Exciting News (If It Happens...)
The birth control revolution continues if Congress has anything to say about it. We are talking about FREE contraception for women in the US, due to the new health care law.
A panel of experts that will advise the government on what is considered preventative care for women meets this November. They will be discussing what kinds of care should be given to women at no extra cost, as required under President Obama’s healthcare initiative.
Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md., auther of the women’s health amendment, says the clear intent was to include family planning.
The fact that we are actually talking about this is very exciting. Women have been ignored on this issue for decades and it is ridiculous. Why is Viagra covered under health insurance plans but The Pill (and other forms of contraceptives) are not? It is total hypocrisy and smacks of sexism. If we had the ability to truly decide when and if we have a family, then we would be fully autonomous beings. If the law dictates that women have the right to access free birth control, that is a huge leap forward for women’s rights and reproductive rights in the United States.
“There is clear and incontrovertible evidence that family planning saves llives and improves health,” states obstetrician-gynecologist Dr. David Grimes, an international family planning expert who teaches medicine at the University of North Carolina. “Contraception rivals immunization in dollars saved for every dollar invested. Spacing out children allows for optimal pregnancies and optimal child rearing. Contraception is a prototype of preventative medicine.”
However, not everyone agrees that birth control is a form of preventative medicine (even though it prevents pregnancy) and it should not be covered. I will give you a guess as to whom is blocking this bill. Starts with a C and ends with -hurch.
The U.S. Catholic bishops say pregnancy is a healthy condition, not an illness. The bishops oppose any requirement to cover contraceptives or sterilization as preventative care, as stated by the Department of Health and Human Services.
“We don’t consider it to be a health care, but a lifestyle choice,” states John Haas, president of the National Catholic Bioethics Center, a Philadelphia think tank whose work reflects church teachings. “We think there are other ways to avoid having children than by ingesting chemicals paid for by health insurance.”
I’m assuming he is referring to the “rhythm method” or “abstinence”. Abstinence isn’t realistic in all situations (as the Catholic church should know, considering the many sex scandals that have surrounded them over the years) and my gynecologist once asked me what people who use the rhythm method were called. I didn’t know and she laughed and said, “parents”. So, clearly, that isn’t the best choice to prevent pregnancy, either.
Jeanne Monahan, a health policy expert at the conservative Family Research Council, said her group would oppose any mandate that lacks a conscience exemption for moral and religious reasons. she said there’s “great suspicion” that a major abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, is leading the push for free birth control.
Now, ever since the 1990s, many health insurance plans are covering birth control (but not all). Medicaid, the health care program for low-income people, also covers prescription contraceptives.
Wouldn’t this actually appeal to the religious right? Less unplanned pregnancies mean less abortions. I don’t understand why they are so opposed to such a logical and cost-effective solution.
Even with the access to contraceptives as is, half of all pregnancies are unplanned. Many occur among women who use contraception, but the government states that the problem isn’t the contraception, itself, but “inconsistent or incorrect use”, like forgetting the pill.
If we had free birth control, many advocates believe that it would address this problem.
“We can look at other countries where birth control is available for not cost, and what we see are lower pregnancy rates, lower abortion rates and lower teen pregnancy,” said Cecile Richards, president of Planned Parenthood.
By removing the cost barrier of having to pay for reliable or more expensive methods of birth control, more women would have access over when and if they have children. This would improve their quality of life, as well as their potential future families’.
Making birth control free and accessible is the only rational and sane thing to do. It would appease the religious right by reducing the amount of abortions performed in the U.S. and women would have more autonomy. Less children would be born into poverty, it would help with population control in the U.S., and we would all benefit from a better quality of life.
The only thing holding us back is the religious right, but to be perfectly blunt, I don’t see how they really factor in. This is a secular, health-related issue. If they can come to the table without speaking of religion in their argument against free and accessible birth control, maybe more people would take them seriously. But, stating that preventing pregnancy doesn’t fit under preventative medicine because of the use of birth control is just an ignorant statement.
Giving women the freedom to choose when and if they have a family puts the power back in their hands and away from religious institutions. Bottom line: A loss of power is what really scares the churches.