The following post was originally featured on Medium.
Last month, I did something a little outside my comfort zone. In the cold, early morning hours of my day off, I climbed into a bus with total strangers to take a 500-mile road trip through mountains and desert to my state’s capital. I was doing this as a citizen activist and as part of a “#FeministRoadtrip” put on by NARAL Pro-Choice America. It was the first time I have ever visited Carson City, and the first time I have ever shared my story with the people elected to represent me in the Nevada State Legislature.
The trip was amazing. Yes, I was a bit nervous as we got started on the journey. After all, I was leaving my two-year-old son behind to go on an 8-hour bus ride with people I had never met before. But the amazing people on the bus with me were comforting and supportive. And their excitement was contagious.
When we got to Carson City, I had the chance to tell my state’s leaders my story and why standing up for women and our families makes our communities stronger. We asked our legislators to take action and make birth control affordable and accessible for Nevadans by supporting AB 249 (Frierson)and SB 233 (Ratti).
The people I talked with and the friendships I made gave me so much hope for everything that we as NARAL members are fighting for. I have so much hope that we can create real change that gives women the power to choose our own destinies.
NARAL Nevada members meeting with Assemblyman Ozzie Fumo.
When I became pregnant with my son at age 16, I didn’t have this power to choose. My destiny was chosen for me by my own economic standing and by politicians who think it’s fine to substitute their ideology for other people’s medical decisions. This was in 2013, right before birth control would become more affordable and accessible for millions of women thanks to the Affordable Care Act. This landmark health law eliminated co-pays for birth control and made it easier for women to afford birth control no matter how much or little they make. Thanks to this law, an estimated 55 million women have saved $1.4 billion on birth control. That’s progress that we can’t afford to give up.
Yet politicians like President [Donald] Trump and his allies want to take away our access to affordable birth control. They want to make it harder for families like mine to plan our futures.
That’s why NARAL is working with Nevada leaders to ensure that women have access to affordable birth control no matter what the politicians in Washington do. In Carson City, I met with state legislators to support AB 249 and SB 233. This bill ensures contraception remains affordable by codifying no co-pays for contraception in Nevada law. The bill would also allow women to receive up to 12-months of birth control at a time – a real benefit for women who work long hours or have to travel great distances to their doctor and pharmacy.
The reality is that the majority of Americans support protecting and expanding our access to reproductive health care. Seven in 10 Americans think healthcare plans should cover birth control. The same number believe that abortion should be legal and accessible. And the same number do not want the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. That’s not just a majority, that’s a consensus that stretches across state lines and across party affiliations.
I’m so happy I joined other NARAL members on the #FeministRoadtrip. It showed me that my voice is powerful in the fight to keep basic reproductive health care accessible for everyone. I don’t want any other woman to be left without the right to choose – the right to make her own medical decisions about her own body without interference from politicians and their ideological agendas.
So I will keep teaming up with NARAL to fight for this bill and policies that protect and expand everyone’s reproductive freedom. This means keeping birth control affordable. It means fighting against medically unnecessary laws that restrict our access to basic health care, including abortion. It means fighting against pregnancy discrimination and supporting efforts to pass comprehensive paid family leave and affordable child care. I may not have the strongest voice or all the answers. But my experience with NARAL has taught me that when we stand up and speak out, we can never be ignored.