Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Wanted children -- simple truths


While I applaud the work [organizations and individuals like this friend of mine] that share thoughtful and moving first-person stories about choosing abortion, I think there is another group that needs to speak up, loudly and publicly, about reproductive rights. And that is those of us that were able to fully and freely choose when to become parents.

I am one of those people, and so is my husband. We chose to become parents, but even more importantly, we chose when not to become parents. We chose not to become parents when he was in school and I was unemployed; we chose not to become parents when our relationship was unstable; we chose not to become parents when I was recovering from two surgeries in five months and he was changing jobs; we chose not to become parents when I switched careers. We chose not to become parents over and over for a very long time, even though during that long time we often talked how much we wanted a child.

The reproductive rights movement made it possible for us to not be parents before we were ready. Politics and policies that support contraception, comprehensive health care, and educational opportunities contributed to our ability to become as stable as possible in our own lives and our relationship before taking on the awesome responsibility of raising a child. ...

Sarah Erdreich

I encountered this shortly after reading one of Jonathan Cohn's Q.E.D. emails that explained, once again, why access to affordable birth control underlies the social arrangements we take for granted (and which patriarchal conservatives abhor.)

Many conservatives look at the price of oral contraceptives, available at places like Target or Walmart for as little as $9 a month, and wonder why anybody except the very poor would need help paying for it. But numerous studies have shown that even modest co-payments can reduce use of medications, particularly when you’re talking about less affluent people who must be careful with every dollar they spend.

... [During the 1960s] ... the teen pregnancy rate fell by about 25 percent. What changed? ... The Food and Drug Administration first approved the pill in 1960.

It wasn’t just teenagers on whom the introduction of cheap, highly effective medical contraception had profound effects. It was also older women, including married women, who gained the ability to control the timing of pregnancy and child rearing. It meant these women could have fewer children, if they wanted, and that they could time their child-bearing years in ways that would allow them still to go to school and to go to work.

It is not at all coincidental that, with the suddenly widespread use of birth control, women became much more likely to go through college and graduate school and to be part of the workforce—and, more generally, to make the kind of money that would allow them to be more economically independent

Control of our reproductive capacity is what makes the lives of contemporary women possible. Are we going to let obscurantist flat-earthers turn back the clock? As always, poor women are at risk first.
***
Kaiser Health News reports it is not only flat-earthers who want to cut women off from using birth control to choose when they have kids.

How much leeway do employers and insurers have in deciding whether they’ll cover contraceptives without charge and in determining which methods make the cut?

Not much, as it turns out, but that hasn’t stopped some from trying.

Kaiser Health News readers still write in regularly describing battles they’re waging to get the birth control coverage they’re entitled to.

In one of those messages recently, a woman said her insurer denied free coverage for the NuvaRing. This small plastic device, which is inserted into the vagina, works for three weeks at a time by releasing hormones similar to those used by birth control pills. She said her insurer told her she would be responsible for her contraceptive expenses unless she chooses an oral generic birth control pill. The NuvaRing costs between $15 and $80 a month, according to Planned Parenthood. ...

More at the link.

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