Lost In the Circus

BY Alex Alston

Earlier this month the Obama administration took a marked step forward on the issue of women’s healthcare with the Affordable Care Act by requiring new health insurance plans to cover birth control, annual exams, breastfeeding tools, and a host of other preventative care-related services, all without co-pays, co-insurance, or deductibles.  A clear victory for women across party lines, this decision drew ire from many on the right, perhaps most notably, Fox News host Bill O’Reilly.  Obviously, no one expected O’Reilly to be on board with anything the President thought was a good idea, (he probably found it outrageous that Mr. Obama would turn 50 with this economy the way it is) but there is something deeper than just run-of-the-mill partisan politics going on in O’Reilly’s efforts to malign the decision.

Aside from O’Reilly’s position that making healthcare affordable and accessible to all women is the equivalent of “a welfare state” and an overwhelming reason for businesses not to expand and hire, he reasons that, “Many women who get pregnant are blasted out of their minds when they have sex, they’re not gonna use birth control anyway.”  Now if you can find a way to overlook the crass and sexist generalization made here (if you can’t that’s fine too) you’ll see that Mr. O’Reilly has a bit of a flawed understanding of how the birth control pill actually works.  Most of us are aware that this is something a woman takes daily and not just after sex.  Place his comments in the backdrop of a national war on women’s reproductive health and the big picture is frightening.  A faction of Americans, led by mostly men, is waging an assault on women’s healthcare and reproductive rights without a basic understanding of something so simple as a birth control regimen.  The discourse then, around the subject, is not a debate, but a political circus wherein no effort is being made to genuinely understand what gender equality would look like, let alone value that.  Inevitably, the implications for all Americans are tangibly detrimental.

Hi, my name is Alex and I’m a college student who interned at Hollaback! this past summer.  I am, of course, elated to be a part of the blogging team and hope some of you can hear echoes of your own voices in my writing.  I’m new at this so any comments or suggestions would be more than welcome!

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  1. Gene says:

    First, love the site and think it is a very worthwhile effort (for what that’s worth).

    Second, most in the media (right, left or center) are full of hot air and say things to generate ratings which translate into revenue.

    Finally (the point), I have mixed feelings about this law. Yes, I share the *opinion* that everyone should have their healthcare needs met, including reproductive healthcare needs. But, we are a middle class family. I work 80+ hours a week to cover our necessities and it is a little aggravating when I hear of new laws that I know are going to cost me more. Why no deductibles or co-pays? I’m responsible for all aspects of my family’s health, so why does this one group get a pass on that?

    Yes, I realize that the increased cost of the new plans will be shared amongst all the customers, including the new ones, but why the substantially increased burden? Shouldn’t the direct beneficiaries of the new law share at least the same burden as those who aren’t? When I see a doctor or get a prescription, I have to meet deductibles and make co-pays.

    I agree that the reproductive health of women affects everyone and I understand this is an added burden to their lives, but what makes it so special that it gets a protected status? Why not just throw those healthcare needs in the pot with all the others and say to the insurance companies, “Look, treat these like every other healthcare need. They are no different than prostate exams or heart disease meds or whatever.” There are many groups that have their own medical needs; membership in any of them should not preclude coverage, nor should it make it entitled.

    Notes:
    1. This wasn’t meant to start a flame war.
    2. I agree that society has an obligation to care for those unable to care for themselves, I just don’t think the government is capable of doing that.

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