The birth control "controversy"

I was put on birth control at the age of 16 for medical reasons.  It was a 3 month treatment for what was basically out of control hormones.  I was in high school, and much to my horror my period would show up every other week, or not at all, or come and stay for a month.  My mom took me to a female OB/GYN, and this was her prescription.  I am sure my mother was a little nervous when her gorgeous teen age daughter was given birth control.  But, it was a medical treatment, I needed it, and it worked.  After a three month treatment and for at least a year after my period was "normal".  I was a virgin when the treatment started, and I was still a virgin after it.  Fear of getting pregnant is not the only deterrent to having sex, no matter what the religious right tells you.

That was over 20 years ago, and at the time only my close friends knew I was on the pill because back then people would label me a slut if they knew I was on the pill.  "I heard she was on the pill." enough said.  Last week Rush Limbaugh called a 30 year old law student a slut and a prostitute for being an advocate for contraception coverage being free of charge in health insurance.  I guess not that much has changed.  Yes, he apologized, but he might as well has said "I am sorry calling you a whore is costing me advertisers."

Rush is just a political commentator and in my opinion an idiot who has been married four times and is a recovering prescription drug addict and so has no business sticking his nose in so called moral issues.  However, a republican member of the senate called people who want free contraception in their health care irresponsible, saying they wanted to have sex without consequences.  When did using birth control become the irresponsible choice?  I thought planning ahead was supposed to be responsible. Another Senator submitted a bill to allow any company to be excused from providing contraception free of charge in their health insurance coverage, like churches can, if it violates their religious conscience.  Fortunately the bill was tabled, I guess they realized women are allowed to vote now. There are so many things that bother me about this whole deal I find it hard to organize it into one blog, but I will try.

First, is the religious freedom argument.  I believe if you are a church or a non profit organization you should get a religious exemption.  If you are not, if you are profiting in any way from your university, hospital, or whatever, you should not.  Plain and simple.  You should not be claiming "religious freedom" on the health care issue then turn around and make profits off denying basic health care coverage, I am sorry.  Furthermore, several states already make hospitals and university provide contraception as part of their health insurance, and no one was crying religious freedom when they did it. And where does this leave vasectomies? Viagra? Or is the objection only towards women's health care?

When there is a law that applies to everyone in the state, or in the country, it applies to everyone, no exceptions.  You can argue it is not the place of the federal government to mandate health insurance and that is a valid point.  But why can't we be civil.  If this law is so unacceptable you can A. Wait for the next president (since you are so sure it won't be Obama) to spearhead the repeal next year; B. get a majority in congress to repeal it; or C. wait and see if the supreme court to declares it unconstitutional.  You see, there is a system of government in place.  When you loose an election, you should work within the system to change what you do not like, not strike at it bit by bit, scapegoating women while you do it.  I guess under this religious freedom argument, Warren Jeffs should be free. You know, that fundamentalist Mormon who would have sex with 11 year old girls because it was part of his "religion".

Another thing that bothers me is the lack of logic in the "careless sex" argument.  Careless sex, is sex without protection, not sex on bcp.  It is like we are stuck in a time warp where women who are on the pill are considered swingers or something.  The primary reason for birth control is in fact, to control pregnancy.  However, many women have been on the pill for hormonal issues during their teenage years and later in life.  People take it for acne for crying out loud!  The reason birth control was included in the Health Care bill free of cost is not because Obama is a left wing liberal who wants to pay people to have sex.  It is because a panel of doctors concluded that it would reduce health care costs, which brings me to my next problem.

All I have heard in the last two years is how government spending is out of control, yet when a measure comes up that can reduce government spending, the same people who are screaming about spending too much are against it.  It is so painfully evident that the problem is not the spending, it is what the money is spent on, or who is spending it, rather. I believe that if President Obama came out and said he was reducing taxes to 5% for everyone, people would suddenly be for higher taxes.

When I talk to Michael about this issue he sort of agrees with me but he mostly humors me.  He has a libertarian streak and so he has problems with any mandate.  My guess is he views this as a "women issue" like most people do, which is why so many people don't care about it and why the right wing thinks it is fair game.  Health care for women is so misunderstood, seldom discussed, and not a high priority, so it is fair game politically.  Again, if men could get pregnant...you know the rest.  The fact of the matter is that the right seems to be choosing to alienate women, just like they chose to alienate Latinos, so as a Rican woman my disdain for them grows by the minute.  But this is not just a women's issue, it is a class issue.

If you are extremely poor you can get bcp free or at reduced cost through medicaid, or at Planned Parenthood and other organizations.  If you are rich, you can pay for it.  The problem is, yet again, those in the middle.  Single mothers, young professionals, graduate and professional students, etc.  I have pretty good health insurance and my birth control co pays are $240 a year, my insurance covers the rest.  I can't imagine what it would be without insurance.  Just last year, someone who shall remain nameless to protect her privacy told me she was using condoms to avoid getting pregnant because she did not have health insurance and she could not afford birth control pills.  I asked about government help, she said she couldn't take the time off work required to go through all the hoops to get it. I told her what everyone should know, it is a lot cheaper than raising a child and we all know many who got pregnant while using condoms. This is something the Obama administration knows.  They also know that the government already pays a good bit of money to subsidize or pay for the health care of the lower income people, so by giving the bcp for free they limit health care costs.

It also lowers abortion rates.  Here is a little fact I got off the internet: About half of all pregnancies in the United States each year—more than three million—are unintended. By age 45, more than half of all American women will have experienced an unintended pregnancy, and three in 10 will have had an abortion. I got this from this site http://www.guttmacher.org/pubs/fb_contraceptive_serv.html if you are interested.  It rings true to me.  So if you are against abortion on moral grounds, why would you not support free birth control? Making contraception easier to get reduces unintended pregnancy, it is a fact.  The religious agenda is nauseating. On The West Wing someone once accused the democrats of being for gun control not because of the guns, but because they didn't like the people who liked guns.  The same can be said here for the birth control issue.  The right isn't against this because of the issue per se, it's about the people who are for it. Those elitist, affirmative action supporting, abortion liking, immigrant loving, post graduate degree having, foreign language speaking, wine sipping, birth control taking and therefore premarital sex having liberals... one of which I proudly am.

Why aren't birth control pills over the counter yet?  You can buy condoms over the counter.  You can buy Sudafed, Tylenol, alcohol, cigarettes, guns...many  things more dangerous and potentially more harmful than birth control pills. This article in The Daily Beast http://www.thedailybeast.com/newsweek/2010/07/07/should-the-birth-control-pill-be-sold-without-a-prescription.html has a few theories.  It bothers me that in this country women are treated like they can't be trusted to make their own decisions on health care.  Until I read this article I never gave much thought to the fact that I had to get a pap smear to renew my birth control.  Until this whole issue with contraception and Obama care came up, I never knew how far from reality these people really are.

For those of you who do not think this issue is important, or it doesn't really apply to you, think again.  These things affect us all, our daughters, our sisters, friends, mothers.  I am 38 years old.  I have in my lifetime had people close to me go through unimaginable things like abuse, rape, abortions, things that we all rather not think about.  Women deserve better than to be under attack for choices that should not be debated, let alone judged, because they are so personal. For those who do not think elections matter, or those who are disappointed Obama has not done more: look at who he put on the Supreme Court.  Especially during this debate, I am grateful that the President I voted for put not one but two women on the highest court in the country (although I still believe Hilary Clinton would have been better).

On a lighter note, I started writing this on Sunday, and decided to go ahead and finish it when I saw Jon Stewart's take on it from last night's show. Enjoy:
http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/mon-march-5-2012/extremely-loud---incredibly-gross

Comments

  1. Excelente punto y 100% de acuerdo. Yo no sabia lo que habia pasado hasta que lo vi en Anderson Cooper. El solo hecho de pensar que este era un tema de discision en el 2012 me parecio ilogico y nauseabundo.

    Janice

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  2. The real problem here is that large group of people who quietly or actively agree with the likes of Rush, Rick and Fox News. They are not going to be changing their minds anytime soon and will prevent real progress from being made. And worst it's not just older people, there's a segment of youths who are going to continue this bias. I am scared to know the this percentage of people who actively marginalize the rights of others by supporting Rush, Newt, Palin, Rick, Sean and Bill (to name a few). Sadly, since I live in the south I am often reminded of this obtuse way of thinking.

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  3. Rush is Extremely Loud & Incredibly Gross!!!!!! Thanks Lisa for sharing the Daily Show link, I would have missed this otherwise! Everyone needs a little bit of Jon Stewart everyday:) Ah! I loved it!

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