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My Pill, My Choice

February 10, 2012

The latest conservative controversy is the requirement that health insurance plans must provide no cost birth control to women, even those plans providing coverage to Catholic universities and hospitals.

I remember when the controversy was that health insurance plans that would cover a man’s Viagra but wouldn’t cover a woman’s birth control. People worked work to change these policies and point out that it is cheaper to provide women with birth control than to pay for prenatal care and the resulting dependent. Now most health insurance plans provide birth control to their payees. Whether or not it’s low cost is a completely different matter.

Several years ago, my pharmacy messed up my insurance coverage and wanted me to pay $80 for my pills. I remember being stunned, looking at the guy and saying “But it’s birth control. Basic birth control. Basic generic birth control.” As it turns out, they hadn’t applied my health insurance properly so they thought that my birth control wasn’t covered. One mistake by the pharmacy and I suddenly had a better understanding of just how much my birth control really cost. Basic generic low hormone birth control was $80 a pack.  Eighty.  Dollars.

For most companies, this policy changes very little. Instead of women having a $5 or $10 copay, now they have no copay. Make no mistake. This is not free birth control. These are women who pay for health insurance through their employer. It is not Joe Smith in Mississippi paying for Jane Sleeparound in California’s anti-knock up pills. It’s me and my employer paying money to my insurance company so that I don’t have to pay anything when I go pick up my pills.

I have no problem admitting that when I was single, I used birth control to keep me from getting pregnant. When I was in college, I learned that just because you think you are going to marry a guy, doesn’t mean that you will actually get down the aisle with him. 14 years later, I still take the pill every day. I may be married, but my husband and I have set a time line for when we are ready to start trying to have children. That’s our decision and not one my employer gets to make for us. If I had been hired at a Catholic university instead of a state one, it wouldn’t be any of my employer’s business when I choose to have children. If I were a Catholic, it still wouldn’t be any of my employers business.

It’s a great big scandal about absolutely nothing. No one is forcing Catholic women to take birth control. No one is forcing Catholic men to give their wives birth control. No one is asking employers to spike the coffee with birth control. It is still a choice between a woman and her doctor. Just the way it should be.

People used to accuse the pro-choice side of hyperbole when they claimed that someday the pro-birth side would come after birth control. Today we have candidates  for the office of president who openly admit that they don’t want women using birth control. The fact that they object on the grounds that they believe it is a kind of abortion goes to show that they only have a passing familiarity with basic science. Regardless of why these politicians believe that a woman shouldn’t use birth control, it is still not up to them to make that choice for other women. The catch phrase “My Body, my choice” doesn’t just apply to abortion. Planned Parenthood doesn’t just let a woman choose when not to have a baby. The pill is not just about not getting knocked up.

It is my body. And I will damn well choose when I want to grow a child in it.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Danielle permalink
    February 10, 2012 4:24 pm

    I have been taking birth control all of my adult life (and some of my adolescent life). At first I took it to not get pregnant. Now I have problems with cysts on my ovaries. They hurt like hell for days or even weeks every other month or so. When I asked my doctor if there was anything we could do, he said “Normally, I would prescribe birth control, but you are already on it.” While I certainly would like to not be on birth control in the future, part of me says that I don’t want to deal with even more painful or frequent cysts.

    It is now a drug with two purposes. I’m fairly certain that there are many other purposes that other women take birth control for that have nothing to do with family planning. Those women have every right to coverage for medicine no matter what their religion. Hell would be raised if someone told me that I couldn’t use my health insurance to have a surgery because their religious beliefs were such that people should not cut their bodies. Fuck no I won’t stand for people trying to say that letting other people use their medical coverage for something they don’t agree with is somehow okay.


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