Tim McMullen's Missives and Tomes

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

“Republicans want women to have easier access to birth control–so why is Planned Parenthood against this?” An Explanation.

RARE (self characterized as “America's News Feed”), offered an article by W. James Antle III, entitled “Republicans want women to have easier access to birth control–so why is Planned Parenthood against this?”

Both the Republican election year contraception proposals and Antle's analysis purporting to uncover "liberal" and "feminist" hypocrisy are completely disingenuous.

As for the “metaphorical” war on women—yes, it is metaphorical, just like the war on drugs, war on poverty, war on terrorism, war on Christmas, et al. In this case, however, it is a metaphor for the real life, day to day assaults on women's rights and women's access to health care being perpetrated locally and nationally by radical right ideologues. How long have Bobby Jindal and the other four Republicans running for office been supportive of over the counter contraception? Bobby Jindal suggested it two years ago. The others, four to six days ago! By the way, Planned Parenthood welcomed Bobby Jindal's OTR advocacy back then, what they question now on all of these politicians are their motives and their actual intentions—more about that later.

Several of the arguments this article makes for OTC contraception in terms of accessibility are precisely the arguments made for years by women's advocates. And, yes,
Polls find no significant partisan disagreement about birth control”; however, Republican politicians have shown a complete disregard for the interests or wishes of the vast majority of Americans on women's rights including contraception and abortion, worker's rights, gay rights, immigrant rights, civil rights, the government shut down, income inequality and many other issues. Is this Republican ruse on contraception an attempt to obfuscate their basic legislative antipathy toward women and women's rights? Undoubtedly.

This new “bi-partisan” effort to promote over the counter contraception is EXACTLY what it seems: A double-edged political ploy. While overtly harming women with opposition to raising the minimum wage (a majority of the lowest wage workers are women), cutting back on child and family welfare programs while extending corporate tax breaks and hand outs, opposition to extending unemployment insurance, limiting voter access (to name a few right wing tactics), the new Republican proposal offered by four or five candidates seems to offer a long sought feminist goal—less expensive, less prohibitive access to birth control.

Make no mistake: this
tiny, carefully nuanced Republican overture is the direct result of the Affordable Care Act offering no-copay, shared-cost access to birth control. [“Shared cost” is precisely the premise of insurance; i.e., everyone pays in, and those who wind up needing it use it]. Is over-the-counter guaranteed to make access cheaper? NO. Look at the skyrocketing costs of medical and pharmaceuticals. They have been entirely, outrageously disproportionate from the actual COLA for decades. If some forms of contraception become designated as OTC, will insurance still be required to to cover them. No one knows! The Republican House tried over 50 times to destroy the ACA. If they are ever successful, would even over-the-counter contraception be certain? Absolutely not. Even under the ACA, could OTC status remove contraception from insurance coverage? Quite possibly, and quite certainly with a little legislative tweaking. The absurd Arizona bill declaring that a woman is pregnant two weeks BEFORE conception shows the political vagaries of trusting women's rights to Republican politicians.
As stated, Hobby Lobby's insurance allowed many of the available forms of contraception, only banning a few, but there was absolutely no guarantee that they wouldn't exclude many more once their exemption under the Affordable Care Act was allowed; other plaintiffs argued for a complete exemption.

The “free-market” solution offered by Antle can and is constantly subverted by the very players who tout laissez faire. A single payer program with contraception and abortion provided without additional cost provides a much less costly approach to health care in general (by eliminating the middle man—the for-profit insurance industry—and by having much greater negotiating power with the profiteering pharmaceutical industry), including a much greater likelihood of eliminating unwanted pregnancies.

Should we trust Bobby Jindal, Ed Gillespie, Mike McFadden, Cory Gardner, Thom Tillis or W. James Antle III and their advocacy of over-the-counter contraception? Better to call it over-the-counter deception. First of all, this advocacy is only about “oral contraception,” aka “the pill.” Antle's article alludes to “the more controversial ones, like IUDs.” The major controversy over the IUD was in 1974 over one specific brand that was pulled from the market this year; most of the other “controversy” was and is over myths and misconceptions. However, the limitation of the Republican proposal to basically ONE form of contraception could potentially and quite easily put many of the others in much greater doubt.

All five vehemently oppose abortion rights, and all four oppose the Affordable Care Act’s mandate that insurance policies pay for preventative care, including birth control, with no deductibles or co-pays. They adamantly support the argument that NO ONE should have to help to pay for abortion against their religious beliefs. This “pro-life” stance, of course, does not extend the same consideration for those whose religious beliefs oppose executions or war. They support a personhood amendment which could easily be used to undermine many current forms of birth control. The idea that one should not in any way be “forced” to pay for someone else's contraception or abortion could immediately lead to the insistence that, since religious objectors carry insurance and pay into that insurance, no insurance company should provide insurance for any form of contraception or abortion. “So, here, ladies (and gents),” you can hear the Republican bandwagon whisper, “Here's your over-the-counter Oral contraception...ha-ha-ha-ha-ha-ha!”

“The Greatest Threat to Democracy is Hypocrisy! Seek Truth! Speak Truth!” Tim McMullen