My uterus is not their business. It is also out-of-business.

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I am a bit of a prepper. I keep emergency stores of water, shelf stable food, and toilet paper (think about it) on hand at all times. I have a go-bag. As an extremely independent human being, I require confidence that I can take care of myself no matter what kind of shit hits which fan. Maybe it’s born of fear and anxiety. Maybe I’m just a responsible type-A firstborn Capricorn rising. Maybe I’m just fucking smart.

I do not want children. Ever. It’s nobody’s business why. Because I am a person who doesn’t want children, living in a country that vilifies women who have abortions while also making them jump through logistical and financial hoops to get one, my version of taking care of myself in this regard is birth control. Also I have absolutely no desire to get an abortion. I prefer to prevent my own need for one.

For about ten minutes, my birth control was free, and I was confident that every month I could walk up to the counter at CVS and fill my prescription, as I had for the previous 15 years. Then Justice Kennedy resigned, and I booked an appointment to get an IUD the next day. Suddenly relying on outside sources for my birth control seemed risky.

My IUD is the birth control device that lives inside my uterus and prevents pregnancy for five years. In the summer of 2023, I’ll need to have it replaced. I certainly hope I can. If during these five years I change my mind (I won’t) and decide that I want children, I can have my IUD removed by a medical professional (it was also put there by one) and my uterus will be back in business again. There are lots of birth control options out there, but I have chosen this one because it is literally impossible for lawmakers to touch. It makes me feel confident that I am taking care of myself and my own desire to remain child-free, no matter what.

Watch the news and tweet and surmise about what’s happening all you want. They’re coming for Roe. That’s it. This orchestrated ballet has a purpose, and it’s happening now because it can. There’s a reason why those in power have always chosen to fight for embryos before lifting a finger for living schoolchildren in the line of fire. This is about power feeling fear.

Those in power will always fear losing power. The world is evolving to distribute power to more than just one type of white male straight person. We are living in the Republican Party’s panic attack. They want to keep their guns and control their women and let their police kill black people, then they’ll feel safe and comfortable again. I have to type that out loud while I still can. Because if you think abortion rights are all they want to take from a woman like me, wake up.

The solution to the vilification and impending criminalization of women who have to or want to end their pregnancies is not each one of us individually getting IUDs. The solution is safe and legal access to women’s healthcare including abortions, everywhere and always. But if you’re scared, know that I was, too. It’s okay if you want to get an IUD because it’s birth control they can’t touch for five years. If you’ve made calls and spoken publicly and protested and fought with your families and still woke up today, yesterday, and the day before to things only getting worse, to a feeling of constant helplessness and frustration, it’s okay to do something tangible, right now, to feel better. Get one, take some ibuprofen, then keep fighting. We have to.

Getting an IUD hurts. I won’t lie to you. I wish I had known more truth about the procedure itself and also the first few months post-insertion. I didn’t do enough research. I knew “tons” of women with IUDs and not one of them had ever grabbed me by the shoulders and said “this shit hurts.” Also honestly I just didn’t care, I assumed having an actual baby would be, like…worse.

I’m telling you now: insertion is brief, but painful. The first few months of having an IUD, you’re probably gonna cramp like hell. My cramps interrupted my flow of speech. Your period is gonna remind you of being a teenager for awhile. That’s really the gist of what sucks about IUDs barring any complications—which exist but I haven’t experienced any. Yes there are things that hurt more than an IUD. Yes there are things that hurt less. However it’s okay and necessary to talk about what getting an IUD feels like to help dispel fear and confusion around them. I am a proponent of women retaining the freedom to decide what goes on in their own uteruses via IUD. I am happy to talk to anyone considering an IUD as their birth control option. I don’t know if we’ll always have this option. But for now we do, and it’s the one that works for me.

It’s been ten months with my IUD, and I wish our country was making me feel like an idiot for ever being scared and getting one. It’s not. I’m still scared. I’m scared of what they’re coming for. But more than that I’m scared of why. And if a device the size of a quarter means I’ll be a little less scared, and able to use the space that fear once occupied to tell other women about IUDs, then I’m thrilled to have it. It’s going to buy me five years of freedom over my own body. And while they can do a lot to whittle away at my freedom in five years, I can do a lot to fight for it, too.

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NPR once called me a humor essayist, let’s go with that. Host of A Single Serving Podcast. shanisilver[at]gmail

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