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Here I go, into the fray:


On my Facebook wall, an argument is taking place, largely among men, about whether the government should support the cost of birth control for women who can’t afford it. The most vociferous arguers say that “handouts” cause the “welfare mentality” and that we women ought not to be spoiled children who expect our government to pay for everything.

Listen, you naifs. I grew up before the age of the pill. Almost every advance made possible for women came as a result of both the pill and the Roe v. Wade decision. As a result of those two advances, both of which are in danger now, women became wage earners on a scale almost equal to men. We’re still fighting for that kind of equality, but everyone knows that in American it is very difficult to support a family with just one wage-earner, especially if there are children. Especially if you want to send them to college. Women have been welcomed into the work force because it costs about 10x to support a family now over what it cost in the 50s and 60s. I went to Cornell for $2500 a year. My daughter went to Cornell in 1989 for $25000 a year. And it’s more expensive now.

What’s more, the latest recession was deemed a “Mancession.” The jobs that went away were manufacturing and construction jobs, and the layoffs hit men especially hard.

Good thing women could still find jobs. And what if there were no birth control and they were having babies instead of trying to support their families while their husbands looked for work?

Birth control often makes the difference between developed and undeveloped nations. Do any of you really want America to go back to being an undeveloped nation?

Then be careful how you treat women, and what kind of policy to try to make on our behalf. Both abortion and birth control are useful tools that are part of an arsenal of choices necessary for survival in a developed country. You don’t have to use them in your own family, but they must remain viable choices for people who do want to use them. It’s not about baby killing or other slogans. It is about choice.

I, for one, do not expect government to pay for my birth control pills, and it did not. But I did expect government to pay for the birth control pills of my foster kids. Why? Because often their parents did not explain the facts of life to them adequately, and they had a terrible habit of getting pregnant at age 15. If it hadn’t been for Planned Parenthood, one of my foster kids would have wrecked her life by becoming a mother as an early teen. I took her for the “morning after” pill, and we both know I saved her future. She is now a proud mother who pays for her own birth control. That’s ten years later. Planned Parenthood gave her a decade to develop and get ready to be a mother.

And do I want to live in a welfare state? Of course not. But I do want government to take care of the young, the poor, and the sick. I think that’s a better use of my tax money than nation building across the world (where, by the way, I’ll bet we hand out birth control).

Women, where are you? Why aren’t you in the streets? We’re in danger AGAIN.
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22 comments
 
Well said Francine! The cost of NOT providing some sort of planned parenthood services or counseling is exponentially greater than the cost of government-sponsored birth control. Maybe someday when the warmongers are through tossing bombs and wasting money we can afford an uneducated, unemployed country, but is that really what we want?

Humbly, it's not just about women. Men need to join this battle too.
 
Excellent post Francine. Hadn't seen a lot of discusion on this topic on Google+, as it seems to be rather apolitical so far, at least as far as the people I'm following.
 
I find it absolutely insane that this is even a discussion. Those who think that it is our economic best interest to "save" money and create a better culture by limiting access to birth control haven't thought this approach out to its logical conclusion. The conclusion for this misguided public policy proposal is higher economic costs for society (tax deductions, schools, daycare, subsistence support ...). The economic argument to not provide birth control is really weak.
 
What poor women and girls lack the most are seeing options and believing hope. The few who have this, the few who realize that a baby at 15 is a terrible idea, need all the support they can get. What really irritates me is that pregnancy, birth control, and babies are still 'women's problems.'. If a girl gets pregnant, it's because she was 'doing something she shouldn't be doing.'. Whatever happened to the vague idea of a father's/man's responsibility that was starting to form in the 90's? 'it's not my problem, pay for it yourself' attitude is mostly coming from men.

It's not free birth control- although that's what's on the table - its access to reliable birth control. A $5 copy or even a $20 copy is manageable. But put the doctors far away, exclude them and this care from insurance plans, limit the places a woman can take a script - that's what we fight. It's not a dollar sign, it's a wall.

What's worse, this thinking segments women in many ways from being a whole person. It's saying a woman can only be 'successful' if she eschews relationships and her physical self, much the way women could only be bosses if they wore pantsuits and were 'ball-busters' in the 70s and 80s (as presented by media). Women who don't see themselves as celibate, angry powerhouses, think that management, leadership, and career advancement aren't right for them. It's like the glass ceiling of tenderness . . . It's been shown that is a person uses their emotions and personal relationship skills, they can be a very effective, sometimes more effective boss . . . We don't have to be - cant be - just breeders or workers. We are round human beings, just like men - multidimensional.

I don't understand how weak a man has to e to feel challenged by this idea.
 
The reactionary elements do not realize that they are pennywise and pound-foolish in denying contraception. And they don't care because 'its not my problem.'
 
What I don't understand is that so many women are against it too.
 
The oppressed often will voice agreement with oppression, because they can feel justified in not standing up for themselves.
 
If I may be allowed to wear my Beez L. Bub, esq. hat for a moment, I think that there is a weakness in this argument - the implication that women can't be expected to manage family size without access to birth control pills and/or abortion; which is tossed out, but never delved into.

Good thing women could still find jobs. And what if there were no birth control and they were having babies instead of trying to support their families while their husbands looked for work?

Babies don't just spontaneously generate in the absence of birth control. Sex is involved. And there are male contraceptives out there. Therefore, this statement seems to imply that women are expected to continuously engage in unprotected sex with their husbands, regardless of the consequences. While we are all aware of relationships like that, this statement implies that they are the norm, rather than dysfunctional. But, to be honest - I don't personally know of any couples that manage themselves in this way. And so it comes across as something of a disingenuous argument.

If we're going to operate under the assumption that men's sexual demands on their wives and complete lack of concern for the consequences of those demands operate in this way, that's fine. But, to be honest, saying that women need access to the pill and legalized abortion to deal with that puts them back into the role of passive victims, rather than empowered people, and perhaps ironically, frees men from having to think about the consequences of their actions.

Therefore, I think that you would have a stronger argument if you altered the phrasing of this so that "sex now - thought later" doesn't come across as one of the primary issues that birth control is attempting to deal with..
 
The thing I don't understand is that the economics appear so clear to me, and not to "limited government" people. It's more expensive to treat kids in an ER than to prevent them
 
+Aaron McLin The young men with whom my foster children had sex were not carrying condoms. They were thrilled to be "baby daddys," because they didn't have to do anything about it after they saw the child once.
 
Hormonal birth control put contraception agency in the hands of women. She no longer had to rely on men to decide if she wasn't going to have a baby.
 
+Francine Hardaway, I would still submit that predicating the need for access to birth control pills and abortion on the idea that there are irresponsible young men in the world isn't a strong general argument. It speaks to people who are already in favor, but I wouldn't expect that to sway anyone on the fence - let alone the other side.

+Caias Ward, I would say the same to you. Mainly because it still seems to operate under a premise that strikes most people as untrue in the First (and likely Second) world - that a women are routinely unable to refuse risky sex. I think that people would regard that as spot on in the Third world, where women are often regarded as little more than self-propelled sex toys. But I think you'd have a hard time convincing many people that the common model of marriage in the modern United States is that men prefer their women to be "barefoot and pregnant" as often as possible. Children are expensive.
 
+Aaron McLin are you a monk? Sex is something written into our DNA at such a fundamental level that 'not having sex' in a long term, committed relationship is not a valid argument. Men don't have to 'demand sex' for it to happen. Guess what, women have urges too, and are not just satisfying their partners.

So yes, it is a sex now, think later argument. That happens, so often that it is a nearly unavoidable fact. Biology is involved, and biology is strong. Thus, people, especially women, have long realized that effective birth control is one that doesn't have to be enacted at the moment of (non)procreation. It is a very realistic approach to the problem, which seems to have moral judgement against it right now.

In actual, long term use, the condom comes in at 15 babies per 100 women, per year. The pill is 8. The shot is 3 (every 3 months) and the IUD is under 1. http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Comparison_of_birth_control_methods. If it is in the best interest of the government, and women, and men too, then while say that reliance on a method that produces 15 babies is an adequate solution?
 
Margaret Sanger said that women were routinely told by their catholic priests that they should make their husbands 'sleep on the roof.'. Take a blanket, it's cold up there. Ok, problem solved, family size managed.

My two children are beautiful, and I love them very much. But the first was when we were using condoms, and the second, a diaphragm and jelly. The pill is not an option for me, medically. So now I have an IUD, and have not chosen to have any more children yet, if ever. If I didn't have access to a doctor who prescribed and placed the IUD, I would very likely have had more children. I would likely not have my Master's degree, I would not have the awesome career that I have.

But I guess I wouldn't have had to worry about all that if I'd had my husband sleep in the roof, though. And apparently that wouldn't bother me, because I'm a robot., and role that sex plays in a strong marriage is irrelevant.

Government subsidizes the flu vaccine, even though hand washing and Kleenex cuts transmission substantially. So why do they? Because statistically, those methods are going to fail often enough that it's a huge cost to the government, hospitals, and businesses. Just like babies. But sex is a moral issue, and women who risk accidental pregnancy should be held up as examples of shameful sluts, but people who didn't wash their hands enough and catch the flu are just unfortunately sick. The pill, and other longer forms of bc are baby vaccines. You can't say that the government having a vested interest in that health and productivity issue is substantially different than flu vaccines, except for the morality of women engaging in sex.
 
This is the problem with being the advocatus diaboli - it's easy for people to think that you actually hate the saint.

But no, +Jill Brady, I'm not a monk. Although perhaps I should receive an award for having the most self-control on the planet. :)

If you think that the argument should be - "Look, we need access to inexpensive hormonal birth control because considering the consequences before sex is simply too much to ask," then go right ahead. I have no problem with that argument. (But personally, I'm on the side of people who feel that doing away with the need for prescriptions for the pill, et al, would do away with most of this argument right there.) But I think that only people that it resonates with are people already on this side of the argument. On other words, it doesn't move the needle.

So, if I'm attempting to make an argument that might sway someone on the other side, I think that arguing that humans are slaves to their baser instincts isn't going to cut it. And insulting comments about people who think differently don't win you any followers either. (As an aside, no, I wasn't insulted by the "monk" comment, But yes, I think you intended to insult me.)

I think that an argument that takes the moral issue off the table is more effective. Because morality is an issue of faith, and you're not going to argue someone out of the faith position with some simple facts and figures.
 
Yes having a choice is vital. Making birth control accessible without a huge prescription process may be the answer. Everyone's religious sentiments are personal, but by removing choice out of the equation, USA may end up like calcutta without a mother theresa to help scoop up unwanted babies. And since lots of countries look up to USA for direction, we may actually throw the world back a few centuries into darkness again. Is this the grand plan?
 
And yes, it always seems to be the girls who get punished for being girls. Now they don't have a choice and don't have access to preventives.. And we are not even talking about rape victims yet. Its really a harsh situation, and would end up girls feeling trapped and hopeless. And yes it is gender bias of the worst kind..
 
No, not an insult, a little jab. There is a difference. And yes 'exercise self control before sex' in a committed long term relationship is unreasonable. It fails, in the long term, for most people. For one night stands, in between getting other methods in place - fine. But year after year? That's crazy. It's not a 'special event' it's a part of a relationship.

There are similar arguments regarding acceptance of homosexuality. There are people who argue that 'it's biological, they can't help it, let them be.'. And there are people who argue that that approach is not ok, because 'it should be ok because it is none of your business, not because it's biological.'

I will not change my argument to win a battle, because it's not the battle, it's the war - and using that tactic to win the battle will cost more in the long run, I think. Women are not to suffer lack of access to care because of any moral beliefs about their behavior by some religion. Women's behavior is not to be held to a different standard than men's. Women are equal to men, are to be treated the same, and the government needs to act according to individual liberty, and by-the-numbers public health. Anything else is opening the door for continued or increased limitations on women as full participants in this society, and I'll not go down that road.

If we talk faith and people of faith, I demand separation of church and state. I point out all the ways that government could mess up their practice of religion if they took a slightly different denomination, then if they just stayed out of it. This places religion and it's practice squarely in the hands of the practitioners, and gives them no right to enforce their views on non-believers.

Of course, usually if I even need to make that argument, it's falling on deaf ears already. But there are plenty who hear. Eventually, we will not suffer the few to control the many, on matters that are none of their business.


 
We certainly have equally valid economic, moral, and social arguments on the table in this thread. Unfortunately, in terms of setting current health care policy, I’m as concerned in regards to the Obama administration’s democratic accommodation as I am the initial Republican Blunt Amendment. I do believe this is one to be watched.

Policy is intended to guide decisions on behalf of a common good (for all) not a social good (the largest benefit to the largest number). This contraception debate is not a matter of public distributive policy (spreading the cost of distributed goods, in this case contraception, amongst the US community via government spending). It is constituent policy in terms of health care law, requiring insurers (not third party religious or government funded entities) to provide coverage of birth control pills, essentially treating contraception on par with other prescription medications.

The economic implication of the requirement ties into insurance costs and, currently, the private sector. There is virtually no associated government spending in the establishment of the requirement. On the contrary, any policy which intrudes the accessibility of contraception carries significant economic implication upon implementation as noted by +Francine Hardaway +Dan Suhr +Aaron McLin +Caias Ward .

In terms of policy, the moral debate is quite roundabout. By mandating insurance companies to cover contraception costs, religious affiliated employers (that by law must offer insurance, a root to the Republican issue) are indirectly forced to offer contraception coverage. The Republicans argue this as an infringement of religious freedom. Of course, whether the costs are covered by insurance companies or not, contraception is still available and it is still a choice. Adding cost coverage is hardly adding infringement (or in any other manner an infringement). It is a weak argument.

The social argument is near bullet proof, to the points of +Jill Brady +Francine Hardaway and others. Choice is a social good. It benefits the majority by means of positive economic implication, protection of freedoms – including the freedom of religion, and promotes a progressive culture. These social benefits, well articulated by the contributors of this thread, are conclusive in support of the contraception fraction of the original proposed health plan law.

The Blunt Amendment was appropriately blocked. However the accommodation announced by the Obama administration to exempt religiously affiliated organizations is an appeasement that is hard to swallow. While it ensures insurance companies must still offer coverage to female employees directly without charging additional premiums (good) there is no safeguard on the privacy of the administration of direct access (bad). Unfortunately, I believe the accommodation just opened a new can of worms in an effort to help it pass legislature. An employer, even if religiously affiliated, should never be a gateway between healthcare decisions and coverage. They must only be administrators of group plans without any intrusion or knowledge of personal health care needs or the coverage provided.
 
+Jennifer Novia. Well said. It does need to be noted however, that insurance companies WANT their clients on bc, because in the end it's substantially cheaper for them than births. Thus, companies that don't want to provide bc aren't receiving reduced rates, they are simply blocking access to a service that health insurance companies want to provide. This may be less true for plans where drugs are on a different plan than doctors.

It makes this argument the denying companies are making just seem punitive, and that colors the issue, a lot. For instance, many companies choose not to cover mental health care, and that has never garnered this much attention. However, the denial isn't punitive, it's that mental health care is very expensive and adds significantly to the cost of the plan. The decisions made are unfortunate, but understandable.
 
Agreed +Jill Brady . Insurance companies have equal interest in the contraception debate. Shifting the dialogue to private sector spending between insurance company, employer, and insurer is the next layer of the onion.

As it currently stands, the segment of the health care law upholding the contraception requirement mandates insurance companies provide all FDA approved contraception methods without co-pays or deductibles. Some argue the mandate benefits brand name pharmaceuticals (with the substantiating point held in industry lobbyist support). Others argue the mandate will increase insurance premiums and group plan costs.

We may speculate contraception is less costly to insurance companies than obstetrics care or, in general terms, less likely to increase premiums than other new health care technologies and pharmaceuticals. However, a contraception mandate without cost containment nor deductible/co-pay allowance is new territory. Without forecast data, we have to acknowledge it is possible plan/premium costs could increase.* Here lies the Republican argument: forcing an employer to absorb (unconfirmed) increased, stable, or even reduced plan costs due to mandated contraception coverage is the equivalent of forcing employers to pay for contraception, a religious infringement.

Agreed +Jill Brady, employers have the ability to select plans (or develop self-insured plans) that limit or omit areas of coverage such as vision, mental health, and dental. And these decisions, to your point, are financial in nature not punitive.

The employers with clout raising concerns in the contraception debate are religious affiliates, mainly the Bishops of the Catholic Church. Like the Republican party, their argument is based on religious freedom not financial implication. It is a legitimate, but unsubstantiated, concern.

Health care providers have the ability to prescribe or implement birth control. Religious affiliated employers with group insurance plans have been providing access to these health care providers. In other words, they were already paying for and trusting their employees with choice. Adding the coverage of contraception to the coverage of access to contraception is not a huge swing toward the infringement of religious freedoms. This is where I agree it is punitive – using the subtle difference between access and issuance to deter the progress of reform.


* The proposed health plan law is expected to lower health insurance premiums for the same insurance plan by up to 3% for large businesses (more for small) with potential savings of $2,000 per person.
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