I feel like I need to preface this by saying I live in Canada, not the US.
For those of us plugged into social media day-in and day-out, I’m sure you’ve heard of U.S. Republican Rush Limbaugh calling Sandra Fluke some very bad names after her statement to Congress regarding a woman’s right to contraceptives, specifically, that they should be covered by health insurance regardless of the institutions moral stance.
But what I didn’t see in many articles, was what Sandra actually SAID to deserve being labelled in such a way. Because I’m a firm believer in getting the facts before rushing to judgement, I went on a search. Since none of the articles I read actually mentioned what was said in her testimony, I do what I always do when I’m looking for answers – hello search engine!
I found her testimony, and after reading it, I’m even more appalled at the whole thing. She’s very articulate and clearly passionate about the issue, yet no where in her statement do I see anything about contraceptives being used as birth control, despite the rush to judgement from Rush. She calmly lays out her argument why contraceptive (or birth control, which ever you prefer) should be covered under normal health insurance policies, and the burden non-coverage places on a significant portion of the population. She discusses illnesses that are totally treatable, future pathology that is totally preventable, though the use of contraceptive, but that the coverage these woman so desperately need is being denied to them for the very reason she her character is now under attack – lack of education, lack of understanding. Rush doesn’t understand, and I would wager he doesn’t CARE to understand, that human biology is very complicated. And a woman’s reproductive biology is especially complicated, with a whole suite of problems that could arise in her reproductive organs. Many of which can be treated, and future health problems prevented, by the use of contraceptives.
For those of you that don’t know, contraceptives essentially take two forms – physically preventing sperm and egg from meeting, or hormonal treatment to alter what goes on inside a woman’s ovaries and uterus. The first is quite effective at preventing pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, but does nothing to help women suffering from ovarian cysts, painful periods, or other health issues that can affect those mysterious, inner lady-bits. That’s where the need for contraceptives, typically in the form of The Pill, comes in.
To further help you out, here’s some basic information on The Pill (I could add a bunch of links, but a simple internet search will tell you the same thing – plus, I’m lazy):
-Unlike condoms, you don’t just take a pill every time you have sex to prevent pregnancy (well, you could, but that’s called Plan B, and is something totally different)
-The Pill must be taken once a day, at the same time, every day for 21 days, with 7 days of either placebo or no pills. This is the routine if you have wild monkey sex three times a day for all 28 days, or if you are virgin high school girl who is taking it to prevent the excruciating pain associated with her menstrual cycle. That means that a celibate individual with an ovarian issue would need to take just as many pills (at the same cost) as the ‘Jezebel’ that Sandra is being accused of emulating.
-Other hormonal contraceptives are available, such as The Patch (think stop smoking patch, but releases female hormones instead of nicotine), The Shot (Depo-Provera) or IUDs (Intra-Uterine Devices – basically they stick a slow-release do-dad into your uterus so the hormones are delivered right there – lower hormone levels for those that are affected by such things), but they are just as expensive, if not more so, than The Pill.
So back to Sandra’s testimony, and the back-lash.
What bothers me – or rather, one of the things that bothers me – is that Rush and his name-calling is getting way more press than Sandra’s statement and the broader issue: that health care is health care, no matter if you’re male or female. To deny someone legitimate, proven treatment for their issue – especially in the so-called ‘developed world’ – simply because it can also be used for something the church* is against, denies them their basic human right.
Makes me wonder – is Viagra covered under health care plans without question, or does it matter what the institutions values are? I guess I’ll have to Google… maybe you should too.
*I’m using ‘church’ here in the context of ‘separation of church and state’