Tempers have been flaring and GOP candidates have been grandstanding over President Obama’s controversial healthcare bill for over two years.
More recently, the debate has sharpened over a specific part of healthcare reform: coverage of birth control.
Primary season tends to polarize our already bipartisan system to toxic levels.
Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich are rallying the deep-fried Southern U.S. with apocalyptic visions of the future of this country as it stumbles down a path of amorality right into the welcoming arms of socialism.
In Virginia, the state senate was forced to quickly revise the language of a bill that would require women seeking an abortion to have an ultrasound of the fetus before the procedure.
According to The Guttmacher Institute, a sexual and reproductive advocacy group, the bill was designed to make women “confront” the fact that were carrying a fetus, causing emotional duress that would affect the woman’s decision to have an abortion.
Moving from abortion to contraception, the recent Obama Administration mandate regarding contraceptive coverage from health insurance companies has ruffled the feathers of a number of groups.
The controversy stems from the fact that this mandate means religious institutions and affiliated groups that provide health insurance will be providing birth control that is antithetical to their moral stance on contraception.
In a patriarchal throwback from a 1950s board meeting, a Congressional hearing was held in mid-February, designed to address the concerns of these groups; it was paneled by mostly men of the cloth and very few women.
Sandra Fluke, the Georgetown University law student who spoke on behalf of the medical benefits of birth control for ovarian cysts and other disorders associated with female reproductive health, was later called a “slut” by the radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh.
Female lawmakers are not taking these attacks lightly. My own State Senator Nina Turner (D) from Cleveland, has recently introduced a bill strengthening the requirements necessary for men to gain access to erectile dysfunction medications like Viagra or Cialis.
Her proposed bill has eight steps, starting with a signed affidavit by the man’s sexual partner confirming the condition.
He would then need to go to a state-licensed sex therapist and submit to stress tests to make sure he is healthy enough for sexual activity.
Then he would need to continue to undergo stress tests once every 90 days while on the medication and attend at least three outpatient counseling sessions.
The legislation is admittedly tongue in cheek, but the message to me is clear: women’s sexual health should not be held to a standard higher or more constrained than men.
Recently on The View another famous right-wing talking head, Bill O’Reilly, tackled the issue with his usual tact. He called ED a medical condition; meaning Viagra is necessary medication, after heavily implying he has never needed to use the drug.
O’Reilly ignored female medical conditions like ovarian cysts, saying generic birth control is only $9 at Walmart so women should just go buy it themselves.
As much as I would relish 10 minutes in a fight-to-the-death cage match with either Limbaugh or O’Reilly, I limit my anger to what I can channel through words.
And I’ll make it as simple as possible for the conservative base: a man’s opinion has no bearing on a woman’s body.
I’m on birth control because it’s a necessary precaution in college, and because it treats PMS symptoms. I would respect the opinion of any man who has had such severe back cramps he couldn’t sit in a desk and take notes for class – because then he would know what women go through once a month.
If you want to say that birth control is not a medical necessity, I will easily argue back that not being able to get an erection is hardly a medical emergency.
Even if a woman doesn’t suffer from ovarian cysts, birth control still helps regulate a woman’s cycle to make it more manageable.
I know saying words like tampon or gynecologist are the easiest ways to kill those erections the male audience is so concerned about, but until you have to deal with it, you have no say in the matter. Period.