We have all heard the arguments recently and they are getting louder and louder. The most recent attempt at hamstringing women’s health care came at the hands of a horribly conceived and widely misconstrued bill known as the Blunt Bill. Even though it was narrowly defeated (51 for to 48 against), I think it is important to take a moment to talk about what this bill and other legislation like it would really do. In many ways it is amazing to even see birth control and contraception even being an issue. This argument was out in politics a quarter century ago. It not only seemed to be settled but we also have seen decades of benefit from birth control being widely available and accessible. As this proves our memories are short and our reason can be clouded. Let’s take a loot at a few of the main political arguments.
Contraception is Used For Much More Than Prevention of Conception
Different kinds of contraception are used for more than just birth control by millions of women. The Pill is used to alleviate a range of women’s medical conditions. To assume contraception is strictly used to stop conception would be to exclude nearly half of all women who use it.
Depending on what study you look at (or which side of the argument you are on), upwards of 15-20% of women taking contraception do so for purely non birth control related reasons. This number is impossible to narrow down since every study has minor variations in what and who meets their criteria. Regardless of this though, the fact remains that millions of American women use contraception for other reasons than birth control.
There is a reason contraception has been touted as one of the greatest inventions of the 20th century. Impacts go far past the simple impact of stopping conception. Attempting to legislate contraception from a standpoint of birth control misses the real crux of the issue and therefore misses the real consequences or benefits.
Stop Legislating Religion
Religious beliefs should not be put into legislation. In fact legislation based of belief or faith should be cleared completely off the table. In a time of technology, information and the ability to process huge amounts of information, we should be legislating from facts and data:
- It would cost an estimated 18 billion dollars a year in unintended births that would need to be covered by families, insurance companies, or the government.
- There is no quantifiable data whatsoever to suggest that having access to contraception turns women into mindless rampant fornicators. In fact, if this was the case, perhaps contraception would have to be covered by insurance companies just as Viagra is.
- If women can no longer afford to treat medical conditions prevented by this medicine, larger health care expenses would loom in these women’s futures.
- And what of the quality of life for unwanted children, especially those that end up with severe psychological damage because their parents cannot care for them. What is the cost of foster care for 18 years of a child’s life?
- Can we discount the responsibility of the great many Americans that know they cannot afford or otherwise give a child what is necessary and need to have a good childhood and family experience? What about the majority of Americans, who understand they can only afford one or two children. More children than they can afford means less opportunity for everyone in the family.
- Republicans should certainly understand that what this legislation entails is a corporation, contracting with another corporation (the insurance company), and having the ability to tell the second corporation how to run its business, while possibly interfering with state legislation requiring insurance companies to cover this prescription in the same way it covers other prescriptions.
And if you are just not the “show me the facts” kind of person and want to go from the gut, go with your belief. Pope Benedict XVI has told you what your belief should be by saying that healthcare is an “Inalienable Right” and said it’s the moral responsibility of all nations to guarantee access to health care for all of their citizens.” I doubt the Pope meant only those that can afford it, should get it.
When Advocating Freedom Don’t Legislate Against It
Another big side of this argument that continues to astound me is that the same groups that shout so loudly about freedom are the ones pushing so hard to eliminate freedoms for anyone that might have a different opinion.
Freedom : Noun ~ Ability to act freely – a state in which somebody is able to act and live as he or she chooses, without being subject to any undue restraints or restriction.
Freedom talks about an individual’s right to choose what is best for them, not the right of a corporation or religion to dictate what is best for that individual person.
This is why the government, corporations, and religious organizations should not interfere with the insurance companies they partner with in covering contraception. The individual person can make a choice based on their own beliefs, ideals, health conditions, lifestyle choices, or any other reason whether or not they will use contraception.
It is not the employer’s business what a person’s life is outside of their job. It’s not the church’s right to have intimate details on its employee’s health. Our health care system is such that the majority of Americans receive health insurance through their employers. Your employer should not determine what will be covered by a third party healthcare plan. It is up to the government to make sure we have access to the best health care and the personal freedom to choose what is best for us.