“After months of paying over $100 out of pocket, she just couldn’t afford her medication anymore and had to stop taking it. I got a message from her that in the middle of her final exam period she’d been in the emergency room all night in excruciating pain. She wrote, ‘It was so painful, I woke up thinking I’d been shot.’ Without her taking the birth control, a massive cyst the size of a tennis ball had grown on her ovary. She had to have surgery to remove her entire ovary.”
This is the part of the prepared testimony that Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student, was supposed to deliver to a Congressional meeting that gathered to discuss the matter of insurers paying for birth control. However, the panel of five Republican men who were testifying on this issue denied her the chance to provide input from the perspective of a woman. Fluke was eventually allowed to speak to Congress, but her audience was comprised of Democrats, with no GOP members in sight.
It seems nonsensical to omit women from a debate about policies involving the reproductive systems of women; however, this somehow seemed like a good idea to the old white men who insisted on throwing in their outdated two cents, despite how ill-informed they might be about the matter at hand. A large portion of the political right seems to be misinformed in this regard. At least that is what can be garnered from reading articles on various Republican-oriented websites. Words like “slut” and “whore” are thrown around casually on blogs that discuss right-wing views on contraceptives, and numerous individuals are quite huffy about the possibility that taxpayer dollars were going to aid the sexual adventures of coed females everywhere. They ignore the fact that Fluke’s statement did not mention sexual freedoms at all, but focused on the urgent medical needs of women everywhere. There is also zero attention given to the fact that providing for birth control is significantly cheaper than the insurance coverage for prenatal care and childbirth. The fact that a woman can be on birth control even when she isn’t engaging in sexual activity seems to fly over the heads of many vociferous Republicans.
As illustrated by the excerpt from Fluke’s testimony, birth control pills serve multiple medical purposes. I am one of the numerous women who had to start taking contraceptive pills at a shockingly early age not because I had intentions to get randy, but because I developed Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome.
This is a hormonal imbalance that is remedied by specific types of birth control. If this medicine is unavailable, then the afflicted individual suffers through irregular menses, debilitating pain from the rupturing of ovarian cysts and other equally unpleasant and frequently grisly symptoms. These ailments can often take a grim toll on one’s personal life, academic goals, and professional achievements. Severe pain becomes a frequent visitor; important exams are missed; friends are abandone; and eventually there is a need to register with the Disability Support Service. A disorder gradually morphs into a disability. I can attest to these personal costs since I’ve experienced them whenever I had to undergo “trial months” of not being medicated. PCOS affects between five to 10 percent of American women, and it’s disheartening to think that many of them will not be able to acquire the medication needed to ameliorate similar situations.
Birth control pills are also utilized in the treatment of endometriosis. This is another gynecological medical condition, which happens when cells from the uterine lining suddenly exist and flourish outside the uterus. This becomes a problem because it can cause internal scarring, extreme pains in the pelvic region, pelvic cysts, ovarian cysts, ruptured cysts, bowel obstruction and infertility. I happen to be intimately acquainted with endometriosis, and after a good year of grueling visits to doctors and operating rooms, I’ve managed to keep my endometriosis at bay using birth control pills.
However, I know for a fact that the 5.5 million American women who also suffer the same condition might not be as lucky as me because of the swiftly tightening fist of the government.
Saying that birth control pills are only used for worry-free sex, or fixating on this one aspect, shows a grave ignorance of its other more crucial uses. Members of Congress have beautifully demonstrated this lack of knowledge, proving that they are definitely not qualified to make decisions on behalf of the women who need these drugs for important purposes.
The public itself is also widely uneducated on the alternative uses of birth control pills, and this ignorance only aids and abets the inconsiderate decisions of those in power.