About this birth control brouhaha

It’s easy to get upset over politicizing breast cancer – an issue that (albeit erroneously) has been regarded as an apolitical cause. And it’s easy to rest on the laurels of women’s health advocates’ successful campaign against Komen’s Planned Parenthood policy.

But there’s a bigger problem that all of us – regardless of political leanings – need to get behind right now. And that’s the issue of no-cost birth control.

Thanks to health care reform, certain preventative health care services, like flu shots and cholesterol screenings, are going to be made available to the public, for free. The idea is that the cost of providing these services at no-cost saves money in the long run, sure, but also that keeping oneself healthy is a basic human right. A right we should all have access to, regardless of how fancy of an insurance plan we have, where we work, or what our co-pays are.

Birth control is one of those services slated to be offered at no cost. And little wonder: 98% of women rely on it to plan the timing and spacing of their pregnancies (or whether to be pregnant at all). They rely on it to manage medical conditions like ovarian cysts. They rely on it to be whole and effective members of our society. It’s a necessary service (as essential as a breast health screening) that should be made available to all women who desire it.

But this very, very basic health care service is under attack. Republicans in Congress are trying (again!) to give this the axe, despite broad support for the measure.

So talk to your friends. Not just the super progressive ones, but also the ones who typically don’t get all choice-y. Talk to them about why it’s important, and remind them of what happened when we banded together to defend breast health care. Get them to care. With 98% of women using birth control at some point in their lives, there is no reason to politicize this. No good reason, at least.

But, to put a finer point on it, fighting for breast health, but not the ability to enjoy basic decision-making with regards to our reproductive health, isn’t just a hypocritical advocacy strategy. It’s a lopsided way of taking care of yourself.

UPDATE: The White House has just announced that no-cost birth control will offered from insurance companies directly, eliminating any concerns about the federal government potentially infringing on religious beliefs. It’s an admirable and smart compromise, but let’s be honest – those who oppose increased access to contraception aren’t going to give up the fight. We shouldn’t, either.

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About Gwen Emmons

Writer, activist, sleepless grad student.

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