Aspirin and Other Tiny Pills

I spent a few hours being baffled by all the comments about aspirin as birth control that went by on Twitter this afternoon, until someone linked to this disturbing article in which a Santorum supporter said “Back in my days, they used Bayer aspirin for contraceptives. The gals put it between their knees and it wasn’t that costly” in a recent interview. What the fuck? I wish I could say I’m surprised that someone would think it appropriate to make a comment like that, but I’m really not. Most political discourse about contraception/abortion options these days seems to be along the lines of “if you wouldn’t be such a slut you wouldn’t need any of this,” which to be honest I find terrifying. I don’t keep myself as informed about politics as maybe I should, but every time I decide to follow things more closely I get angry and upset and back off a bit. Lately the news I’ve been hearing about efforts to severely limit reproductive rights all around the country is really worrying me.

I’m not as personally affected by this as I would have been seven or eight years ago, but that doesn’t make me care about the issue any less. I still have plenty of friends who use some form of contraception and who depend on easy access to it for their health, peace of mind, and pregnancy-prevention needs. And of course I want all women-and-other-folks-with-uteri, not just my friends, to have access. Hell, I’m in favor of birth control and abortion being either free or extremely inexpensive for everyone. In my ideal world, every insurance plan would cover these things by default, and Plan B would be available over the counter as well.

When I first became sexually active, I was taking birth control pills and using condoms with my partner, and I still operated in a state of Extreme Anxiety for the three or so days every month in between stopping the active pills and the onset of my period. Even though I knew that I usually took the last real pill Saturday and didn’t start bleeding until Monday night or Tuesday, I would generally start to panic a little by Monday morning. This happened pretty much every month for the first year or so I was sexually active, although that anxious feeling never entirely went away until my circumstances changed . And I was able to access my pills reliably; only once did I take a pill so late (two days late, oops) that I felt like I had to back it up with condoms for the rest of the month. I was very lucky that I did at least have access to pills; I would not have felt comfortable being sexually active otherwise at that point.

If you got birth control pills through my university’s student health center they were ten or fifteen dollars per month, but I got my prescription through a doctor back where my parents lived so I had to pay thirty-three dollars for mine. When I started taking the pill, I was a sophomore in college and didn’t yet have a job during the school year (although I started one the next semester), and my parents made it clear that they weren’t going to give me money for birth control and I could handle it myself. I am pretty sure they didn’t like the thought that I might be sexually active but weren’t willing to have a real discussion with me about it beyond “we won’t financially support it,” so I never really knew how they felt.

Actually, after a few years of not thinking much about the fact that I do have (presumably non-functioning) ovaries still lurking inside me, a recent relationship development put me in the surprising position of asking my doctor if I still have enough of a chance of getting pregnant that I need to use condoms (he said yes, which I was not expecting) and, later, staring at a condom display in Good Vibrations trying to figure out which kind to get. I didn’t expect to deal with any of that again, but there is technically a way that several things could go wrong at once and result in me being pregnant so I may as well be extra-cautious.

Even though I’m not concerned about birth control for my own use the way I used to be, part of my anger at this political bullshit is still personal. I’m a dude with a first-hand understanding of how important contraceptive access is. My life would have been a lot harder if I hadn’t had fairly easy access to birth control ten years ago. And I am always going to be angry at attempts to limit access, especially when those attempts come paired with ridiculous judgments on the morality of the people who need and use any sort of contraceptive.

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