Are your birth control rights really endangered?
By Gretchen Voss
You're probably one of the 99 percenters. Meaning, one of the 99 percent of American women who are or have been sexually active and have used some sort of birth control.
Maybe it's daily pills or monthly shots or some other form of pregnancy prevention. Maybe you already have all the kids you want, or you're waiting until you're ready to have a baby, or you've decided you'll never be ready. And perhaps your contraceptive of choice also eases a medical problem—whether it's painful endometriosis or scary ovarian cysts or disabling pelvic cramps—or helps stave off a new one, such as ovarian or uterine cancer. When it comes to controlling your reproductive health and destiny, birth control has always been there for you and always will be, right?
In a word, no. Because today, there's a national discourse raging around access to birth control—40 years after the Supreme Court legalized contraception for all women, irrespective of marital status, and five decades after the birth-control pill's introduction. And while fringy far-right extremists have always blasted away at contraceptive use, they have now infiltrated the mainstream—in the form of Tea Party Republicans and GOP presidential candidates. "It is shocking to see the vehemence of the attacks on contraception that we are facing these days," says Marcia Greenberger, copresident of the National Women's Law Center.
All of this has left young women around the country fretting about what a conservative-crafted future would mean for them. Take Chris Mascaro, a 29-year-old graphic designer in Rockford, Michigan, who earns $35,000 a year working for an employer who doesn't offer health coverage. Rent, student loans, groceries . . . they gobble up her paycheck, leaving nothing—certainly not the more than $150 she would need to pay a private ob-gyn for a Depo-Provera shot, which she has used in the past not only to help her put off having kids until she can afford them but also to treat her debilitating and painful endometriosis. Thankfully, she had access to a Planned Parenthood clinic, where she paid $59 to cover this basic health need. But she worries, constantly, that women's health programs will lose their funding and shut down.
Her fear is well founded. Some of the recent attacks launched by staunch conservatives are chillingly retro and misogynistic: Rick Santorum's financial backer pining for the days when a woman stuck an aspirin between her knees to avoid pregnancy; a GOP legislator in New Hampshire, Lynne Blankenbeker, proposing that married—married!—couples could practice abstinence unless they want to conceive; a panel of all-male House Republican legislators and religious leaders debating contraceptive coverage at a House Committee meeting; conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh going on a three-day on-air tirade against law student Sandra Fluke, calling her a slut and a prostitute for speaking up in favor of birth-control coverage. And, particularly scary for Chris, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney pledging to defund Planned Parenthood if elected. Also out of luck if Romney wins: the one in five women in the U.S. who have received basic health care and disease screenings at one of Planned Parenthood's more than 800 clinics.
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Read more at Women's Health: http://www.womenshealthmag.com/health/birth-control-rights#ixzz2BRn0uRIw