From Puerto Rican women being used as guinea pigs for contraceptive testing to these same islanders and their Mexican-American hermanas in California being sterilized against their will, there’s no doubt that Latinas have a complicated history with birth control. But that doesn’t mean many of us aren’t thankful for BC today.
Birth control methods like IUDs and the patch to diaphragms, sponges and, yes, even the pill have allowed countless Latinas, and Latinx people, to give birth when (and if!) they want to, helping us live out our education and career aspirations that, consequently, provide us with more economic stability.
According to the National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health, 97 percent of Latinas, including those of faith, have used contraception. Even more, 74 percent of U.S.-born Latinas (and 62 percent of foreign-born Latinas) believe BC should be safe and accessible.
Here’s why some Latinas want to say, #ThxBirthControl.
1. Juliana Britto Schwartz
"Without kids, I have the time and flexibility to take jobs I love and worry a little less about money. I'm able to invest in my career first, so that I've followed my dreams as an individual before I decide to raise kids. Thanks, birth control."
2. Erika L. Sánchez
"I am so grateful that I live in an age and place in which I can control my own fertility. When I was a young woman, I was absolutely certain that I didn't want to have children until I had attained a higher education and gained financial independence. I'm now 31, and completely satisfied with my choice not to become a parent. Unfortunately, however, legislators are constantly fighting to take this fundamental right away from us. We have to remain vigilant."
3. Bianca Laureano
"I'm thankful for my ParaGard IUD (the non-hormonal option that lasts 9+ years) because, growing up in a family of Puerto Rican women who remember the original birth control pill trials at home and how some women died, hormonal methods have scared me. I have an instantly effective long-term, non-hormonal option that gives me power with my body, not just over it. My IUD allows me to enjoy my body and sexual experiences with my partners because pleasure for women of color is essential."
4. Blanca Torres
"I'm not sure if I want to be a mother or not. What I am sure of is my career path and goals for my future. I am passionate about access to reproductive health (yeah, including birth control). I've always had access to all the reproductive health care that I've needed, and it's not a privilege I take lightly. Having access to an incredibly reliable method of birth control (I use Mirena) has allowed me to make three huge life-changing moves to major U.S. cities to follow my passion and even get to travel. I mean, my parents didn't come to this country and continue to work incredibly hard for me to do anything else but to follow my dreams.
Maybe I'll be a mom some day, maybe I won't. But I am beyond thankful that birth control helps me plan my life for me, whatever that might mean for my future. #thxbirthcontrol."
5. Verónica Bayetti Flores
"I'm thankful for birth control because I've been able to have a degree of self-determination that I just simply wouldn't have had without it. I didn't want to be a mother when I was young, and I don't want to be a mother now. I know a ton of really kick-ass women who had kids when they were very young, and I'm down for them forever (shout-out to all the teen mamas out there making it work!). People make the choices that make the most sense to them in the circumstances that they're in; for me, birth control was essential.
I feel it's important to say that I'm a queer woman, and that birth control has played a really important role in my life. We forget that there are a ton of people in LGBTQ communities that might need birth control, either because the sex we have could end up in reproduction or because of all the reasons for which hormonal birth control methods are used as a treatment. Access to birth control isn't a solidarity issue for the LGBTQ community; it's squarely our issue. The people who don't believe in trans women's right to exist in this world or even pee in peace are the same people who are pressed about the idea that people can have sexual pleasure that's separate from reproduction."
6. Amanda Alcántara
"Because of birth control, I feel sexually free. I grew up in a conservative environment where sexuality on a woman was shamed, so the ability to access birth control as a first step to letting go of that shame has been very powerful for me. I've tried different forms of birth control, such as the pill, an IUD and mostly condoms. I think that I'm privileged to be in a position to try different methods and suffer only minor monetary loss because I have insurance. It is a shame that birth control isn't more accessible and that organizations that provide it to those without insurance like Planned Parenthood are constantly under attack. It’s also a huge shame that people are pushing for Hobby Lobby. I’m pro-choice and believe that every woman should be able to make decisions on her own, whether to choose abortion, or to keep a pregnancy, or any other option. And those options start with easy access to birth control. #ThxBirthControl!"
7. Daniela Ramirez
"Birth control helped me finish my education and pursue my dream career at Planned Parenthood, where we work every day to ensure that women across the country have the ability to do the same. I suffered from debilitating menstrual cramps all of my life, and I'm also not ready to have kids just yet. I'm incredibly thankful to have access to birth control, as it has helped ease my pain and allowed me to wait to have children until I'm ready to do so. And I'm not alone. At Planned Parenthood, we launched our #BirthControlHelpedMe campaign to show just how much birth control has helped women, just like me, plan and protect their futures. Seeing their stories only reinforces how grateful I am to have access to the affordable birth control method of my choosing."
8. Angy Rivera
"Having access to contraceptives is important to me because it allows us to make decisions over our bodies and well-being. Contraceptives are life saving, and they’re a crucial part of our reproductive health. It's important for us to have optimal reproductive freedom because Latinas have been denied agency for too long. Accessing birth control services shouldn't be a privilege, and it shouldn't be determined by our immigration status, income or geographic location. Using birth control is important to me because it allowed me to find power in my decisions after my voice had been silenced due to abuse and our unjust immigration system. When we are able to have a say in our reproductive future, we are exercising our power. We have a long road ahead of us to ensure that all of our familias have access to contraceptives, abortion services, quality and gender-affirming care, affordable housing, well-paying jobs and all the things needed to thrive."
9. Prisca Dorcas Mojica Rodriguez
"I was pretty late catching the birth control plane. I was married really young, and we wanted children, though we did not make intentional efforts to get pregnant. I began to use birth control pretty consistently after I got divorced. So I am thankful for birth control because, at this moment in my life, getting on birth control was one of those things I did for me, about me, to have some control of my own destiny and future. Birth control let me decide what was going to happen to my body, from that moment on. Birth control gave me the freedom to safely explore what it meant to be sexual in my late twenties."
10. Kimberly Inez McGuire
"Contraception has a complex history with Latinas. Unfortunately, Puerto Rican women were used as unwilling test subjects, and we have been targeted for coercion and sterilization. But when it's on our own terms, birth control can be life changing. Since my first trip to a Planned Parenthood clinic at 16, to the IUD I use today, I am grateful I'm able to take control of my sex life, plan my future and have a family when I'm ready."
11. Natasha Vianna
"I am participating in #ThxBirthControl because every person deserves the right, the ability and the resources to make judgment-free and informed choices about their sexual and reproductive health. Accessing birth control needs to be a respectful process, and there should not be any method, choice or outcome that is more respectable than another. Birth control should simply ensure someone has exactly what they need, when they need it, to be healthy and live their lives as planned. No one should feel powerless. Although I've had bad experiences in the past, I made a choice to try birth control again. I've learned that when the choice is shame-free and consensual, a beautiful relationship between a woman and her IUD can exist."