Thursday, March 08, 2012

Contraception: A Possible Win-Win Strategy for Republicans?

Happy Women's Day 2012!

"Change your perspective: change your life."
...And in this case maybe someone else's too.
Copyrighted Photo, 2011.  All Rights Reserved: Isabelle Black Smith.

Perhaps, in honor of International Women's Day you will take a few minutes to read the following and just for a moment consider another perspective?

As you can probably tell by now: this contraception issue is an extremely important issue to me. The issue hits close to home for me for many, many reasons. I can still vividly recall being a struggling college student having to pay full price for birth control pills (I did need pills for hormone regulation, but I was also married in college and trying to complete a degree in Electrical Engineering) because my HMO did not offer coverage for contraception at the time. As I was married, working my way through school to pay for my college, I did not qualify for the "FREE" birth control pills [ not that I wanted or expected anything for FREE ... affordable would have been nice though. $60.00 a month was hard to swing. Insurance coverage would have brought the cost down to around $10.00 - $15.00 ]. I also saw firsthand, in the workforce, after graduating the need to have some degree of control over my husband's and my ability to plan our family so that I could remain somewhat competitive with my male counterparts in the engineering profession. We now have three young daughters who will one day soon venture out into the world to fend for themselves. This issue will undeniably impact them on down the line.

And so, I have done much reflecting and writing on this issue over the last two plus weeks. I am trying to keep things in perspective and not do anything rash --like strangle my seemingly dispassionate husband ; ).  I am kind of feeling like a voter without a party right now. I haven't yet decided how I will ultimately vote, but my firm commitment to my original candidate of choice is no longer firm, as he seems to have gone back on his original stance from the beginning of his campaign and is now pandering to conservatives on the religious right. And my overall enthusiasm for the Republican Party and this election in general --hope for meaningful change with respect to our economy and jobs, etc.-- now seems to have been completely and utterly annihilated. The big picture just seems foggy to me now with this timely reminder that women still aren't truly equals with men ... even in our technologically advanced modern-day society... because we can still be controlled at the most base and fundamental level. Well that's how I feel today; we shall see if time and perspective do anything to improve my outlook.

I will concede that there are BIG issues facing our nation right now that require BIG solutions and focused attention. I would also allow that now is perhaps not the best time to pursue this contraception mandate or the underlying issues behind the need for this legislation, BUT women have already waited half a century --birth control became available to the public in the 1960's-- for the right to pursue their own "life, liberty and happiness" without undue hindrance. And in my humble opinion: not being able to have affordable access to contraception medication and services --which inclusion in standard healthcare insurance would undeniably provide-- is undue hindrance. We've waited patiently for our individual states to address the issue of passing legislation that would require inclusion of contraception medications and services as legitimate medical conditions under standard healthcare insurance and: our 50 states (see specifics below [1]), for the most part, have failed to adequately address the issue. How much longer do we have wait?!?

And Let me be clear (If I say this enough, maybe it will eventually begin to sink in):

Women do not want or expect any "special entitlement" at "taxpayer expense."[2]   We just want contraception medications and services to be recognized as legitimate medical condidtions for coverage under standard healthcare insurance. This recongnition, by means of legislation --as has been done for other medical conditions-- would then provide access to affordable healthcare insurance coverage for contraception medications and services (e.g., tubal ligation and vasectomy) which would then bring the costs to women --and their families-- back into an affordable/cost effective arena (e.g., $100.00 month birth control pills would now be $15.00 month with an insurance co-pay paid by the employee).

I don't see why everyone assumes that if you are "pro-woman", by supporting contraception as a legitimate medical condition for healthcare insurance, that you are in some way now no longer "pro-family." The two are not mutually exclusive.  If you empower women you get healthier, happier women who can then in turn be less stressed, more productive, happier wives, mothers and employees. How is that not pro-family? As I always say, "two sides there are to every truth." But I guess, perhaps some societal truths are so deeply embedded within our culture that people have stopped thinking things through for themselves?

===>We're not asking for the sun, moon and stars here people?! Women are just asking that contraception medicatons and services finally --after half a century-- be included as standard in healthcare insurance. If you have a moral objection to contraception then by all means don't use it:  that is your choice and your constitutional right.  No one is forcing you to personally use contraception, but this moral objection to allowing for the coverage of contraception medication and services under standard healthcare insurance, across-the-board, is doing exactly the latter in reverse by imposing your personal beliefs on another ... and that is just plain wrong from both a constitutional as well as a spiritual perspective. Just as the government cannot require that religious institutions proper must provide access to contraception in their healthcare insurance ... individuals should not be able to apply to a "moral code" or "moral test" to challenge the legitimacy of certain medical conditions which they find morally offensive due to their own personal religious beliefs. That is why our Founding Fathers gave us the "Separation of Church and State" and it works BOTH ways. If we allow this "moral test" to stand now: what other challenges to medical conditions, based on this "moral test", will come next? Aids medications? <===

To me this is a golden opportunity for a Presidential candidate to step up to the plate and say:

"As coverage for contraception medications and services is a complex issue that needs further evaluation:  If I am elected President, I promise to assemble a commission of legislators to seriously investigate and assess all aspects of the feasibility and constitutionality of passing federal legislation to require inclusion of contraception medications and services as standard in healthcare insurance." [Bearing in mind, of course, that if a Republican is elected to the Office of President "Obama-care will be repealled ... consquently current hearings and findings would then become meaningless.  As contraception medications and services would no longer be mandated as standard in healthcare insurance --with the repeal of Obama-care-- new legislation would then be required to ensure this coverage.]

By doing the latter a candidate would: 1) take some of the "POWER" away from Democrats on this issue and stop feuling the incumbent's re-election campaign momentum; 2) regain support of Republican women who may have defected because of this issue, as well as extend an appeal to Independent and more moderate Democratic voters in the general election; 3) temporarily silence debate on the contraception issue; 4) thereby refocusing the campaign dialogue back onto to the bigger issues like the economy, jobs and a potentially nuclear Iran.

The ball is in your court presidential candidates; what will you do with it?  ... Might I suggest, dunk it and move on?

We'll see what the future holds, I guess .... Meantime, God Bless all women all around the globe this day. Let us be thankful for all that we are and all that we have been so blessed to accomplish for women in an effort to make this world a truly better place for everyone.  Since I;m not finding my words easily these days, here follows my closing wish from my 2011blog-post on the 100th Anniversary of International Women's Day.  If you are interested in knowing the history behind this day you might want to visit my link from last year and read at the very end of the post.

"My wish for all women is that they find true peace and happiness. That they find validation in a world that so often takes them for granted and underestimates them. That they rise above oppression in all of its many guises to be all that they are capable of being. That they see other women as allies, friends ... That they stand up for one another and support one another. That God will protect them from violence , especially our young daughters. That women feel worthy of love and find validation for their spirit in some form ... even if it is just the whisper of hope and love carried upon the mystic winds of the mysterious universe."     

~Isabelle Black Smith 2011

P.S. My oldest ... perhaps a future politician ... says to me this evening as we are discussing issues in our nation and around the world  "You can't change human nature.  There will always be another Kony ready to step in and fill the void.  You have to fight the battles you can win."  Out of the mouths of babes? Pretty deep for a middle school student, wouldn't you agree? Pretty deep and perhaps a bit sad that at such a young age she's already beginning to assess the battles that can be won.  ... And I always keep the children in my daily thoughts and prayers -- most especially the invisible ones.

[  [1] Why is there a need for government to intercede and mandate coverage for contraception in healthcare coverage in the first place? Because the 50 states, for their part, have for the most part failed to establish and protect contraception medications and services as a universally covered legitimate medical expense in the first place. We have had birth control medications available in the United States since the 1960's --that's half of an entire century!-- and only 28 states have any sort of laws requiring that contraception medications and services be included in healthcare insurance coverage. In those states that do have coverage: compliance with the law is optional for "religious institutions" and the like --even as "secondary employers"-- with no requirement for these employers to offer an alternative avenue for coverage options to their employees/students. And contrary to the current conservative argument: contraception medications and services do indeed address legitimate medical conditions, whether conservatives happen to personally agree with how these services may be used in some instances or not (i.e., enabling sexual promiscuity vs. regulating hormones for medical conditions like ovarian cysts or for family planning for married couples ... yes, pregnancy IS a medical condition) .

[2] "taxpayer dollars" ...the accepted argument being that the cost for covered services is passed along to the public in the form of higher health insurance premiums, where carrying of health insurance is mandated by the Federal Government --“individual mandate”-- in “Obama-care.” Although, technically speaking, it is not ‘taxpayer dollars’, but rather money taken directly out of the insurance purchaser’s pocket. I think that the words “taxpayer dollars” are more of an attention-grabber, used for the express purpose of fueling emotions which often precludes logical thought processes. Furthermore, no-one is asking for anything to be “FREE”; women merely want access to affordable contraception medications and services, which healthcare coverage would undeniably provide. And if we are talking from a purely "cost" perspective here, I would venture that insurance companies would find little difficulty in producing a veritable mountain of data to demonstrate that the costs for contraception medications and services --specifically tubal ligation, hysterectomy and vasectomy-- are considerably lower than the associated costs for: 1) care during pregnancy, 2) delivery of a baby and 3) a new dependent to be added a healthcare policy after the delivery.]

To read more of my thoughts and reflections on this issue please see the following posts:

"Contraception Mandate: Fear is not an effective choice ..."

"Where have all the good men gone?"

"Follow-up: where have all the good men gone?"

No comments: