Many among us are fortunate to have someone to celebrate Valentine’s Day with.  As we do, let’s remember not only the power of love, but also the importance of a social structure that allows love—in all it’s unique forms—to flourish.  
 
For healthy love to thrive in our world, the communication that happens between intimate partners and families is essential.  My book, OOPS! Tales From A Sexpert, provides numerous windows into overcoming challenges of communicating about these issues.   Please remember, though, that that’s not all that is needed: society’s education and health care services are also essential.
 
My hope is that everyone who is fortunate enough to have experienced both love and access to supportive resources will join me this Valentine’s Day in renewing vows to work to protect the rights we have enjoyed for others.  Decades of hard work by countless individuals are currently being eroded at a rapid pace by the current administration, and we need to resist and remain vigilant. 
 
One thing we can do right now* is to take advantage of the comment period on the proposed changes to the HHS and USAID faith-based regulations, which would allow discrimination in the name of ‘faith.’  You can read more about it in the Federal Register’s Daily Journal of the US Government and follow links to comment here, or (more easily) you can use Planned Parenthood Action Fund’s link here.
 
Another thing we can do is to counter some of the destruction that has already taken place in terms of keeping contraception affordable by donating free birth control to individuals who can’t afford it.  Almost 20 million low-income Americans don’t have access to contraception, and the Power To Decide Contraceptive Access Fund is working to help them: “Through BCBenefits, we provide access to free or low-cost birth control methods and appointments (remote or in-person!) to people who have limited income and would like prescription birth control, so that they can decide if, when, and under what circumstances to get pregnant and have a child.” You can read more about it and donate here; $5.00 a month will provide birth control pills to one woman for a month.
 
In the U.S., some states are expanding services that support these issues but other states are cutting them, and the federal government is doing great harm.  For example, The Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) recently approved a waiver submitted by Texas that will severely limit women’s access to family planning services.  Texas already has over 1.7 million women in need of publicly funded family planning living in counties where they lack reasonable access to a clinic that offers the full range of birth control methods.  The CMS approved waiver will only result in more Texas women living in contraceptive deserts.  The concerns are both for the Texans that are without access to these critical services and also that other states will follow suit; the concerns are real and are supported by data.  You can read more about it, and follow links to learn about any state here.
 
Meanwhile, there’s a lot of important work to be done: please pass the chocolate!
 
With gratitude, I wish every one of you a Happy Valentine’s Day, 
Vivian

*Please note that the comment period ends on Feb. 18, 2020.

The views expressed above are solely those of the author and not those of Planned Parenthood.