#HandsOffMyBC

by Brittany Wortham

What do doctors, handmaids, and social justice warriors all have in common? They’re all fighting for women’s reproductive rights. I caught up with a few of Georgia’s most vocal pro-choice advocates last week at the Hands Off My Birth Control Rally in Atlanta.

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The rally, which was held in front of the Health and Human Services Building, was a response to President Donald Trump’s recent executive order allowing employers to leave birth control out of company insurance plans based on religious grounds. It was coordinated with protests in Dallas, Denver, Kansas City, and Washington, D.C.

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The night before, I spoke to Laura Simmons, State Director of NARAL Pro-Choice Georgia. When asked about how to best combat policies that restrict access to birth control, she stressed the importance of electing pro-choice candidates, saying:

“In Georgia in particular, where we have a legislature comprised primarily of people who are anti-choice, the first and foremost thing that you can do is to support candidates who are pro-choice and who are going to stand up for women’s rights.”

The rally drew a surprising number of supporters for a Wednesday afternoon and featured several speakers, including Alaina Reaves, Organizing & Engagement Coordinator for a group called #VOTEPROCHOICE. She touched on the importance of birth control and its many uses, saying:

“Birth control is not just about family planning. It’s used to treat endometriosis, heavy bleeding, menstrual cramps…It’s used to treat other medical conditions, and no woman should have to explain her use of birth control or be denied coverage based on her job or her company’s beliefs.”

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When it comes to providing family-planning options, Georgia legislation is a mixed bag. While birth control is readily obtainable, coverage for it is limited and there are some restrictions for minors. Abortions are legal, but also come with some restrictions, including a mandatory 24-hour wait period and parental notifications for minors.

Access to birth control is important not just for women, but for society in general. As long as any woman is restricted in her right to control her reproductive future, none of us are truly free. Men in power will try to convince us that it’s an abstract moral concept or a niche women’s issue, but we can’t accept that. This is a struggle worth fighting for.

If you’re interested fighting for women’s reproductive rights, start by following these groups on Facebook: NARAL Pro-choice Georgia, Georgia Alliance for Social Justice, Feminist Women’s Health Center-Atlanta, and Planned Parenthood Southeast Advocates

If you have a story to share or an event you’d like me cover, email me at bwortham@atlampd.com.

All photos taken by Brittany Wortham, 2017

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