Eye On Modesto

Thoughts and observations about Modesto and Stanislaus County

Archive for the tag “Contraception”

It’s Still A Man’s World….Will It Ever Change?

By Gaetana Drake

President Obama will be speaking in Denver on August 8th.  Georgetown University Law School graduate Sandra Fluke will be introducing him.

You may remember Sandra Fluke from Rush Limbaugh’s characterization of her as a “slut and prostitute” and his desire for her to film her sexual encounters for him to watch.  All of this started when Ms. Fluke was denied the opportunity to speak before a congressional panel discussing birth control.  Remember, this was a five-person panel composed of only men (who refused to hear any testimony from women).  Ms. Fluke was able to speak at other forums and advocated for insurance coverage for birth control.  Keep in mind that most insurance plans voluntarily cover the little blue magic pill for men (Viagra), but until 8/1/12, when portions of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act went into effect, chose not to cover birth control.

Apparently, Mr. Limbaugh isn’t the only male who believes that sexually active women are sluts.  There have been many comments made on-line concerning Ms. Fluke’s appearance in Denver.  The vast majority of them refer to her in sexually explicit terms.  Terms you wouldn’t want someone to use when discussing your mother, sister or daughter.  I am always appalled at how many people believe a sexually active adult female is something to be denigrated.

It’s unfortunate that we don’t have comparable terms for men who are sexually active.  Instead, they get bragging rights for their conquests.  They get “high fives” and slaps on the back from their buddies.  They are considered normal, healthy men.  At the very worst, they are called a “player”.  That term hardly has a negative tone.  And all the while, the very women they are having sex with are called “whores and sluts”.

It’s unbelievable that in the year 2012, we are still having to fight for our right to use birth control.  It’s also unbelievable that we still consider sexually active adult women to be sluts.  Haven’t we evolved more than that?  Will women ever achieve true equality to men?

Here We Go Again – What Men Don’t Understand About Birth Control

By Gaetana Drake

Senator Ron Johnson (R-Wi) was recently discussing how low-income women can get birth control.  He was asked “what if I can’t afford birth control?”  His response was to “Google it”.  He explained that his wife recently Googled it and “bam, it was there!”  So, I tried it.  I went to Google and typed in “what if I can’t afford birth control”?  He was right in one respect.  BAM!  There were my solutions, right there on Google.  Four solutions from which to choose:

Option #1 – go to Planned Parenthood.  Wonderful idea, as Planned Parenthood’s mission is self-explanatory.  Planned Parenthood is so much better than unplanned parenthood.  And Planned Parenthood provides so many necessary services, along with affordable or free birth control.  But then I remembered!  The GOP is trying desperately to defund Planned Parenthood.  So, the first option just flew right out the window.

Option #2 – go to a doctor.  The initial visit may cost from $45 – $125 (in my opinion this is a very low estimate for costs).  Follow-up visits may run up to $60.  Then there’s the cost of the actual birth control.  Pills can run from $9 – $40, depending on what pill works best for the woman.  As a woman who has had experience with the pill, I know that pills have different effects on different women and there are many women who simply can’t tolerate the pill.  How about an IUD?  $1500 – $2000.  What part of “what if I can’t afford birth control” didn’t the good Senator Johnson understand?  But then, Senator Johnson and his family have the best health care in the world – at our expense. 

Option #3 – If your employer offers a choice of insurance plans, simply choose one that covers contraception.  Hmmmm….30 – 35 million Americans without health insurance and thousands of employers that don’t offer insurance coverage,  but just pick the plan that covers contraception.   Again, the good senator doesn’t seem to understand the problem.

Option #4 – ask your partner to contribute to the cost of contraception.  I agree with this completely!  Especially since options 1, 2 and 3 aren’t really valid in so many cases.  Unfortunately, even in 2012, there is a mindset among many men that birth control is just a “woman’s issue” and they don’t need to be involved in it.  And let’s not forget that most men don’t like condoms, and don’t want to use them.

So here we have a U.S. Senator (male) who has absolutely no realistic understanding of the costs of birth control and how that effects low-income women.   And we have Rush Limbaugh (male) who famously believed that you took a pill every time you wanted to have sex (I believe he was confusing birth control pills with his Viagra!)  I truly believe it’s time that men stop making comments about this issue unless they actually have something valid to contribute to the discussion.  When they make outrageous statements, like both of these men did, they just look silly.

Since 1960 when the pill was approved by the FDA, the graduation rates (from high school and college) for females have skyrocketed.  And the number of women in the workforce has tripled since then.  All of this is directly tied to being able to control when and how often we give birth.

Senator Johnson claims there is no one trying to deny women access to contraception.  He claims this is an issue of religious freedom.  As I’ve said before, no one is forcing any woman to use contraception, so I really don’t understand the “religious freedom” issue.

In the past I have thought that this GOP/male obsession about birth control was just something to distract us from the real issues – war, jobs, the economy.  But I’m beginning to believe there is a more sinister reason behind their plan.  The political and financial power of women has steadily increased since 1960.  They don’t like that.  They would like to change that.

We have the strength and determination of our great-grandmothers and grandmothers who fought for the right to vote.  We have the strength and determination of our mothers who fought for their rightful place in the workforce.

I think they’re afraid of us.  And they should be.  Because we won’t stop fighting.

The Benefit Of Being A Man

By Gaetana Drake

We’ve all heard much about whether or not insurances should cover contraception for women.  I’m sure we each have our own opinions.  Many people are opposed to federal funding for birth control and abortions for low-income women, saying they don’t want their tax dollars used for that purpose.   I understand that.  But did you realize that your tax dollars are paying for penile implants for men over 65?

There is a push to allow employers to deny coverage for contraception unless it is used for some other purpose, such as controlling menstrual cycles, preventing ovarian cysts,  controlling endometriosis.  These purposes have a health benefit. Some proposed bills would require that a woman provide her medical records to her employer in order to prove she is not using the pill for it’s real purpose – contraception. Many people believe birth control is mainly for “recreational purposes” and no employer should be required to cover it.  Mind you, they are talking about women who are paying for their private insurance and lawmakers would like to ban private insurance from being required to cover contraception.

Now we find that men over 65 can use their Medicare coverage (or their private insurance, if it covers them) for penile implants.  There is no health benefit to these implants.  They are purely for recreational purposes.  Not even for procreation.  Just recreational sex.  Why is it no one has a problem with insurances covering “recreational” items for men?  Insurances don’t cover breast implants (unless they are reconstructive surgery after a mastectomy).  Generally speaking, breast implants are for “recreational” purposes.   I wonder if a woman over the age of 65 can have Medicare pay for breast implants?

Personally, I object to my tax dollars being used for a 65 year old man to get a penile implant just for “recreational” purposes. I would much rather my tax dollars go to contraception for low income women, which benefits all of us in the long run.  I don’t see the benefit to society in general in an elderly man using my tax dollars for his penile implant.  Do you?

Why Won’t They Stand Up For Women?

By EOM Staff

House Republicans recently presented a watered down version of the Violence Against Women Act for approval.  Remember, this act was approved in 1994 for the purpose of providing criminal justice to female victims of violence (we are the majority of victims of violent crimes), and to provide education and better prepared responses to domestic violence.  It has been overwhelmingly approved each time it has come up for renewal.  That is, until this year.

Republicans didn’t like the expanded version of the act, which would have provided protection for LGBT victims, Native American victims, illegal immigrant victims and even mail order brides who become victims.  Apparently, these women don’t deserve any kind of justice or protection.

I wonder how many men have hurried through a dark parking lot, nervous and looking over their shoulder, trying to get to their car as quickly as possible.  Do many men check the back seats of their cars before getting in?  How many men quickly lock the doors as soon as they are in their car?  These are things that are habits for women.  I wonder how many men wait for an abusive wife to come home and beat them up?  Not many, I don’t suppose.  1 of 7 American women will be the victim of a rape or attempted rape during her life.  1 of 3 American women will be the victim of a violent attack during her life.  Can’t say the same for men.

If violence against women is ever going to be curtailed, we need the force of law to help us defend ourselves. Don’t these Republicans know that they are denying protection to their own wives, daughters, sisters and mothers?

Then there’s the matter of contraception.  While most women think it’s nobody’s business but theirs, there are many laws being passed that restrict birth control.  The most bizarre one is the proposal that would allow an employer to deny women contraception coverage even if the employer has no moral or religious objection to it.   These male politicians (83% of Congress is male), should not be deciding what is best for women.  Do they believe we are not intelligent enough to make our own decisions?  Do they think we have no moral compass?  We are adults, and we know better than men what it means to bear and raise children.  Women spend an average of 30 years of their lives trying to prevent pregnancy.  Consider the financial burden of that if your insurance doesn’t cover it.

Now we have politicians trying (and succeeding, I’m afraid) to limit access to safe and legal abortions.  Apparently, we need to be punished for making the difficult decision to end a pregnancy.  I can’t imagine anything more humiliating that a trans-vaginal ultrasound being required prior to undergoing a legal procedure.  Their mind-set seems to be “you have sinned, now we must humiliate you.”  As usual, it is the woman who has “sinned”, with no burden placed on the man who sinned with her.  Makes me wonder if Mr. Limbaugh would have us all wear a scarlet “S” (he thinks we’re sluts, you know) on our clothes.

And just a few days ago, the Republicans voted down the Fair Pay Act.  Men are supposedly better at math than women.  Why don’t they understand that getting paid .77 to every 1.00 they earn for the same work isn’t fair?  With this kind of wage gap, how can women support all the babies they’ll be having if these male politicians have their way? 

And the battle over President Obama’s health care plan is still to be resolved.  Maybe these politicians don’t realize that in some states it’s legal to charge a woman up to 80% more for insurance than a man.  Mind you, women in these states are paying more for insurance, while making less for the same work.  Doesn’t make sense, does it?  The responsibility for birth control falls to women 99% of the time.  Thirty years of birth control costs, while earning less for the same work. I guess having ovaries is a “pre-existing” condition that makes this practice acceptable.

A hundred plus years ago, men ruled over women.  They owned the property, we couldn’t.  They served on juries, we couldn’t.  They could vote, we couldn’t.  Women needed to be “guided” by a firm masculine hand.  Our mothers’ and grandmothers’ generations tolerated that.  This is a new generation of women.  The party is over, boys.  You’ve started a war.  If you want peace in your lives again, it’s time to draw up a truce.  One where women control their own lives, not you and not the politicians.

To quote from Madeleine Kunin, first and only female Governor of Vermont, “if you persist in fighting women on these fronts, it shouldn’t surprise you to learn that, especially in an election year, you end up looking and sounding stupid.”

Pay attention, guys.  More women than men voted in the 2008 presidential election.  And there will be even more this year.  Get your act together and start fighting for the rights of the women in your lives.  We won’t go back to the way it used to be.

Are Your Mothers, Wives, Sisters and Daughters all “Sluts and Prostitutes”?

By EOM Staff

According to Rush Limbaugh, Sandra Fluke is a “slut and a prostitute.”  Ms. Fluke is a University of Georgetown law student, who recently gave testimony about contraception.  Ms. Fluke was denied the opportunity to testify before the Congressional panel formed to discuss contraception, because it was deemed she was “unqualified.”  This determination was made, of course, by a man.  So, Ms. Fluke gave her testimony to an unofficial group of politicians, and Mr. Limbaugh jumped right into the fray.

Because Ms. Fluke thinks contraception is basic heath care for women, and feels that it should be covered by insurance, Mr. Limbaugh has declared that she is a “slut and a prostitute.”  He has also said that “she wants to be paid to have sex.”  I’m completely confused as to how he came to believe that.  He seems to think that she wants taxpayers to pay for contraception, when what she was requesting was that insurance cover contraception.  His next comment was that “if she wants us to pay for her birth control pills, we want something in return.  We want her to put the video of her having sex on the Internet so we can all enjoy it.”  Makes you wonder what kind of porn collection Mr. Limbaugh might have, doesn’t it?

And the great Mr. Limbaugh doesn’t have a clue how the pill works.  He has said for three days that Ms. Fluke and Georgetown coeds “are having SO MUCH SEX they can’t afford all their birth control pills.”  Here’s a biology lesson for you, Mr. Limbaugh – women on the pill take one pill each day of the month, whether they are going to have sex or not.  They don’t take one pill for each sexual experience.  If they are going to have sex fifty times in one day, they just take ONE PILL.  If they aren’t going to have sex that day, they still take a pill.

Now, some people don’t understand how expensive the pill is.  The average American woman spends 30 years trying to prevent pregnancy.  The pill is the most commonly used and most effective form of birth control.  Without insurance coverage, a woman would spend $67,000 over those 30 years, on birth control pills.  That’s a hugh expense that occurs month after month after month, when you are trying to feed and clothe your children, buy a home for them, or save for their college education.  Low-income women can go to Planned Parenthood for their birth control pills, but remember, the Republicans are trying to defund Plannd Parenthood.

Republicans are suggesting that insurance coverage should not include contraception.  Think about it….you pay a monthly premium for your medical insurance….your medical insurance coverage prescription drugs….birth control pills are prescription drugs.  What could possibly be wrong about expecting your insurance to cover your birth control?  After all, it is a basic health care need for women of reproductive age.  Insurances cover that little blue magic pill (Viagra) that men love so much.  See the lack of logic here?  Cover the pill that helps men function sexually, but don’t cover the pill that helps the women they have sex with prevent pregnancy.

Fortunately, Mr. Limbaugh is not in an elected position.  But it’s downright scary that men such as he are out there spouting their hatred of woman, and they don’t understand how the pill works.  By the way, Mr. Limbaugh recently married for the FOURTH time.  He is 59 years old.  His wife is half his age.  Which puts her right in the midst of her reproductive years.  Funny how Mr. Limbaugh is on his fourth marriage, but has no children.  Is he impotent?  Is he sterile?  Is that why he hates women so much?  Or have all of his wives been “SLUTS AND PROSTITUTES” who used birth control?

Unfortunately, Mitt Romney, who would like to be President, seems to have the same misunderstanding of how the pill works that Mr. Limbaugh has.  Mr. Romney has said that if he were President, he would sign an amendment to the Constitution of the United States, declaring a fertilized egg to be a person.  That would effectively eliminate hormonal birth control (IUDs and the pill) because they don’t prevent fertilization, they prevent the fertilized egg from implanting itself in the lining of the uterus.

At a recent speech, a young woman in the audience asked Mr. Romney if he believed a fertilized egg was a person.  He responded that he did.  She then asked why he was against birth control, and he said he wasn’t.  You can’t have it both ways, Mr. Romney.  Learn how birth control pills work before you go making executive decisions that affect approximately 62 MILLION AMERICAN WOMEN.  According to the Guttmacher Institute, that’s how many American women are in their reproductive years right now.

So, women of America…..do you feel like a slut and a prostitute because you have used contraception?  Mr. Limbaugh thinks you are.  And Mr. Romney, who would like to be your President, doesn’t have a clue how the pill works.  Scary, isn’t it?

GET OUT THE VOTE – OBAMA 2012!!!

Who Should Testify About Birth Control? Apparently Not Women!

By EOM Staff

Funny how birth control has become such a hot political issue lately.  We’ve had the pill for almost 60 years now.  Abortions have always existed, legal or not.  I just can’t help but think that if birth control were the responsibility of men we wouldn’t be having this discussion.

Now there is a five-member panel to hear testimony about birth control.  The five members are all male.  Not one woman to hear testimony about the need for birth control!  On top of that, these five men are deciding who is an “appropriate witness to give testimony” to them.  They are excluding women from telling their personal stories about the need for birth control.  On The Ed Show last night, there was a young college student who had been scheduled to give testimony to the contraception panel.  At the last minute, these men decided she was not an appropriate witness to give testimony.  So she went on the Ed Show and told the story of her friend, also a college student, who took birth control pills to prevent cysts from growing on her ovaries.  The pills cost her $100 a month.  Month after month after month.  The expense finally became too great to bear, as she was working her way through college and had tuition, room and board and books to pay for.  She stopped getting her pills.  A cyst grew in her ovary, ruptured and landed her in the hospital.  Now the ovary has been removed, but her medical condition has caused her to go into early menopause.  For some unfathomable reason, the male panel did not feel this was appropriate testimony!

Additionally, there is now one more reason to call Mitt Romney “Flipper”.  Prior to becoming governor of Massachusetts, his predecessor signed into law a mandate that insurance companies in Massachusetts provide birth control coverage.  Once Mr. Romney took office, he never attempted to repeal this law.  His only clash with lawmakers in Massachusetts was whether Catholic hospitals should be required to dispense emergency contraception to rape victims.

Now that he is running for President, he would actually like to ban hormonal birth control methods.  That would include IUDs and birth control pills.  He is up in arms over President Obama’s proposal that insurances companies provide birth control coverage, even though Obama’s proposal exempts churches.

Yes, many of the GOP contenders state that women can get their birth control from clinics instead of through their insurance.  But these same men would like to eliminate funding for places such as Planned Parenthood.  If that happens, where would women get their birth control?  The pill runs between $60 – $100 a month, IUD’s cost about $1800.  How could college students or low income women afford this?

The most appalling thing of all was the interview given by one of Rick Santorum’s biggest financial contributors last night.  He said, and I quote, “back in my day birth control was inexpensive and easy to use – the gals just held an aspirin between their knees!”  Obviously this man has no consideration for the plight of women of child-bearing age, gives no consideration to the pressure men put on women to have sex, and sees contraception as just a woman’s issue (the gals), even though we are about to lose the right to said contraception!  This man belongs back in the 1800s, not in 2012!

If women don’t get out in force in November, we will lose the right to birth control and the right to safe and legal abortions.  What will be next?  The right to own property, vote, hold down a job, have credit in our own name, serve on a jury, run for public office?  These are rights that women have won over the last 150 years.  All of these things were once illegal for women.  We can’t let that happen again.

Come on women – register to vote and get out in November!  Don’t let men control our lives once again!

The Personhood Proposition

By Eye on Modesto Staff

The voters of Mississippi have just voted down Proposition 26.  Proposition 26 declared “personhood” at the moment of fertilization.  The implications of this were far-reaching.

 Fertilization is when the sperm joins the egg. Conception is considered to be the moment the fertilized egg implants itself into the lining of the uterus.  This might not happen for up to a week after the egg is fertilized.  The concept of declaring personhood from the moment of fertilization would render IUD’s and most birth control pills illegal, as neither method prevents fertilization, but rather prevents the fertilized egg from implanting in the lining of the uterus. 

Conceivably, a doctor who prescribes birth control pills or a woman who takes them could be charged with a crime.  Another aspect of Proposition 26 is the treatment of ectopic pregnancies, which happen when the fertilized egg starts to develop in the fallopian tube instead of the uterus.  Such pregnancies must be aborted or the fallopian tube will rupture and may cause the death of the mother.  Prop 26 would prevent doctors from performing abortions on these women, condemning a number of them to death.  Prop 26 also banned abortions in the case of incest, rape or even to save the life of the mother. Some women develop medical conditions during pregnancy (extremely high blood pressure, pre-eclampsia, gestational diabetes) that may result in their death if the fetus is not aborted, but this law would tell those women that they must die.

 Doctors would not want to provide in vitro services as they could be charged with murder if they disposed of unused fertilized eggs, even though medicine defines pregnancy as the implantation of a fertilized egg, not the fertilization of the egg.  If Prop 26 passed, those fertilized eggs in a petri dish would be considered “people”.  A woman who suffered a miscarriage may have had to prove to law enforcement officials that she had done nothing to bring on the miscarriage.  This could certainly discourage women from receiving medical treatment at the first sign of a miscarriage.  Some people have concerns that a woman could be charged with a crime if she engages in activities where she might be injured and that injury could result in a miscarriage.  This could conceivably happen even if it was early in the pregnancy and the woman wasn’t aware that she was pregnant.

Some of the supporters of Prop 26 are Personhood Mississippi, Catholic Social and Community Services, Personhood USA, The American Life League and the Christian Medical and Dental Associations.  They are basing their support on their religious beliefs.  While they are certainly free to adhere to their religious beliefs, what they have attempted to do is to force every woman of child-bearing age inMississippito adhere to religious beliefs that they may not agree with.   Even some groups that are very pro-life have taken a step back from this proposition due to the extreme and possibly unforeseen consequences that would come about if it were to pass. 

Mississippi has only one abortion provider in the entire state, and already forces a woman to wait 24 hours after a doctor’s appointment and mandatory “counseling” before they can have an abortion, which causes increased financial hardship on low-income women.  They not only have to travel a good distance, they need a night in a hotel to meet the 24 hour waiting requirement. Mississippiis a very poor state, and has a poor record of helping its low-income families.  Proposition 26 would just make those low-income families even poorer, by removing most forms of birth control and subjecting those women to multiple pregnancies.

PersonhoodUSA is attempting to put similar initiatives on 2012 ballots inFlorida, Montana, Ohioand Oregon.  Voters in Colorado rejected similar proposals in 2008 and 2010.

Be reminded, this is not just an abortion issues although the first goal of these groups is to ban all abortions.  Their long-term goal is to ban all forms of birth control.  If these propositions pass in other states, it will be a step backward of 100 years for women’s rights.

Abortion should always be Safe, Legal and Rare.

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