Kyra Robinson | Staff Writer
Hampton University’s Planned Parenthood: Generation Action (PPGA) president Michyah Thomas was in New Orleans for a reproductive justice conference when the news broke that President Trump would roll back the birth control mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
She was among other women passionate about political change, mingling and enjoying good food when an official of the SisterSong Inc. conference delivered the news. Thomas said immediately, the mood in the room changed.
“Everyone in this room is here for a reason,” the sophomore Political Science major recalled what the official expressed, “You are here because you are going to fight back.”
Thomas got involved with Planned Parenthood in 2016 after falling ill, having to visit one of their facilities.
During that time, she was in so much pain she often could not go to class.
Later, she was invited to the Youth Organizing Summit where she met a national official for Planned Parenthood who sought HBCU representation and saw potential in Thomas to spread the message of the organization.
Now, Thomas works for Planned Parenthood and leads a Generation Action chapter on this campus. With the Virginia gubernatorial election approaching, Thomas is worried on how elected officials will play a role in Trump’s alteration of healthcare policy.
On Oct. 6, national news networks reported that the Trump administration had altered the mandate requiring contraceptives to be covered. This new policy allows employers, nonprofit organizations, schools and universities to decide whether or not they want to cover contraceptives based on religious or moral grounds. The Obama administration projected that more than 55 million women had access to contraception without copayments with this mandate. However, this policy will not affect a majority of women in the United States according to the Health and Human Services Department.
While some universities might face conflict with this policy change, Hampton University’s current student health insurance plan covers contraceptives. Director of the Hampton University health center, Dr. Karen T. Williams considers birth control to be “beneficial medication and recognizes the multiple functions of it including: managing acne, endometriosis, a chronic disorder when tissue grows outside the uterus, and regulating menstrual cycles.”
Thomas became very familiar with the importance of birth control while she was ill. While she does not believe that most institutions will outright deny women contraceptive care, she worries that the decision could set a precedent for people to stop providing a wide-range of services on the basis of religion.
Since being politically involved since the age of 12, she stressed communicating grievances with elected officials. When asked about how to combat legislation that one found displeasing, Thomas said, “It goes beyond electing figures who show concern during their campaign.”
“The most important thing is to make noise after the fact. The conversation does not stop on election day. It’s important to use your voice because everyone has more power than they recognize,” said Thomas.