Affordable access to birth control is a solution, not a shame

10/11/2012

When Sandra Fluke, Georgetown Law School graduate and women’s activist, testified in February before House Democratic members that there should be a health insurance mandate to cover contraception, she was virtually skewered by conservatives, who said that others should not have to pay for her sex life (or any woman’s, for that matter). Radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh jumped on the bandwagon and took it to a whole different level, calling her a slut and a prostitute who was having so much sex she couldn’t afford her own birth control pills. Fortunately, Limbaugh’s rant was not received well by several of his advertisers, which later dumped him in light of his ridiculously callous comments.


Fluke’s plea to congressional members, however, continues to be a point of contention with many conservatives. Fox News pundit Bill O’Reilly (The O’Reilly Factor) brought it up again over the weekend during the pay-per-view debate The Rumble in the Air-Conditioned Auditorium: Bill O’Reilly vs. Jon Stewart (The Daily Show). During O’Reilly’s opening statement, he pulled out a placard that had a picture of a birth control pill packet with the words BUY YOUR OWN. He then stated: “I left two tickets for Sandra (Fluke) plus a month’s supply of birth control at will call. Is she here tonight? No. Sandra, buy your own.” Stewart’s rebuttal was simple enough: “Birth control is now covered the same way Viagra is covered.”


The real controversy is not Fluke’s plea for women’s contraception to be covered by health insurance for their apparently promiscuous lifestyles. The actual issue at hand is the substantial reduction of abortions as well as unintended and teen pregnancies that have been proven to result from free contraception, specifically long-acting reversible contraceptives such intrauterine devices and implants.


Jeffrey F. Peipert, M.D., Ph.D., professor and vice chair of clinical research in the Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, Mo., conducted a study called the Contraceptive CHOICE Project. From 2008 to 2010, nearly 10,000 women, ages 14-45, took part in the study and received free, long-acting, reversible contraceptives. When compared with regional and national data, researchers found that in 2008 these St. Louis women has an abortion rate that was roughly one-fourth the regional rate (4.4 versus 17.0 per 1,000 women), and one-fifth the national rate (4.4 versus 19.6 per 1,000 women). They also found that the teen birth rate among these women was lower than one-fifth the national average (6.3 versus 34.1 per 1,000 women). The numbers varied slightly in 2009 but still remained significantly lower than regional and national rates. The study population was 51 percent black, 35 percent had a high school education or less, 37 percent lived on public assistance, 39 percent had difficulty paying for basic expenses, and 63 percent had a prior unintended pregnancy.


In Ventura County, we have a problem. We rank higher in Hispanic teen birth rates in 2010 than the state’s average at 58.5 per 1,000 people compared to 45 per 1,000, according to data compiled by the Lucille Packard Foundation. (The county’s white teen birth rates are slightly lower than the state’s average at six per 1,000 compared to 10.9 per 1,000. Data for other ethnicities was not available.) The abortion rate at 11,147 abortions in Ventura County, according to the California Department of Health Care Services, ranked 38 out of 58 counties in 2010. (These statistics are for Medi-Cal abortions only, evidently the only figures California tracks.)


Conservatives who reiterate the mantra “Buy your own” seem to ignore a couple of very strong points, including preventing abortions and avoiding teens having children. The ability to avoid pregnancies protects individuals and the general public from the emotional and enormous financial burdens associated with unintended and teen births (estimated at around $11 billion for every 1 million unintended births) as well as abortions. It’s hard to believe that any true conservative would dare say: Buy your own!


By ignoring the situation or by ridiculing women for wanting birth control to be covered by insurance, we encourage the continuation of the epidemic of unwanted pregnancies and thereby continue to justify abortions. The evidence is slapping us in the face yet we seem to like shooting ourselves in the foot. As a society in need of responsible sexual intercourse and planned pregnancies, we must stand firm on what birth control provides. Tuning into reality will turn the tide of unintended teen births and abortions. 

DIGG | del.icio.us | REDDIT

Related Articles

Comments

Limbaugh style verbal assault is a frequent punishment of women speaking out. All that can be said for it is that it beats the other frequent deterrent, violence or threat of violence.

posted by cassandra2 on 10/14/12 @ 09:42 a.m.

The Christian right is neither.

posted by cassandra2 on 10/14/12 @ 09:43 a.m.

Judging by how many times I've witnessed grown men inside their cars (some even in company vehicles) gawking, whistling, and making cat calls directed towards Junior High and High School girls as they walk past in the cross walk, its apparent that girls of this age range are saught after sexually.

Nobody understands what its like to be the object of men's perverse fantasies more so than a Teenage Girl. I mean come on, "Teen" is its own genre in the porn industry, Rush Limbaugh can tell you that! Ask any woman what it was like growing thru puberty and they will tell you how nasty men of all ages could be. Teenage girls have so much pressure to have sex...

Its a no brainer, these girls need to be protected, they need to have a choice, and I'm glad that we have advocates like Sandra Fluke to voice their opinion!

posted by oxnard87 on 10/15/12 @ 09:37 a.m.

@oxnard87

Wow!! Reverse psychology. I wonder if that would really work. We make it so this junior high school girl can't get pregnant and these dirty old men won't want want to have sex with her. Is that it? If the girl doesn't have to worry about getting pregnant, she'll be less likely to have sex with dirty old men. Maybe that's how it works.

By this same reasoning, if every time an overweight person goes to a restaurant for dinner the restaurant has to give them a free desert, say a banana split, then they are protected from obesity, right?

These young girls do need protecting. But the way to protect them is by teaching them that what these men are doing is wrong and that they should report it. They don't need anyone making it easier for them to have sex, either with dirty old men or anyone else.

If, as a society, we are genuinely concerned about things such as unintended pregnancy, teen pregnancy, and the like, we need to start teaching things like preparedness and self control. In other words, we need to teach our young people, both men and women, about taking responsibility for them selves and to make the choice not to have sex until they are ready.

Finally, I would recommend that you do your homework. I did. Her claims to the democrat steering committee were nothing short of ridiculous. According to her, birth control can cost more than $1,000 a year. Really‽ A woman who doesn't have insurance can walk into a Target store or Walmart anywhere in th US and get a months supply of birth control pills for about $10. Condoms cost about $1 a piece. You do the math.

posted by flaggerflash on 10/26/12 @ 01:04 a.m.

Finally, with regard to Sandra Fluke, I would recommend that you do your homework. I did. Her claims to the democrat steering committee were nothing short of ridiculous. According to her, birth control can cost more than $1,000 a year. Really‽ A woman who doesn't have insurance can walk into a Target store or Walmart anywhere in th US and get a months supply of birth control pills for about $10. Condoms cost about $1 a piece. You do the math.

posted by flaggerflash on 10/26/12 @ 01:06 a.m.
Post A Comment

Requires free registration.

(Forgotten your password?")