Until recently, employers and insurance providers were required to cover all forms of birth control as preventive healthcare. But just a few weeks ago, the Trump administration took steps to immediately give my university or my parent's employer the power to decide my birth control coverage.
Chances are most college students who are on birth control today have never had to pay for their birth control because of the Affordable Care Act’s birth control benefit. But, depending on how students get their insurance, they could now lose their coverage.
I’m a non-binary person, and before I left for college I wanted a highly effective way to prevent pregnancy, because I was certain I did not want a child and wanted to focus on my studies. I chose a Mirena IUD, a long term, but expensive device, and because of the ACA I did not have to pay for it. I have been protected for 2 years and my IUD is good for three more years of highly effective birth control.
In fact, access to birth control is an issue that affects everyone, including trans and non-binary people.
The ACA means that birth control is covered. End of story. But many people think of birth control as a women’s issue, but it is not just women who were biologically born female who need access to birth control. This issue affects people of all genders, and we need to make sure that young people who do not look like how we imagine a woman or someone who needs birth control to look like STILL receive access to this service.
Birth control is about more than just preventing pregnancy. I have friends who are trans men who use birth control too. One has polycystic ovarian syndrome, and relies on birth control for his health, and another who chose to get an IUD to stop his periods and help with his gender dysphoria until he can get on testosterone.
All the reasons women use birth control are reasons why trans and non-binary people need birth control. And they need access to centers like Planned Parenthood that provide care to everyone, no matter their gender.
My first office was to Senator Moran’s office in late January. I heard about the visit through Johnson County MoveOn. Joco Moveon’s advice was to pick a subject you have a personal connection to, write a letter, read a letter to the staff, handover the letter to the staff. I generally have kept to that format because it helps me organize my thoughts.
Back in January I started thinking, what subject do I have a personal connection to? My father had died in the past year and before that he was ill and my mother was his primary caregiver. I saw how valuable Medicare is. I saw that it worked. I couldn’t imagine not having it at all or having to deal with a voucher system or other difficulties while you are dealing with a serious illness. So the gist of the letter was don’t take Medicare away from my mom!
So I write the letter, I practice reading it at home. The day of the office visit, I’m driving there; I have Hamilton cranked up in the minivan, getting psyched up. I arrive and there are a lot of people there. We cram into Sen. Moran’s office (some spilling out into the hall) and right next to me is a TV reporter and a big TV camera from one of the Lawrence stations.
At this point I have to say I am not a fan of public speaking. At all. However, I am determined. I had spent too long taking in information at home, stewing over it, grousing about it. So I am going to read that dang letter. I do get my chance and I read the letter. I feel good. I’ve done it, I’ve communicated with my senator.
After that, I can stop focusing on me and really start listening to others in the room. People telling their stories, giving information to their lawmaker on how the laws affect their lives or the lives of people they know. At every office visit I learn something from the people in the room.
I’d like to read a short letter I was able to slip into the hands of a very fast moving Kevin Yoder on his way into an interview with KCUR. It is very snazzily entitled, The People I’ve Met and Why You Should Meet Them, Too.
When a group walks through the doors of your office, we meet as a group, but we come as individuals. Some of those individuals are novices like me who feel it is time to take some responsibility and get involved. Others have been lending their voice, their knowledge to the democratic process for years.
There are Veterans, Military Spouses, Independents, Democrats, Republicans, Parents, Students, Doctors, Nurses, Social Workers, Engineers, Educators, Business People and more.
I’ve met people with incomes in the top 3% of Kansans and those whose lives are affected in a very fundamental way by changes in economic policies. Those with secure healthcare and those whose healthcare options are precarious. Those who bring statistics and those who bring valuable, often very touching, personal experiences.
I’ve met people who speak eloquently, loudly, quietly, passionately, nervously, boldly, and each of them want what you want: to make our community better.
Please come talk with them. Please attend a townhall soon.
Patricia “Peezy” Mullins
A lawyer in Kansas City was shot dead. Gun violence touched my community more closely than ever before.
We all live in a variety of communities. Some are very large and some much smaller. Personally, I am a citizen of the world and of the United States, two large communities. I live in the Kansas City metropolitan area, I work as a lawyer and my church is St. Peter’s Catholic Church, where both of my children attended primary school. Gun violence is wreaking havoc on our communities.
In 2016, there were 58,794 incidents involving guns. Of those incidents, 15,082 resulted in death and 30,618 resulted in injuries.* This is not universal. Other countries are not plagued by the gun violence in the United States. Americans are 10 times more likely to be killed by guns than citizens of other developed countries and U.S.A.’s murder rate is 25 times higher than other developed countries.
While Americans may be more violent than other individuals, the more likely culprit is America’s ridiculously lenient gun laws. Missouri is very close to the top of the list for gun laws that do nothing to prevent anyone from owning a gun. In fact, Missouri’s legislature has recently and effectively undertaken efforts to weaken gun laws.
As of January 2017, in Missouri, it is no longer necessary to have a permit to own a gun or to carry a gun concealed on your person. It is not necessary to have a license to possess a rifle, shotgun or handgun. You need no training to obtain a gun. You need no license or permit to purchase a gun. Once you have purchased your gun, do not worry about registering it – no one needs to know you own a gun. You can also carry your concealed weapon, without a license or permit, and if you want to threaten or “warn” someone, you can display your gun “briefly” to let others know you are “carrying.”
I do not want this article to be a “how to” guide for anyone to get a gun, but suffice it to say, there are almost no limitations on the ability to own or possess a gun in Missouri. The lack of need for training or registering guns is particularly distressing, but also concerning is that Missouri has passed the “castle doctrine.” In other words, you can shoot “an invader” in your home or office without retreating or giving the intruder a warning.
Kansas gun laws are virtually identical.
Here’s the thing. Almost everyone who reads this blog agrees that the gun laws of Missouri are awful beyond reason. What each of us must do, therefore, is convince one “reasonable” conservative to at least considering gun laws before casting a vote. We must recognize, even when it seems incomprehensible, that many good people have decent reasons for voting Republican. We must attempt to make them see that the more lenient the gun laws, the more likely Las Vegas, Orlando, San Bernardino and even, Brookside, are to occur.