The Fight for Birth Control Comes to Huntington

Community members came together to take action on a sometimes-controversial topic: birth control. Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic, Planned Parenthood Generation Action, West Virginia Women’s March and Cabell County Young Democrats sponsored the event where people could ask questions, sign petitions and even mail postcards to legislators.

Emily Thompson, field organizer for Planned Parenthood Votes! South Atlantic, said although the meeting started as a discussion of birth control rights, it quickly became more.

“It started as only a fight for birth control event,” Thompson said. “Then in the face of all the attacks on reproductive healthcare in West Virginia, we decided to expand it to talk about the constitutional amendment SJR 12 but also to talk about some exciting things going on in West Virginia like our menstrual equity campaign.”

The groups help to educate people on reproductive health issues, rights and how current legislature can affect these rights.

Thompson said she believes these issues and rights are constantly under attack, which is why she felt compelled to take action.

“We are constantly fighting for our right to have access to contraceptives and access to safe and legal abortion,” Thompson said. “We’re even having to have access to menstrual products. So, it’s just really important that we are all educated on what these issues are, and we are taking action to fight for this access and these rights.”

Freshman and member of Planned Parenthood Generation Action at Marshall Lydia Roberts said she thinks it can be difficult for students to get access to resources and understand their rights.

“It’s really hard for women to get birth control, especially on campus,” Roberts said. “A lot of college students have limited funding, they have limited transportation, and also it’s when they’re first starting to experiment, so that’s something they struggle with, because they’re just familiarizing themselves with their likes and their wants, and they don’t need to have their parents support, and they shouldn’t have to, because they’re becoming their own person.”

The groups made postcards that were mailed to Senator Joe Manchin, asking for support on S1985, a protect access to birth control act in the U.S. Congress.

Thompson said she hopes to reach legislators, because many don’t understand that access to birth control and menstrual products is an issue.

“Not everybody has access to period products,” Thompson said. “People are missing school, people in prison don’t have access to them, people are going without, people are reusing products. It’s a huge issue, but it’s not really talked about, so we are writing to our legislators to let them know that this is an issue in West Virginia. We want them to support any bills or initiatives that would expand on this.”

The groups will meet again Saturday at the state capitol for a rally for women’s rights.

Kyra Biscarner can be contacted at [email protected]