Why all the fuss about a woman's pelvic health? The recent outrage against the Komen foundation was not about access to breast cancer screening- it was pairing preventative health care with reproductive freedom. Financial concerns about the cost versus benefit of providing preventative healthcare aside, surely not a single person would balk at providing a vaccine that could prevent breast cancer. Even if the relative risk of breast cancer is low, it is because the breast does not reside in the pelvis- and the relative health of breasts is not directly related to sexual congress. Pelvic health for women, however, most likely is.
The issue may be one of religious objection, but not for the reasons conservatives cite. It is still the oldest dilemma, right up there with the emergence of the oldest profession- the right of men to preserve their legal power and inheritance rights through marriage and childbirth within marriage. Almost all laws are ultimately founded in the time honored belief that a man (and by extension, his penis) has the inalienable right to not have to take responsibility for a child from a woman he is not married to. But why?
The primary issues of women's health from about age 12-40 are related to reproduction- menstruation, infection, fertility, pregnancy, and childbirth. Whether or not a woman has one partner or many, once sexual activity begins she is vulnerable to a host of infections- from "honeymoon cystitis" (urinary tract infections caused by sex), yeast infections (can be spread by men, not only a woman's issue), vaginal commensal bacterial infections (also spread by sex but not STDs), vaginal and urethral bacterial infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea and syphilis, trichomonas (parasite spread through sex) and vaginal viral infections such as herpes, warts, cancer from HPV infection, and, now, HIV.
Additionally, influences from genetics, diet and environment impact menstrual cycles causing such issues as migraine, anemia (from blood loss from heavy flows), mood disorders, fatigue, digestive problems, vomiting, nausea, diarrhea, low back pain and acne. Of course, there are the occasional worse problems such as blood clots and gall bladder disease, also related to the high estrogen that young women produce.
I am pretty sure that the concerns about providing health care related to health issues- and also work issues, as menstrual disorders and pregnancy do impact a woman's ability to perform on the job- is not the issue. If forcing every woman to take "the pill" would guarantee a pleasant, efficient and agreeable female workstaff it would likely be written into the worker employment contract. Thankfully, it doesn't, and the use of "the pill" is really ultimately a private decision between a woman and her doctor. It is certainly not the best choice for many, and is also not the only form of birth control there is. Contraception is not the only reason to use "the pill", either.
Personally, I think there is a deeper and uglier and more fundamentalist reason for this outcry: the death of patriarchy as the preferred power structure in the developed world. Patriarchy is just what the word says: power by the fathers. Land, money and social laws are all geared to favor and support the heterosexual married man. They allow him unequal dominion over those around him, and create a system to concentrate wealth and maintain it within his blood lines.
But the modern world has gone and mucked it all up. We have DNA paternity tests now, so that despite casting aspersions on a woman's character a man can actually still be proven to be a cad. Our laws for divorce and child support are still evolving, but men can no longer legally duck out of paying for a child they have fathered- even if they only "knew" the woman for five minutes. Because, you see, unwanted pregnancies can ONLY result from sex between men and women. They never result from spontaneous gestation, masturbation, sodomy or homosexual sex (three of these things have historically been illegal). History reveals to us a long, rich tapestry of tales and traditions about the lengths to which men go to both avoid detection as a father, and to prevent unlawful fertilization of his daughters' and wives' wombs. And when I say history, I mean, as of right now.
Patriarchy cannot work if only a few players on the team are married with children. The emergence of equal rights for non-men* (in some countries, that is also based on race, ethnicity, religious and property as well as penis ownership) has been devastating for the paternalistic plan. The only power structure remotely able to challenge patriarchy in terms of wealth and influence has been the very institution that promotes it: the Catholic church (insert other major world religion here). Whether one is catholic now is irrelevant, the history of Europe and the Western world (and many colonies) is written through the force of laws that extend back to the time when everyone was catholic- by choice, or not. The church loses its legitimacy without patriarchical power structures, and patriarchy has been losing a lot of steam.
Certainly, the issue of birth control in health care is not one of tubal ligation, vasectomy or even IUD placement in women who have already had children. Only recently have IUDs become more available to younger women, as the risk of PID (pelvic inflammatory disease) has been reduced and thus has a much lower chance of impacting fertility. All infections impact a woman's possibility of becoming pregnant and maintaining a pregnancy safely, and having a healthy child. An older woman, having had her children, will be often be prescribed a hysterectomy when her "pelvic issues" become bothersome enough.
So, what's all the fuss? Is it that there is no longer a steady supply of virgins, waiting to snare a man who has made his fortune and now wants to make some sons? Is it that there are too many women who may have had a pelvic infection (from sex with OTHER men)? Or is it that by controlling their fertility, women have found they are no longer dependent on men for the rights, liberties, freedoms and happiness that comes with being unmarried and childless? Is it that there are too many young men who are fathering children they will not provide for (relative to the cost on public health services)?
Remember, behind EVERY unplanned pregnancy is a penis. That penis could be attached to ANYONE, and that person may not be playing the patriarchy game. It divides society into men who are fathers and men who are cads. As there is only one kind of temporary contraception for men, condom use (though some vasectomies are reversed, that is not considered temporary), there is no way to control the legions of cads slipping through society and knocking boots with the modern, independent women- not all of whom are on the pill or Depo or having an IUD. There is no way for them to control potential fatherhood 100%, other than from vasectomy and abstinence. And no one has suggested that yet.
A man without property, prospects or respect for these laws is a dangerous thing. But, he is still a man- and entitled by nature to do manly things, with designated females- who are denied rights by law. Times have changed, and those rights have made property, marriage and divorce law very, very tricky (see Anna Nicole Smith trials for her late husband's estate). The state of the economy may or may not be in shambles, but the truth is that women are eschewing marriage in favor of having their own education and careers- and sometimes rejecting fathers for their children. Women are outpacing men in almost every area with respect to education and career growth. This requires time- and is done better by not having children until later. The men of the younger generation have less to offer when it comes to financial legal control, economic superiority and family security. Women no longer need to be married to own property. Birth control evens the playing field for women in a way that it cannot for men.
Religious objection over contraception is just the smoke and mirrors to disguise the deeper objection to the loss of patriarchal rule. Legislation being introduced that would demonize voluntary single parenthood hits closer to the truth. Health services paid for by insurance does neither come from the tax payer's pocket- or the employer's. They are earned by the employee, as part of a compensation package to provide reasonable health care at all stages of their life. Control over your own pelvic health is not only reasonable- but part of the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness. Turns out, women want that too.