When Did Birth Control Become “Reproductive Health”? (And Who’s Stopping You From Getting It?)

A few months ago as the graphically disturbing The Handmaid’s Tale” rose to prominence, captivating female audiences across the country—I came across this piece:  “How ‘The Handmaid’s Tale‘ Became the Most Unintentionally Relevant Show Ever.”

The premise of the claim? That in the era of Donald Trump, a show about “anti-bigotry, racism, sexism, ignorance, deception and stupidity” was timely—amazingly so.

Full disclosure: I haven’t watched the show. I don’t feel the need to violate my mind with the gratuitous rape and violence these women are subjected to in this fictional cult world.

Full disclosure Part II: I don’t pretend to believe that Donald Trump—simply because he claims to share a few policy views that I hold—is a squeaky clean Bible-believing Christian who’s never said or done anything inappropriate, particularly about women.

But to sit here and make claim relevancy in the awfulness of The Handmaid’s Tale and the Trump presidency is beyond the pale. It’s almost as if they WISH that’s how it were.

And ever since the election, this mindset has festered and metastasized  into a belief that women in America, not unlike oppressed women in third world countries and despotic regimes or The Handmaid’s Tale,” are oppressed on all fronts—particularly sexually. ”

So when this headline caught my eye a few days back: “Our Bodies, Their Choice: The Trump administration just gave religious employers the right to control female workers’ reproductive health,” it didn’t shock me.

For the record, the piece analyzes the Trump administration’s rollback of the Obama administration’s contraception mandate, which “requires employer-sponsored health plans to cover various forms of birth control.” That’s right—a move by the president to ensure that companies with a religious objection to birth control don’t have to PAY for said birth control is “controlling female workers’ reproductive health.”

It’s seriously just about who pays for it.

Yet in reading that headline, one would think that employers are allowed to mandate their female employees’ sex lives, their gynecological visits, their personal cleansing habits, whether or not they choose to use birth control in any form, how many kids they have, etc.

Again, this simply means that someone who doesn’t believe in birth control shouldn’t have to pay for it.

Ladies, seriously, are we this dense?

Are we honestly going to sit here and let outlets like Slate feed us this dog and pony show equating payment for a non-essential drug to a fictional world in which going to work every morning involves a vaginal exam, and monitoring of all sexual activity  by our “misogynic” cavemen employers—a la The Handmaid’s Tale”?

I’m begging you to be logical and intellectually honest for a moment and consider a few things with me:

  1. It is your body, which means whether or not to have sex IS your So why should ANYONE, (including someone who doesn’t happen to have a moral objection to birth control), pay for a tool that allows you to participate in that activity without the potential biological ramifications (i.e. the resulting bundle of joy)?
  2. Does this kind of headline not insinuate that birth control is impossible to obtain except through employer-paid insurance that puts it in your eager hands for free? Don’t we know better than this? Last time I checked condoms are a couple of bucks (heck, some places are even giving them away) and if you’re so set on the drug form, outlets like Planned Parenthood are more than willing to “hook you up” with a pack—even one that “fits your budget.”
  3. How feminist is it, exactly, to expect these men (who run all companies, apparently) to pay for our stuff? After all, doesn’t that suggest that—save for the benevolence of our employers—we are incapable of getting these things on our own? For that matter, who’s holding a gun to your head and forcing you to work for a company that doesn’t offer a benefit that you so desperately require? And yes, I realize changing jobs isn’t like changing socks. But then again, that’s a choice. And no one is forcing you to stay where you are—just like no one is forcing you to have sex if you can’t prevent a pregnancy you don’t want or can’t afford. Pregnancy isn’t a cold you involuntarily catch. It’s the result of a CHOICE that YOU made.
  4. With the exception of certain medical conditions like migraines and incredibly painful periods (believe me, I know) that contraceptive drugs can help to regulate, where exactly is the medical necessity? To put this into perspective, we’re pitching a hissy fit because our relatively inexpensive pills might no longer be a free benefit at SOME places of employment—and yet what about people who need life-saving medications that aren’t free even with insurance? But yet the very thought of having to shell out a twenty every month for our birth control suddenly sends us into a tailspin over the horrors of oppression we face in this country?
  5. And here’s the big one: how is an elective medication that a woman does NOT need to survive or stay healthy “reproductive healthcare”? Let me explain: healthcare is exactly that: caring for your health. With the exceptions outlined in #4, there is no medical necessity for birth control. Preventing pregnancy is not a medical necessity (yes, I know for a very, very small percentage of women pregnancy is actually a health risk—but there again, that’s an exception, and not the rule); pregnancy is not a disease (though for me, at 7+ months pregnant it certainly feels like it sometimes!); and giving employers the choice as to whether or not to pay for those elective drugs is not regulating your “reproductive health.” No one’s dictating how you take care of yourself and your sexual organs. Period.

Ladies, we’re better than this. Think critically.

Mary Ramirez is a full-time writer, creator of www.afuturefree.com (a political commentary blog), and contributor to The Chris Salcedo Show Worldwide. She can be reached at: afuturefree@aol.com; or on Twitter: @AFutureFree

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