Activists’ offer: Birth control will not end the need for abortions
In a viral TikTok by Shonda Rhimes, leads from the eighteenth season and still-running medical drama series Grey’s Anatomy go through a script urging people to immediately resort to birth control to protect themselves amidst the changing legal situation regarding changes to abortion.
“Knowledge is power,” says Ellen Pompeo, who plays the show’s title character, Meredith Grey. “You are powerful,” Chandra Wilson repeats.
And, adds Kim Raver, “To be powerful means to have options.”
Other various cast members – including Kelly McCreary, Kevin McKidd, Catarina Scorsone and Kate Burton – have come forward with similar messages.
Contraception and emergency contraception may be inaccessible to many, even as there are increasing options and ways to obtain these drugs.
It is certainly commendable to be able to discuss contraception so openly and without stigma or shame. But while these actors are right — access to birth control and emergency contraception is crucial as more and more states are ending abortion laws — their advice is short-sighted, as is the show’s tendency to oversimplify medical realities for dramatic effect .
Birth control and emergency contraception will certainly play a crucial role in preventing unwanted pregnancies in a post-roe United States, as well as holistic fertility management and other preventive measures. However, they will never replace the need for abortion access.
In the wake of leaked US Supreme Court opinion outlining an ending Roe v. calfSeveral states have cracked down on the legality of abortion, including Oklahoma, which became the first state in the country to outright ban abortion in a post.roe Context. But other states, like Idaho and Louisiana, are threatening to go even further by making certain forms of birth control illegal as well, based on the mistaken belief that some forms of birth control, such as IUDs, can serve as a form of abortion.
Anything that can prevent an egg from being fertilized could one day be banned in certain parts of the country.
Additionally, birth control and emergency contraception may be inaccessible to many, even as more options and ways to obtain these drugs proliferate. For people in contraceptive deserts, contraception can be very expensive and usually requires insurance. Long-lasting forms of birth control, such as IUDs, which have the highest rate of birth control, can cost as much as $1,300. With abortion clinics forced to close in the coming months, there will be even fewer places where people can access these forms of birth control.
There are also few non-hormonal contraceptive methods that are effective and well tolerated. (Hormonal birth control can come with a number of side effects that can affect mood, weight, skin quality, and blood clotting.) Non-hormonal options like the copper IUD can cause extremely heavy periods, cramping, and bloating.
Not everyone is educated about birth control or its options, and some people just don’t want to be involved.
Emergency contraception is usually even more expensive than birth control, ranging from $35 to $250. And there are no emergency contraception options for people who weigh more than 195 pounds.
And not all pregnancies are consensual. One in six US women has been the victim of attempted or actual rape in her lifetime, and access to abortion care is a crucial part of sexual assault recovery.
Even wanted pregnancies sometimes have to end in an abortion. Whether the fetus is not viable or the life of the pregnant person is in danger, the reality is that many people do do wanting to give birth sometimes need abortions.
Access to all contraceptive and emergency contraception options is a necessary part of a person’s overall health and well-being, but focusing solely on increasing the use of these drugs rather than continuing to fight for access to abortion is short-sighted and exclusionary.
Every person should have the right to terminate a pregnancy at any time – not just to avoid preventing it in the first place. Perhaps Shonda Rhimes can create more empowering TikTok resources on abortion access.