Column: Trump administration ignores science behind birth control


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Woman protests the right to birth control in front of the Justice Department. The Trump administration has removed a mandate demanding all employers cover birth control on their provided health insurance plan.

By Bridget O'Toole, Round Table opinion editor

On October 16, President Trump and his administration rolled back the federal requirement for employers to include contraceptive coverage in their health insurance plans; benefiting business owners who have moral or religious objections to providing women with birth control. This new mandate would go into effect in January of 2018, when US companies renew their health care plans.

A women’s right to birth control coverage is very important and an absolute necessity to keep women healthy. The rollback of this mandate, which allows more than 62 million women free access to birth control, will intrude on many women’s day to day lives and health. In fact, 99% of all sexually-experienced women have used it in some point in their lives, according to Planned Parenthood.

For those saying it is the business owner’s right to deny coverage for religious and moral reasons, are downright ignorant. Women should have the right to make decisions about their bodies including deciding when they want to become pregnant, it they choose that at all

Birth control isn’t simply about killing babies and avoiding conception, it is used for an abundant amount of health issues as well.

For one, it can lessen menstrual cramps, a reason 31% of women take it. According to an Independent article, a professor of reproductive health at University College London, John Gillebaud, said period cramps “can be as ‘bad as having a heart attack’. He said: ‘Men don’t get it and it hasn’t been given the centrality it should have.’” Cramps are often overlooked as pain that comes with periods, but they can be extremely debilitating, causing women to miss work, school, or other activities in their day to day lives, birth control can decrease this pain significantly.

28% of women also take the pill to regulate the flow of blood from their period.  Having a heavy flow can stop you from living your life to the fullest and can cause anemia which can be a life-threatening condition if untreated.  It can also cause embarrassing and uncomfortable situations.

Birth control not only helps control periods, but it can control hormones as well. 14% of women use the pill to control chronic acne. Acne can lead to a lower sense of self-esteem and impact your chances of getting a job, according to a CBS News report. According to the article, in a study conducted by Juan Madera of the University of Houston it was found that “the more the interviewers attended to stigmatized features on the face, the less they remembered about the candidate’s interview content which led to decreases in ratings of the applicant.”

This isn’t just an issue of women’s sexual and health rights, it’s also economic. A 2010 survey done by Planned Parenthood found that more than a third of female voters have struggled to afford birth control at some point in their lives, and as a result, used birth control inconsistently. A birth control copay can range from $15 to $50, which can add up to $600 dollars per year, something low income women simply couldn’t afford.

Let’s face it, despite the numerous ways that birth control can benefit women, many, approximately 10%, use it simply to have safe and casual sex and avoid pregnancy. In this case, birth control not only benefits the women, but men as well who are not ready to be parents.  Birth control has also been shown to decrease the amount of abortions women have, shouldn’t Pro-Lifers support birth control if it decreases abortions? Most birth control contains a mix of the hormones progesterone and estrogen which prevent ovulation. Sperm can’t fertilize the egg because without ovulation there is no egg to be fertilized, therefore there is no egg to join with sperm. This means no embryo is formed when using birth control, unlike abortions which Pro-Lifers claim kill living humans, because a baby has been formed from the joining of a sperm and egg.

Women shouldn’t be shamed for the sex they have, whether it is premarital or not, if men aren’t shamed for those they sleep with. The lawmakers who have the audacity to say that women should have less sex in order to avoid pregnancy don’t tell men to have less sex for the same thing. Putting the full responsibility on only women because they’re the ones carrying the babies is extremely offensive and sexist.

Viagra has faced no challenge by health insurance companies and there has been absolutely no talk of allowing employers to deny men’s access to Viagra, it’s not even up for debate. This is an innate form of sexism, becoming embedded within our society and it’s not being talked about enough. Men should be just as responsible for their actions, and understand the consequences that can come from sex.

Birth control is basic health care. Lawmakers and employers have no right to infringe upon it.

This matter is personal to me because I take birth control. I’m extremely lucky that the removal of the mandate won’t affect me, but it could affect people like me which is not okay. I understand why birth control is beneficial first hand, as I take it for both cramps and acne and used to miss school because my cramps were so debilitating.

Planned Parenthood has started a petition, telling Trump “We demand birth control for all”, which I am proud to have signed, because inaction in a matter as serious as this simply isn’t an option.

Let’s face it, 71% of our elected officials are men, I bet they don’t know half of the health benefits birth control has. Men don’t have the right to make decisions about something they have no first-hand experience in: being a woman and having a period.

If talking about birth control, abstinence, or a women’s period makes a man uncomfortable, then they shouldn’t be regulating it. It seems the Trump administration may need a simple lesson about birth control, they obviously don’t have the sensitivity or desire to learn about it themselves and have instead resorted to sexism.