By Gabie Bauman –
A firestorm has swept through the country, with an issue that concerns a little over half of the population.
Women’s reproductive health. From the challenge of the “Obamacare” health care overhaul, to the presidential candidates’ personal views, it’s hard to turn on the television lately without being bombarded by the issue. At the center of the issue is the clause of “Obamacare” that requires companies to cover birth control and preventative healthcare for women as a part of their health insurance policies, regardless of whether or not the company happens to be a religious institution.
Some have called it an infringement of religious rights, others a basic part of health care for women. Others simply look at their calenders in confusion, wondering when we traveled back in time to 1957.
According to Speaker of the House John Boehner, “This is about protecting Americans’ religious beliefs. We’ve done it for 220 years. It’s part of our Constitution and the government’s moving in a direction that would force some Americans to violate their religious beliefs. This is wrong and we want to stop it.”
But just prior to the vote on the Obamacare clause, House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif, said the Senate GOP’s attempt was “a blunt, sweeping overreach into women’s health” that is “disrespecting women’s health issues” by allowing employers to cut basic health services for women, such as contraception, mammograms, prenatal and cervical cancer screenings, and other preventive care.
But the question that seems to be thrown around the most is, is it a matter of entitlement or of women’s health rights?
A Penn Manor student laughed when asked the question, saying “Entitlement? In the sense that men think women feel entitled?”
Some Penn Manor students weighed in on their beliefs about birth control and abortion, “The only reason that people are having babies is because they’re having sex before they’re ready,” said a Penn Manor junior girl who wished to remain anonymous, “[if they have access to birth control] then more people will have sex before marriage.”
Others had a different opinion, “It makes sense for the companies to cover birth control,” said another Penn Manor student, “If they don’t cover birth control then employees will get pregnant and then the company will have to pay them to be on maternity leave.”
“I am pro-choice,” the student said.
When some girls were asked about the legality of abortion, their responses were immediate, “No. Abortion shouldn’t be legal. It’s a child, not a choice,” said the student, “You’re killing a human life, but people who’ve had an abortion will be forgiven by God.”
These reactions come on the heels of the controversy surrounding Virginia’s abortion bill — namely, if a woman would wish to have an abortion she would be required to submit to a transvaginal probe and subsequent ultrasound. The intention of the bill was to make sure that the woman really knows exactly what she is getting rid of, to put the emphasis on informed consent of a medical procedure.
The controversy revolves around the political aim of the bill — is it to have the fetus personified in an invasive probe or to give the woman more information before she makes her final choice.
A similar bill has been tabled in the Pennsylvania Legislature.
One Georgia Democrat, in retaliation for the bill, even submitted a satirical antivasectomy bill that required a probe of its own. Neither that bill nor the Virginia abortion legislature passed when it came to a vote.
Recently, Susan G. Komen for the Cure pulled its funding of Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions as part of its family planning, to much controversy.
But what about when using birth control isn’t about birth control?
When the Food and Drug Administration first approved the use of the birth control pill in 1957, it wasn’t actually for birth control at all, but for severe menstrual disorders and pain. Birth control has been shown to have many positive effects (and some negative side effects like weight gain) like the prevention of ovarian and endometrial cancer. According to the LA Times, it also is “used to treat ovarian cysts, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome, breakthrough bleeding and painful menstrual periods.”
Birth control can be used to help control severe menstrual symptoms, like debiliatating cramps.
That fact is not often brought up by the conservative opponents of the “Obamacare” legislation.
Like Rush Limbaugh.
Limbaugh, the ultraconservative radio talk host, made extremely offensive comments about Georgetown University law student Sandra Fluke for three straight days.
Fluke, who was invited by the Democrats to sit on the all-male Republican
committee discussing women’s reproductive rights and freedom of conscience, was barred from giving her testimony on the grounds that she was not experienced enough in the issue. She would have been the only woman on the committee.
Later on she would be invited by House Democrats to give her testimony, where she cited several cases of anecdotal evidence and statistical facts, including that during her three years as a law student she could spend as much as $3000 on birth control, and that she had a friend with a disorder that was regulated by birth control — a drug not covered by her Jesuit school’s health program.
Limbaugh used this as part of his talk program, “What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic], who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex, what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex. What does that make us? We’re the pimps. The johns? We would be the johns? No! We’re not the johns. Yeah, that’s right. Pimp’s not the right word. Okay, so she’s not a slut. She’s ’round heeled’. I take it back.”
Fluke was not quiet, did not just take it, “‘No woman deserves to be disrespected in this manner. This language is an attack on all women, and has been used throughout history to silence our voices,” she said in a press release. ‘The millions of American women who have and will continue to speak out in support of women’s health care and access to contraception prove that we will not be silenced.”
And now a recent study has found a connection between the use of birth control and wages for women. In an article for the Huffington Post, Martha Bailey, an affiliate at the University of Michigan Institute for Social Research who authored the study is quoted as saying, “As the pill provided younger women the expectation of greater control over childbearing, women invested more in their human capital and careers,” Bailey explained. “Most affected were women with some college, who benefited from these investments through remarkable wage gains over their lifetimes.”
The debate is the biggest one of the election even though America has a weak, recovering economy, huge debt, and soldiers overseas.
More from Gabie at: 4c3ofsp4des
Cover Image: A San Antonio rally in front of local Planned Parenthood. Image credit AP.