In early July of this year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that employers can deny birth control to their employees. Burwell v. Hobby Lobby set off a new level to this issue that’s been debated on since the recession of 2008. The Scholars Strategy Network highlight the struggles regarding women and birth control where the Guttmacher Institute tallied about “36 million women in need of contraceptive care in 2008” and that number has increased as more and more women discontinue contraceptive use simply because they cannot afford this. However, according to Planned Parenthood, these two companies were granted a religious exemption to The Affordable Care Act [ACA] that covers birth control without co-pay after a 5-4 ruling. For those of you who are not aware, The Affordable Care Act is a federal healthcare reform bill passed by Congress and President Obama in 2010, where private health insurance plans will offer birth control [among other preventative services] without co-pays or deductibles. Now, it seems as if many others are following suit and at least “82 for–profit employers are challenging the ACA’s birth control mandate so that they, too, can deny the benefit to their employees.”
Birth control in the U.S. has become a controversial issue that somehow has given employers the opportunity to take a standpoint on whether it’s morally right or wrong to provide such coverage. This ruling is rather laughable to me as I’ve witnessed and read of women being laid off or not getting hired due to pregnancy or maternity leave. I wonder if these employers are considering the alternative side to this issue. I currently work for a non-profit organization but it’s only a matter of time before this matter hits home. Americans are treating birth control as if it’s a revolutionary idea when in fact it’s part of basic health care, and these mind numbing debates only set off more ignorance amongst the population.
Pulling the morality card on this issue only makes me think of the women in my culture who become pregnant and choose to keep the baby more often than women from other backgrounds. “Spanish girls get pregnant just by one looking at them,” said one male colleague of mine in the midst of a heated debate regarding women and birth control. His chuckle was followed by another slurp of Lo Mein and a satisfied sigh to his arrogant rhetoric. While scarfing down my General Tso chicken, I filtered out the many things I could’ve said when the idea dawned on me. Gulping my frustration down with water, I cleared my throat and said, “It’s not that Spanish women become pregnant more easily than others. Spanish women are less likely to have an abortion given our religious background, i.e. the Catholic Church.” His eyes almost sparkled to this perspective. “That makes total sense! I never thought of it that way!” Nodding his head in agreement he pulled at his Smartphone. Perhaps he was eager to share his newfound knowledge.
I often get into these topics with the opposite sex and I cannot always recall why exactly. I suppose it’s because I can ultimately acknowledge how men and women don’t (and probably won’t ever) see eye to eye in areas that are primarily grey in the midst of countless divergent views. Yet it seems as if the lack of coverage and education about birth control in America leads people, like my co-worker, to make and believe such insensitive and foolish statements. Though, reflecting on his whole rendition of women and birth control, however short sighted, he brought up a good point. Statistically speaking, minorities in the US are most likely to bear children before the age of 20.
I’ve considered the many single mothers in my family and countless young women I’ve come across who have struggled through abortions, broken condoms, failing contraceptives and the most popular, withdrawal method (that almost never works.) These inconsistencies in birth control mainly happened throughout my college years and, unlike my many female counterparts, thankfully I didn’t deal with any consequences. I suppose being an innocent bystander was lesson enough for me to become extremely careful. But coming from a Dominican-American family, I’ve learned that a large number of Hispanic women, more often than not, do become pregnant and keep the baby before graduating college. I’ve gathered that this is perhaps due to religion, moral beliefs and overall cultural background.
It seems like most employers are dealing with the same moral issue and I feel for them. Granting coverage for a basic need that affects us all is unimaginable to some and shame on the women who dare to ask for it. How could they sleep at night?
I am being deliberately facetious but you get the gist.
Limiting the resources for vital reproductive health care is what’s inconceivable and this sort of negligence only feeds into further ignorance. Learning that the United Kingdom grants free birth control for all astonished me and even with the ACA [thank God for small favors] we must wait “until [our] coverage has been verified, co-pays will continue to be collected, so [we] will not have to be billed later.” However, this is only if your employer will grant you such coverage and if they don’t, the number of working to middle class women putting off visits with health care providers for birth control will only increase and the misinformation about this will continue to float.
Ladies, let’s break the statistics and remind them that this reform benefits us all as Americans and ensure “birth control be available at no cost to every woman, no matter where she works.”