And the only way the government should concern itself with these options is to make sure people all across the country — the world — have access to free birth control options.

Even when used correctly — and often it’s not — birth control is never 100 percent effective. So access to safe, free/affordable abortion services is always necessary too.

“But what about abstinence?” (Anyone else sick of that question?)

A study in the journal PLOS ONE revealed what birth control advocates already suspected: Increasing emphasis on abstinence education is positively correlated with teenage pregnancy and birth rates. In other words, teaching abstinence-only in school leads to more unplanned pregnancies, not less.

No matter how many times you tell people to just not have sex, people are going to have sex. So let’s increase access to free birth control and teach everyone how to use it.

Among developed nations, the United States has the highest rates of both teenage pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Insisting on abstinence doesn’t work. Access to free birth control, reproductive education, and abortion does work.

My IUD is nothing to be ashamed of. Your birth control choices are nothing to be ashamed of. And neither is your abortion.

I don’t need my IUD in my uterus anymore, so when I’m feeling brave, I’ll wear it as an earring instead, in the hopes that people will ask me about it. And together, we’ll demystify birth control. We’ll remember freedom from unwanted pregnancy is as vital to our humanity as food and shelter. Our uteri will come out from the shadows and finally be free.