A lot of people take birth control because they have terrible cramps, irregular periods, ovarian cysts, or skin problems.
I take birth control because I don’t want to get pregnant.
For some reason advocates for the ACA’s contraception mandate have tip-toed around the fact that I deserve to be covered just as much as those who already have medical problems. Because for me, pregnancy would be a major medical problem.
Too often some jerkoff like Rush Limbaugh claims birth control is essentially slut pills, wrongly believing that the cost of birth control is directly correlated to how much sex you’re having. (This perhaps reveals much more about Limbaugh’s sex life and the pills he is using than anything about birth control).
In response, those in favor of the mandate point to alternative reasons we use birth control. We seem to be ashamed that many use contraception simply to maximize the safeness of the sex they’re having.
Some people just don’t want to get pregnant. They can be single, in committed relationships, married with three children. They can be young or old. They can have voracious sexual appetites or subdued ones. They can even (gasp!) identify as men.
Preventing a medical condition is not less valuable than treating one. The value of preventive measures like doctor’s visits and yearly screenings seems self-evident, but as soon as the medicine has to do with sex, we’re squeamish.
Unless, of course, we’re talking about male enhancement. Coverage of Viagra and Cialis is a given, because boners are important. Much more important than planning a family.
More than half of pregnancies in the US are unplanned, meaning that by age 45 half of all women will have experienced an unexpected pregnancy. Unintended pregnancies are concentrated among lower income women who, without the ACA contraception mandate, likely couldn’t afford medical forms of contraception like pills, patches, injections, or IUDs.
The impact of an unplanned pregnancy could be dire on a fledgling family. Both mother and baby’s health could be at risk due to lack of medical care. These families are also less likely to be financially prepared to have a child.
Unintended pregnancy is so common in the US that the CDC encourages all women of reproductive age to act like they could be impregnated at any moment. (This framing, of course, is problematic in its own right).
Ninety-five percent of unexpected pregnancies occur because contraceptive use was inconsistent or nonexistent for a month or more. The widespread lack of meaningful sex education accounts for part of this inconsistency (why use contraception when you’re taught it doesn’t work anyway?), but until the passage of the ACA’s contraceptive mandate, the prohibitive cost of birth control is also to blame.
Ensuring that pregnancies are planned is good for the health of our citizenry — physically and economically — which in turn is good for the health of the US government and economy.
Expanding access to contraception is good public policy, whether it’s being used to prevent monstrously bad cramps or to prevent pregnancy.