After the last issue of the “Echo,” which featured an article that took an opposing viewpoint to the government providing contraceptives for women, I got to hear a lot of different opinions on the idea. It was a great example of how the perspectives we write can incite conversation, and it made the thought of writing this article that much more appealing. I’ve had a strong opinion on the topic of contraceptives since I was just a baby liberal staying up too late in high school to watch the debates over the Affordable Care Act on CSPAN.
As a woman who thinks about “women’s issues” pretty much every day, I don’t have a problem in writing, without hesitation, that access to contraceptives is a basic human right. It’s an opinion that’s led me to donating part of the money I get for my birthday every year to Planned Parenthood, because I see in them as the crux of this battle. Planned Parenthood is an organization whose goal is to keep basic sexual and reproductive health care accessible to anyone who needs it. They are also an organization that is being constantly attacked by politicians and organizations because somewhere around 3-5 percent of its services dealt with abortion. These are same politicians and organizations that call themselves pro-life but can’t seem to bring themselves to care about families after a pregnancy is involved.
If a woman can’t afford to have a child and applies to receive welfare after she does, she suffers under the stereotype of the greedy welfare abuser. If a woman feels that she should be afforded a basic health care need, then she’s subject to people saying she’s dependent on the government and should “keep her legs closed,” arguments that I can always feel drawing closer and closer to Rush Limbaugh calling a college student advocating for contraceptive rights a slut. Women are being granted access to contraceptives because it’s a necessity, not because they think the government should pay for them to have sex. For one thing, contraceptives like the birth control pill are used to treat plenty of additional legitimate medical issues like migraines, cramps and menstruation regulation.
Only 42 percent of women on the pill use it exclusively as pregnancy prevention. For another, women pay 68 percent more than men when it comes to contraceptives, because men have had access to free birth control for years at health clinics like…take a guess…Planned Parenthood. What exactly is the difference between walking into a clinic and getting a free condom and doing the same thing for a birth control prescription? Because the only thing I can see is that it shows our society pushing all of the responsibility for both safe sex and pregnancy prevention on women and then blaming them when they need help to live up to it. Destiny White, president of the Maryville College Democrats, summed it up for me when she said that she believes women deserve access to contraceptives “because we are citizens of this country.” These are not special rights that we’re looking for. Women just want to be treated like they’re people who deserve the chance to take care of themselves.