The news this last couple of weeks was full of things important to us in one way or another. First was all the mess with Planned Parenthood losing funding from one source, gaining it from donations and then the original source reversing course and dumping a leader. Then it was all about Catholic institutions being forced to carry insurance that covers contraception, even though it is against their beliefs.
A friend posted about that on facebook, trying to clarify the issues for herself. Is it right to deny such coverage to someone who only works for you, but does not share your faith? And what of those who wish to become pregnant, if contraception is covered, shouldn’t fertility treatments also be covered? The comments ran other issues, such as, if this is a health issue, are hormonal treatments the healthiest option? Why should the insurance companies be on the hook for the entire cost? Won’t that simply raise the rates for everyone? Why should the pill be given preference over non-hormonal over the counter options that are cheaper, but would not be covered?
I don’t have any answers, but I found, as the discussion continued, that something else was bothering me. It’s kind of a matter of attitude, not just the fact that the administration seemed to think they could push this through, and were surprised that there was a lot of push back from those concerned about the free exercise of religion. The administration blinked on that and backed off just far enough that some say perhaps the question of differing values can begin to be discussed.
Instead, it was the whole idea of the pill somehow being a right, something everyone should have, and for free no less, as if it were somehow essential to life. The birth rates have been falling in our bad economy, and yet it seems they would want to push it down a lot further. Does the government have some compelling reason to push the pill instead of letting it compete with other methods of contraception on its own merits? I’m not sure I’m even saying this right, but on some level it seems like a devaluing of pregnancy, babies and mothers as well. Of course it’s not new. All of this controversy has been around ever since the pill was invented. But it brought up some memories from the early years of my own marriage. See if you pick up the same attitude I did.
I guess I was the type of person that this administration believes does not exist, since I had no use for birth control until I married in my mid-thirties. Having never had a specialist, I went to my family practice physician for birth control before getting married. I asked for a simple barrier device like my mother had used before me. Well, it was a little passe´ by that time and he was ultimately unable to deliver. Instead he started talking to me about how the pill was more effective anyway and didn’t I want to try it. Well, I had read all sorts of horror stories about it in the health magazines and my own sister had had problems with it. I could see no reason to play around with my hormones, so I politely declined and headed to the drugstore. We wanted children in any case, though preferably not in our first year together. So we were willing to take the risk of failure of one or another method.
But guess what? The OTC stuff worked just fine. So you can imagine my surprise when I went to the doctor on another occasion. I think it was between child number one and number two. The doctor asked what we were using for birth control and I told him. Well he launched into some explanation that it was not very effective, especially if one did not allow the recommended 10 minutes to elapse, etc. I must have given him a strange look because he finally stopped, but if I recall he again offered me the pill and I again declined.
I left quite perturbed, not just because he kept trying to get me to take something I did not want to take, but because of the attitude that somehow it would be tragic if I became pregnant. I was already married, so what on earth would be tragic or shameful about my having another child? Yes, I preferred to space my children out a bit, but if it didn’t work that would be fine also. And why would the man assume that anyone would find it difficult to set a timer and wait for it to ring? I couldn’t make heads or tails out of it at the time so I continued to do what I had been doing and it worked just fine.
So now it has come back to me along with news that the current administration wants to make the pill available to everyone, for free no less. You see, it would be tragic or shameful if anyone became pregnant at any time that might be inconvenient for them. Have they never heard that children are a blessing? Have they no concern for all those affected by the side effects of the pill? Why are they devaluing children in this way? Sure, it is quite a concern if you are not married, not that I advocate that. But even there, given that the stigma is less than it used to be, most people I know who have had unintended pregnancies are quite happy with their children as the years go by. As for me, I’d rather the government stay out of my private business.