Contraception debate overlooks women

The national debate and child-like arguments regarding new policies this year continue to surprise me.

The one that bothers me the most concerns birth control being included in health care reform.

In January, the Obama Administration declared the addition to the health care reform law that contraceptives must be offered to women free of charge under most health insurance plans.

Many religious and conservative groups are up in arms calling this a threat to the nation’s religious freedom.

I am appalled at the lack of concern for women throughout this discussion. Yes, there are panels that are discussing the issue, but there is an overriding bias – the panels have primarily consisted of men.

This situation parallels the beginning of the Women’s Suffrage movement, which began as a fight for women to make their own choices when it came to reproduction.

During this time, men decided whether women were allowed birth control and eventually banned any type of reproduction information to go through the mail with the Comstock Act.

Today’s situation is with a religious justification, but otherwise it appears no different.
The argument gets a little comical when you realize that some religious institutions offer Viagra, the men’s erectile dysfunction drug, in their health insurance plans.

According to an article by National Public Radio (NPR), the Catholic Church argues that this is “neither hypocritical nor sexist” – they are simply encouraging procreation and these drugs can help.

Given they are curbing the amount of coverage so it is not abused, the argument still does not appear to line up.
The church seems to forget that birth control is not just a means of preventing pregnancy. Contraceptives also help reduce acne associated with a woman’s menstrual cycle and hormonal imbalances.

Even though acne is not always a reason for insurers to provide birth control, problems associated with periods are.

Heavy bleeding and irregularity among periods are common among women. These are not only annoying, but also potentially dangerous.

Heavy bleeding can cause anemia –- a condition where the body does not have enough healthy red blood cells and enough oxygen is not provided to the rest of the body.

Birth control pills also help women who are pre-menopausal by fixing the problems caused by hormonal changes.
Basically, contraceptives can fix anything abnormal with the reproductive system. It is a good short-term option to see if it will help fix some of a woman’s health problems.

The New York Times reminds us that “preventive health services” must be covered by health insurance according to the 2010 health care laws. This statute was issued in order to further explain this portion of the law. It is not saying that your views, religious or otherwise, will be infringed upon. If a woman does not want contraceptives, she will not be given them.

It is also worth noting that prior to the new rule to the health care reform law, 28 states had already enacted similar laws. As the New York Times states, “the new regulation is meant to remove cost as a barrier to birth control.”

My friends and I have very diverse outlooks and political standings, but we all agree on this subject. It clearly does not matter whether you are Republican, Democrat, conservative or liberal; the point is that all parties involved must consider the female population of the country and do what is in their best interest.