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.