I had a lapse in insurance a few years ago and paid nearly $250 for my three-month supply of birth control. Luckily, I had the money, but that's not always the case for people who face these barriers on a regular basis or don't have health insurance. If you have a similar story and want to show your support for birth control access, there's a new social media initiative that makes it simple.
Share an Instagram Story or Twitter post about your own struggles to access birth control with the hashtag #KissMyAccess by Oct. 31, and online prescription service Simple Health will donate one month of birth control to an uninsured person. The company is partnering with Power to Decide, a nonprofit dedicated to reducing unplanned pregnancies, for the campaign. In addition to donating birth control, it hopes to break down the stigma surrounding conversations about reproductive health care access.
The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has long recommended that oral birth control should be available without a prescription, and Simple Health's chief medical officer Dr. Rashmi Kudesia, MD, tells Bustle that people who run out of birth control and need refills often run into issues.
"You can’t just drop everything you’re doing, take the day off of work, and go see your gynecologist," she says. "Obviously, the onus is frequently on women in heterosexual relationships to provide the contraception. I think there’s a lot of anxiety over that."
Ultimately, participating in the #KissMyAccess campaign during the month of October is just one way to speak up. Here are four other ways you can promote birth control access all year-round.
1. Donate To Nonprofits
Donating to nonprofits that advocate for birth control access is one effective way to help. For example, Power to Decide has a Contraceptive Access Fund to help people at an economic disadvantage go to doctor's appointments and get birth control. The fund provides reimbursements for medical costs, unpaid time off, gas, and childcare — you can donate to it here.
2. Volunteer At Planned Parenthood
In August, Planned Parenthood withdrew from the federal Title X program after the Trump administration made it more difficult for clinics that offer abortions to receive funding from the government (even though abortions aren't federally funded). According to Planned Parenthood's most recent annual report, about 402,000 unintended pregnancies are prevented yearly thanks to its services. If you're looking for an alternative to donating, or simply want to get even more involved, you can join the organization's volunteer program.
3. Advocate In Your Personal Life
Kudesia says that having honest conversations about birth control is another way to help break down barriers to care. When you hear comments from people who think birth control is a partisan issue, she explains, you can share that you think contraceptives should be easy for everyone to access — and remind people that pregnancy prevention isn't the only reason people take birth control.
"It’s not something that should be stigmatized, and yet it’s very clear that it is," she tells Bustle. For example, Kudesia says she's heard from women who have been afraid to get a birth control prescription filled because they know their pharmacist and don't want to feel judged.
4. Write To Lawmakers
President Donald Trump has repeatedly tried to make it more difficult for women to access contraceptives, but you can write to your lawmakers to ask them to write and support legislation that guarantees affordable birth control.
Sen. Cory Booker introduced legislation in April to require pharmacies to provide contraception, but right now according to GovTrack, it only has a 3% chance of being enacted as law. You can also use congressional data website GovTrack to find your senators and representatives. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund offers pointers on what to say to lawmakers.
According to Power to Decide, more than 19 million women in the U.S. need publicly funded contraception and have a hard time accessing it. And if you believe no one should have to give up their medication because they can't afford it, you can help create change.
Dr. Rashmi Kudesia, MD, Reproductive Endocrinology and Infertility (REI) Specialist and Chief Medical Advisor for Simple Health