Yep, you read the headline right. This is about as big as when the FDA approved Plan B – the morning after pill for over the counter use. Doggit – what will be the excuse be for unwanted and unplanned pregnancies now? Don’t worry, I will wait on your answer….
According to CNN, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced new guidelines in Washington Monday requiring health insurance plans beginning on or after August 1, 2012 to cover several women’s preventive services, including birth control and voluntary sterilization.
This should make you pause with sweet enjoyment if you fall into one of these categories:
- If you have ever complained about women who have too many ‘baby daddys’
- Your man is perfect, except for the fact that he has one ‘baby mama’ too many
- You don’t mind people using welfare as a gap resource as they try to better themselves, but hate when people abuse the system by having more children in order to increase their monthly “free check”
- You agree, co-pays are the devil.
Aside from politically and socially-conscious reasons, I am highly supportive of this policy change – for more personal reasons….of course. Sidebar: I am an activist – every activist has a story lol. Here’s mine…
I have a very good friend from high school whose story reminds me that life is about choices and I could easily have made different choices with different results. My friend, Tammy (her name was changed to protect her identity) use to be my ace – we hung out daily, talked about boys, used each other as alibis lol, and experienced some of the best years of our lives together. I admired that she had a mother that gave her freedoms – she could have male company and even go on dates (that was major back then – my mom was a tyrant). We had innocent and idealistic dreams of post-high school life; she wanted to be a nurse and I dreamed of becoming a news reporter (ha!). In our junior year, she met a guy who whoo-ed her panties straight off. Not surprisingly, she became pregnant soon thereafter and proudly made the decision to keep her child. As a side, I had many peers that had quiet abortions all so that their plans and dreams would not be “derailed” because of a decision made in the heat of the moment. Do I agree? Meh. No comment. Tammy had her baby, stayed with her partner and, because of these decisions, fell behind in school. By our senior year, Tammy was pregnant with child #2 and living with her boyfriend.
That year, Georgia passed a law that all seniors had to pass at least the math and science sections of the high school graduation test. Although Tammy kept up with her school work, she was never able to pass the math portion of the graduation test. (She kept missing the 500 score minimum but 5-10 points – where is the curve?). Fast forward more than 10 years, Tammy has 4 children and, sadly, never graduated from high school – despite the resources available to non-traditional students to move forward with their G.E.D. I have provided my input, of course, but have remained a position of non-judgment as I sit perched on my chair with two graduate degrees and a successful professional career. She is still the same friend that I loved in high school – we laugh at the silliest things, even now. The difference now is that we both made choices that set the course for the rest of our lives. What saddens me is that she has yet to realize her dream of becoming that nurse. She has always said, that she has to keep food on the table, which limits her free time and ability to make a change – she works at a low-paying, factory job in small town, GA, population 127. She even shared how her gynecologist strongly encouraged her to get her tubes tied after child #4 (*silent applause*). In reflection, I cannot say that Tammy’s life was much different than mine. She came from a supportive family and was a good student. But, she fell in love – young, stupid love – and let those feelings guide some of her decisions early on.
That doesn’t make me better than her – I experimented with sex as a teen; I could have easily gotten pregnant. We are all simply a product of our choices and the amazing favor that grace can provide. This realization should keep us all humble.
Birth control works, dammit.
Firstly, if you are a parent or guardian of a teen that is actively having sex (please do not be deceived), have those tough conversations. This abstinence-only sex education programming methodology refuses to acknowledge a simple fact: teens are having sex – all kinds. And there are a lot of misconceptions about what can and cannot happen as a result. Let’s do better and pay attention to our kids.
Secondly, for adults, the matter is different. I have no sympathy for people who get pregnant “unexpectedly” for sheer lack of planning and spontaneous passion. Condoms and birth control were made for such occurrences. Unwanted children are not the business. There are too many women struggling with fertility issues for the careless to lead reckless uterus-friendly lives. According to Planned Parenthood, despite the overall reduction in unwanted pregnancy during the last decades, American women still experience some three million unintended pregnancies each year – that is a whopping 49% of all pregnancies! And 42% of unintended pregnancies that do not end in miscarriage or stillbirth are terminated by induced abortion. Unintended pregnancy is associated with a number of negative public health outcomes, including:
- Delayed access to prenatal care;
- Increased likelihood of alcohol and tobacco use during pregnancy;
- Higher teen pregnancy rates;
- Low birth weight; and
- Child abuse and neglect.
This is not including the financial burden faced by local and state jurisdictions that offer mother/child healthcare assistance and supplements. We have got to do better. Sex is amazing, I know – but not so amazing that you forget about and then hold animosity towards the consequences. The birds and the bees are simple. You do the do, and the stork may very well bring that special package along in 9 months. Even more disturbing, cost is a major barrier against access to contraception. According to Planned Parenthood (yes, again – I love them ok?), even though birth control is basic to women’s health care, not all insurance plans cover the full range of contraceptive choices, and while funding for contraception for poor women is provided through Title X and Medicaid, funding has not kept up with demand.
The recent decision through healthcare reform to provide birth control with no co-pay is a huge milestone in the fight for women’s reproductive rights. This reduces a barrier that is common for many. In addition to this decision, the federal government also approved support for screenings for conditions such as gestational diabetes and the human papillomavirus (HPV), as well as breastfeeding support and counseling on sexually transmitted diseases.
By enabling women to control their fertility, access to contraception broadens their ability to make other choices about their lives, including those related to education and employment.
– Planned Parenthood, 2010
(Reaches over to call and check on my girl Tammy)