Girls Just Can’t Help But Have Fun

Very possibly one of the worst aspects of the Affordable Care Act—aside from its having raising health insurance prices, constricted the health insurance market, destabilized that same market, done serious damage to our constitutional order, and a few other similarly minor considerations—is the effect it has had on the popular perception of American womanhood. Public opinion of American women now seems to be: before the Affordable Care Act women were terrified, helpless waifs, buffeted by the heartless winds of a merciless pre-Obamacare marketplace and social landscape. Consequently, this opinion holds, if the Affordable Care Act is repealed, then women will be put into a perilous situation wherein their saving grace legislation will have been ripped away from them and they’ll be on their own. Don’t take it from me, take it from the Washington Post, which argues that “The Trump administration’s birth control overhaul could do serious harm:”

The draft of a proposed regulation, dated May 23 and obtained last week by Vox, would dramatically overhaul the government’s contraception coverage mandate. It would, if finalized, expand the exemption that currently applies to religious organizations and private employers with religious scruples to any employers or insurers expressing “religious beliefs and moral convictions” against birth control. No formal notification to the federal government would be required. “Moral” is not defined. And even for-profit, publicly traded companies would be able to lay claim to moral convictions. “The rule essentially would allow any employer to drop birth control coverage in employee health plans virtually at whim,” wrote Michael Hiltzik of the Los Angeles Times…

Without insurance — which, it should be noted, women pay for — birth control can be out of reach. A recent survey from PerryUndem found that 33 percent of women could afford to pay only $10 or less out of pocket for oral contraceptives, and 14 percent said they couldn’t afford to pay anything. Before the mandate went into effect, co-pays ranged from $15 to $50 a month. Again, this is of little concern to the Trump administration, which argues in the draft proposal that women can turn to federally subsidized family planning programs, a maddening if not insulting argument since the administration has also proposed cuts in Medicaid. Moreover, if Republicans had their druthers, Planned Parenthood, the main source of birth control for low-income women, would lose federal funding.

As an aside, the survey that the Post found that 33 percent of women could only afford $10 or less “if they needed it ‘today‘,” which is an entirely different consideration from, “at all, ever.” But maybe the Post didn’t think that was an important distinction.

In any case, the Post is mad: “Never mind,” the editors write, “the scientific studies showing that as the use of contraceptives increases, the rate of unintended pregnancies decreases. Or that the decline in the rate of teen pregnancy in recent years is believed to be a result of the greater availability of free long-term reversible contraceptives.”

Yet note what is so terminally absent from virtually every public debate about birth control that we have in this country: the notion that a woman, if she is unable to lay her hands on some birth control, might be able to—I don’t know—avoid having sex. Every contraception debate we’ve had over the past seven years or so has apparently started out with the presumption that women are incapable of exercising sexual restraint in the event that they’re unable to have contraceptive sexual intercourse. It’s just not something women are able to, you know, do.

This is the political landscape that the Affordable Care Act has wrought: a national public policy presumption that women are helplessly unable to control their own sexual urges and desires in any really effective way at all. It would be beyond the pale, I guess, for someone to say, “Hey, ladies, if this highly expensive and ineffective health insurance law is repealed, and you suddenly find yourself without an IUD or a pack of pills for a while, be careful and maybe don’t have sex if you don’t want to get pregnant.” Perish the thought: such a declaration, if it came from anyone of any consequence (present company excluded), would be a national scandal. In any event, I, for one, believe that women are more than capable of making smart decisions without the help of the federal government when it comes to both contraception and sex. It is odd that, in this day in age, such an opinion apparently makes you out to be a retrograde sexist.

3 comments

  1. David

    Unfortunately, in too many cases, it is the lack of control of men who then force women to make the choice between having an intimate relationship & having her independence. There are also, I believe, far too many men who are incapable or unwilling to step up in a responsible way when the woman they are involved with is facing the prospect of childbirth. If more men were, shall we say, “manly” in the sense that extends beyond being a sperm donor, then perhaps our debates about abortion would be much diminished since the real problem is not abortion but rather unwanted pregnancies. If there were no unwanted pregnancies then there would be many fewer abortions.

    It is easy to make the argument that women should be more selective in choosing their partners & I wouldn’t disagree. However that is not realistic. For much of history, the conservative values you seem to espouse were dominant. Abortion, divorce & out of wedlock sex were not sanctioned. Yet people still engaged in out of wedlock sex (see also) ( and also) & were either forced to marry or the women were shamed & added to the extensive poverty of the times. Those values didn’t actually improve people’s morals, they just increased people’s hypocrisy & added to the numbers of marginalized people in a world that was already rife with poverty. Of course it didn’t present problems for the well to do because those men could always just bang the Irish serving girl & toss her on the street when she became pregnant. Perhaps your conception of those values is more up to date & would correct for the many failings of the past. Perhaps your conception of conservative moral values would hold men equally responsible as women along with the means (as opposed to meaningless rhetoric) to ensure the same. If so I would enjoy reading a more thorough presentation of your ideas on the subject.

    Other than that, so long as the policies that drop birth control coverage also drop coverage for ED drugs s.a. Viagra I see no real problem here.

  2. Adriana Mandon

    David, I think you are talking about the double standard that existed in the period of time you are talking about and that’s true, I agree that men should be accountable too. Now, why men are not manly enough nowadays? That’s the question we should be focus on. One of the reasons I believe it’s women had put aside any men involvement in their pregnancies with the ideology of “my body is mine and I do what I want”, so men are just reduced to sperm donors or tools of pleasure (as women too, for example objectification in pornography movies)
    With this kind of mentality humans in general have lost HUMANITY, humans are spiritual beings too with an eternal soul, not only physical.
    Daniel, regarding your article (that always read with pleasure) I would point out only one thing, how is possible that in today s America, after all the knowledge, education, opportunities for women, there’s still 30% of women who cannot afford $10 per month? I have to tell you, I would wish that in the country I borne we had contraceptives so cheap, and of course, we paid for them because government says “your body, your money”.

    • David

      I believe I understand where you are coming from Adriana & I agree that the “objectification” is a malady that is too frequent among all members of our species. I do question the assumption that men are being emasculated by modern women. A man cannot be emasculated without his own permission. While there are cases where as you said, women “put aside men’s participation,” I think that it has been much more frequent that the man didn’t show that much interest in the pregnancy which is why women developed the attitude of “it’s my body & your participation is no longer needed.” Too often that participation was subpar to begin with. I’m fairly confident that abortions would be much less frequent if women only had more confidence in having a man who will treat her with honor & respect & assist in the process of child-rearing.

      There is an element of the issue where women have more financial freedom & are therefore less dependent on men for economic reasons. I have great respect for women who choose to stay out of the commercial workforce in order to focus on family. There is plenty of evidence that young children do much better when they have ready access to one or both parents. Some (including myself) would even argue that for the 1st 4-5 years the mother is the more important parental relationship for a child. Even so, I don’t think many people today would deny a woman the right to make it a choice. Also, in the too frequent instances where it isn’t a choice & the mother has to work in order to survive, I doubt many people would want to deny a mother the freedom to excel in any areas where she possesses the necessary talent & drive. Women have been treated as chattel for too much of human history & I don’t think many Americans, regardless of their politics, would want to return to that.

      Modern men have to struggle with the challenge of being masculine without the affirmation of a societal structure that forces dependency on their women. Too many people, particularly men, do not understand the difference between domination & dominion. Domination is what we see played out in our news media on a daily basis & all too few leaders are demonstrating the self-control inherent in dominion.