by Sam Allen
This past week I walked into a pharmacy to pick up a prescription. A prescription that I desperately need every day. I approached the counter and asked to pick up my birth control and was met with a familiar and obnoxious dialogue. When I went to pay, I noticed that my prescription had increased by $1 since last month. I furrowed my brow; this was the fourth time my prescription had been raised in price over the past three years. “My birth control seems to be getting more and more expensive,” I said to pharmacist. I expected that this was a familiar conversation for this man. I imagined that many were peeved at the raise in prices of their much needed medications. What I did not expect was the mocking reply I received.
“Yeah, it would be cheaper to raise a baby at this point,” he said. I gave the man a confused laugh. I wasn’t sure why he was talking to me about childbearing.
“Not quite,” I said trying to end the conversation and leave.
“God, diapers are SO affordable right now,” he said to me with a smirk. I grabbed my prescription and left without another word, still not entirely sure what he was getting at. Then it hit me. Oh yes, birth control’s only purpose is to prevent babies. Oh how dim of me to have forgotten. My oh my, my thriving sex life would need to be put to a halt because of the extra $5 the pharmaceutical companies are charging me a month for my deviant sex pills.
Let’s get something straight: for those of you who are not already aware, many women like myself, take birth control for many reasons not including contraception. I thought this much was obvious, but boy was I wrong. The pharmacist didn’t even seem to realize that. So here I am informing you. It was so lovely to be mocked while trying to purchase a medication that helps me manage my excruciatingly painful 10-day periods. In fact, not that I should have to tell anyone this, I started taking birth control before I became sexually active, because these 10-day periods starting coming twice a month. Twenty days out of the month I was unable to live comfortably.
I bet this pharmacist wouldn’t have said the same thing to the person behind me.
“Oh dear, it seems that my blood pressure medication keeps getting more expensive.”
“Oh yeah, it would be far cheaper to have surgery. You know, funerals are also super affordable right now.”
I am so sick of this. I am exhausted by people making assumptions about women’s health. I’m tired of the battle I have to fight to not be in constant pain.
Just this past year, I was admitted into the hospital for a week due to a health issue. When I got there I spoke to the nurse informing her that I would need to stay on my birth control. I even told her why I needed to be on it. She checked my charts and admitted that it wouldn’t interfere with my treatment and that she would be happy to accommodate me. Two days later, even after asking over and over and being met with “Oh yeah we’ll check with our pharmacy on that,” my medication never arrived and the pain was already starting to set in. I had to beg a friend to get it for me.
The hospital was a Catholic institution and apparently, as I was informed later, was completely justified in refusing to supply me with this particular medication. Just so we’re clear, the hospital was great in every other aspect and treated me very well, but I was appalled by their ability to decide to refuse me a medication that they knew I needed. I know, I know, reader, anecdotal evidence isn’t concrete. “… [I]f your doctor’s practice is purchased by a Catholic health system that then imposes the Ethical & Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services, a set of rules created by the U.S. Bishop’s Conference that prohibits doctors from doing everything from prescribing the Pill to performing sterilizations or abortions,” according to Salon. Salon also pointed out that “Eight of the largest health systems in America are now Catholic-owned.” So this isn’t just my problem. If you have a uterus, this involves you too.
I want this ridiculous war on birth control to come to an end. Even if I didn’t have a health issue that made birth control a necessity, no one should be made to feel bad about themselves for the purchase or use of birth control. No one should be refused contraception, or mocked for asking for it.