Imagine yourself after one night of unprotected sex. What would be your first reaction besides utter panic? You may be wondering where your birth control is or if she is even on the pill. Now, take the same situation and imagine that you did not have any birth control because you could not afford the co-pay. You now enter the risk of an unplanned pregnancy and your preparation is zero. Men, you are now a baby’s daddy and can choose to stick around or become a dead-beat dad. Ladies, you have options to keep, abort or put the baby up for adoption but the fact remains that your entire life will change no matter your decision.
Now some may claim that this all would have been avoided if you had kept your legs closed and pants zipped for business or what have you, but the fact is, that is not the only option to avoid such a situation. Abstinence may work for some people and even though Josh Hartnett managed it in 40 days and 40 nights, the value of virginity and sex differs among all people.
However, this is not about the complete values of sex and virginity but the importance of resources like birth control. Despite the historic illusion of women being reproductive machines, some carry this torch of procreation as the only justification when it comes to sex. When America declared independence, women were not citizens but had the sole duty of republican motherhood in which they breed and shaped future leaders for the republic. When women wanted educations because domesticity was not satisfying, women and men like Edward H. Clarke declared the harms of women getting higher degrees of education; often diagnosing women with hysteria and reproductive failure if they gained intellectual thought. That meant that if you got smarter, your ovaries would no longer work because education was like a hysterectomy for women. Now, abstinence only propaganda are thrown all around the media, schools, families and religious institutions that base purity and value on a woman’s hymen and whether it is broke. Battles continue to stalk the halls of congress and legislatures of abortion bans, birth control and the overall costs of money and morality. It apparently is natural for women to reproduce only but unnatural for a woman to make that choice herself.
Margaret Sanger believed women had a choice, working tirelessly for women to have options like birth control besdes the prophetic values of a gendered system, ruled by patriarchy. Sanger opened the first birth control clinic in 1916 and despite constant arrests and time spent in jail, she battled the Comstock Act and in 1938, the federal ban had lifted on birth control although some states still managed to keep birth control banned. In 1965, privacy was recognized in marriage when a couple wanted to use birth control in Griswold v. Connecticut. In 1972, Eisenstadt v Baird extended the right of contraception for unmarried couples. From this brief history, one can see how Sanger and many others thrived in making sure women had the resources available to them to keep unintended pregnancies from occurring at high rates. Today, Planned Parenthood is working to preserve that and the right of women to receive the care and options they need to make their own decisions.
One law that Planned Parenthood is fighting alongside is the Affordable Care Act, that is, the health care reform law that ensures people receive health insurance. Although many may cry “Socialist” and claim that millions will be lost and America will fall into debt, (been there, done that), there are some facts to underscore the need for affordable healthcare and preventative service. A woman that was forty-years old had to pay almost two to one-hundred and forty percent more than a forty-year old man of similar health did. Seventeen million women were uninsured, approximately one in five women. Three in five women had difficulty paying their medical bills and were more likely to avoid treatments and neglect health because they could not afford it. “Women could be denied coverage on the basis of pre-existing conditions such as domestic violence, infertility, pregnancy, having had a c-section, acne or an eating disorder.”* Yes, that totally makes sense to continue allowing restrictions that harm women to punish them and their wellbeing to “save money” and include a “socialist” law into our “pure” capitalist society. What is even more bothersome is that people will still claim that gender discrimination does not exist.
However, birth control matters and with the Affordable Care Act, policy needs to take a step further to ensure women receive the care they need. The Mikulski Women’s Health Amendment was developed to ensure that preventative services to women like cancer screenings be covered within the act. Although it passed, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) has the capability to define what services to be recognized as preventative care. We need birth control to be a part of that definition because in our minds, it is preventative care and a necessary service for women. Planned Parenthood developed a campaign that is working toward an effort that birth control makes the definition of women’s preventative healthcare and is available under no co-pays with the new insurance plans; ensuring that women not only choose what birth control method works best for them but to reduce the rates of unintended pregnancies as well. The average woman spends thirty years of pregnancies, which means thirty years of paying for birth control. More than one-third of women have struggled with the costs of birth control at some point in their lives, resulting in inconsistent use of birth control. The cost of birth control is a hindrance, especially when working in lower income jobs or unemployed because of the repercussions of the economic downfall. Women typically pay fifteen to fifty dollars a month for co-pays for birth control, a staggering amount between $180 and $600 a year. If a woman cannot afford this, part of her choice is gone because of the lack of money in her wallet.
Imagining yourself in one of those situations of facing an unintended pregnancy is not hard because some believe it will never happen to them. They may have the resources or know that their uterus is here for procreation only. No matter what one believes, we all have a choice. You and I have a choice to make sure that women can keep their choice by first realizing that birth control matters. Join Planned Parenthood in their campaign to ensure that the necessary resources of birth control are available to women at no cost. In the end, it can happen to you and all it takes is one moment, one pregnancy test to prove your theory wrong.
For more information, please visit the website www.birthcontrolmatters.org
*Information gathered from www.birthcontrolmatters.org and mikulski.senate.gov/