Thursday, November 02, 2017

Let's Talk About Sex ...

Steve King, Republican Congressman from Iowa and – more importantly for the purposes of this post – male, introduced legislation that would effectively ban abortions, as they would be illegal after six weeks, a point at which many women don't yet know they're pregnant.

A goodly portion of the commercials I see are for Viagra or Cialis and I don't watch sports. So if I'm seeing commercials for erectile-dysfunction pills during the programming I watch, I'm going to presume that the ad buys are much bigger, say, during NFL games.

These medications are covered by insurance. [ Update: Alison commented to mention that ED meds are not, in fact, covered by insurance. My Googling reveals that that is sometimes the case but not always. I've amended item No. 4, below, accordingly. The federal government does pay a hefty tab for ED meds for VA patients each year, though I'm A-OK with our vets getting all that we've promised and more. ]

I am also aware, anecdotally, that men really like to have sex. So it stands to reason that they would be willing consumers of anything that enables them to pursue that pastime.

I am also also aware that men really do not like to wear condoms – "It ruins the sensation!" – nor do they like to get vasectomies. Snip-snips are no-nos for the Y-chromosome set.

Ergo, we womenfolk are expected to be the responsible party.

What else is new?

Let's review the miracle of possessing wombs:

Somewhere around 12 years old, give or take a couple years, our bodies begin the process of menstruation. In some cultures, girls and women are shunned from their communities while they're menstruating but in this country, we don't have to live in a hut or subsist in the forest for one week every month.

We have the creature comforts of sanitary napkins or tampons. (Many women don't. Think about what that's like.) Never mind the delight of shoving cotton into our vaginas on a regular basis. My point about these products is this: we have to buy them from, for a round number, 40 years – from the time we're 12 until the time we're 52. Every month. They are not inexpensive. They are only now, in some places, becoming tax-exempt. And, again, we have to buy them for 40 YEARS.

Some restrooms have napkin / tampon dispensers. Many do not. (In her book, Who Thought This Was A Good Idea?, Alyssa Mastromonaco writes of getting such a dispenser installed in the women's restrooom in the West Wing.) Many women carry a few tampons in their purse at all times. Most of us, I'd wager, have shared our stash with a woman in need.

And then there are cramps. Some women have terrible cramps every month – sometimes incapacitatingly so – others experience them rarely.

And then there are hormonal shifts. We can't control those. That's nature's doing. And yet, if we're not sunshine and roses, we reliably hear, "What the matter with you? Are you on your period?" That last word is often spat out with contempt.

Pardon us for being responsible for continuing the human race.

So then: birth control.

Thanks to better living through chemistry, womenfolk need not get pregnant constantly! Huzzah!

Birth control, however, also costs money. For women who are fortunate to have insurance, it has traditionally not cost a lot of money. Under the Affordable Care Act, birth control was paid for by insurance.

The Trump administration recently gutted that provision.

The GOP, you may also be aware, was doing its damndest to repeal the ACA and strip tens of millions of people of their health insurance all together.

I saw many people spouting variations on "So what? Birth control only costs a few bucks a month!"

It depends on a) whether you have insurance and b) the type of birth control. Some forms are more expensive than others.

Regardless, for someone making minimum wage, those dollars really count.

Still, pregnancies happen.

But the GOP does not want us to have access to abortion, never mind that it's a Constitutionally protected right, never mind that most of the people trying to prevent us from accessing abortion are men, who see nothing wrong with dictating what women can and can't do inside their bodies.

On Twitter recently, I saw a tweet from a guy asking Jeff Sessions which part of his body he's OK with the government controlling. Thanks, Guy on Twitter! We appreciate allies.

So, let's say a woman gets pregnant unintentionally. For the purposes of this discussion, let's say it wasn't a rape or incest.

The guy, who is literally responsible for the pregnancy, as women do not produce both egg and sperm, can stick around or not. He can contribute financially or not. Depending on the circumstances, women may end up having to go to court to get child support, another expense for them.

But let's rewind a bit:

A woman finds out she's pregnant. (Perhaps because she bought a pregnancy test. More dollars spent.)

She has morning sickness. It's bad. She has to call off often from her hourly wage job.

She gets fired.

So now she's pregnant and out of a job.

Does she have insurance?

Maybe. But if the GOP gets its way, insurance providers won't be required to cover maternity care.

Or maybe not.

If not, how is she supposed to access medical care for her pregnancy? She'll need to see an OB/GYN. Eventually, she'll need to give birth. Even if she gives birth at home, she'll need someone there who can help her through the process.

Once the baby is here, the baby will need a doctor for routine check-ups, inoculations, etc.

There was a time when we had a healthcare program specifically to cover children: CHIP.

But the GOP has let CHIP expire. It hasn't been renewed. Will it be? Who knows. The GOP, even with its unified control of government, has yet to pass any meaningful legislation (other than more sanctions for Russia, which have not been implemented, and gee, I wonder why).

So what's our new mom to do? Has she been able to get a new job during her pregnancy? I hope so. I hope she still has that job. If she takes time off of work after the baby is born, she may or may not be paid for that time, an absurd reality in this country.

If she still has her job, whether or not she takes time off, she now needs to pay for child care. Child care is expensive, often more expensive than someone earns. So they don't work. But they need income. They need to provide for the child they now have, the child they were forced to have by the government.

But people who apply for welfare programs are derided as "lazy" and "takers."

So, to recap:

1. Men like to have sex – so much so that they will take medication to ensure the ability to have it – but they don't like to wear condoms or undergo vasectomies.

2. Men expect to have sex.

3. Women also like to have sex but may get pregnant as a result.

4. Insurance [ sometimes ] pays for ED meds.

5. Insurance is no longer required to pay for birth control.

6. If a woman gets pregnant, the government is trying to mandate that she carry the pregnancy to term. Also:

— The man can stick around or not.

— The woman may or may not have health care to help her through her pregnancy and delivery. In the richest country on the planet, health care is not guaranteed to all citizens. It's a privilege, not a right.

— The woman may or may not be able to continue working. If so, she will be shamed for needing welfare assistance.

— The woman should not expect any government assistance with:
- Caring for her child medically
- Caring for her child so she can work
- Housing her child
- Feeding her child
- Clothing her child
- Educating her child (even public education costs some money)

And all of this is being dictated, by and large, by men, who will never face any of these issues head on. After a few minutes of pleasure, they can absent themselves from all of it.

Yes, we're angry about this. Even when we're not on our periods.


Blogger Alison said...

This is a great post, but insurance doesn't pay for ED meds.

12:06 AM  
Blogger Beth said...

Thanks, Alison.

From what I've found when Googling, some providers / plans do, though often with a higher co-pay. The federal government pays a hefty tab for ED meds annually, not that I begrudge our vets anything. That may have been what was top of mind when I wrote this. I've updated the post in places accordingly.

Appreciate the nudge!

8:00 PM  

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