NSFW: According to the National Survey of Family Growth (NSFG) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in 2002 98.2% of women 15 – 44 who have had sexual intercourse have used contraception. Here’s the breakdown by method:
Percentage of women who have ever used the specified contraceptive method, among women 15-44 who have ever had intercourse, 2002:
- Any method of contraception: 98.2%
- Male condom: 89.7%
- Pill: 82.3%
- Withdrawal: 56.1%
- Female sterilization: 20.7%
- Injectable contraception: 17.7%
- 1-month injectable (LunelleTm): 0.9%
- 3-month injectable (Depo-ProveraTm): 16.8%
- Rhythm method: 16.2%
- Male sterilization: 13.0%
Why are we having a data-swarm on Valentines Day? Because whether you are a lady, are partnered with a lady, or were born from a lady (that last one includes everyone), I am 98.2% sure you have been near lady parts protected by contraception. And that’s what contraception is to the the 98.2% of us who use it: protection.
My IUD protects my future. When I was on the pill–starting a few years after my first period because life is too short to spend 13 days of it heavily medicated to deal with menstrual pain–it was protecting my ability to wrestle and keep up with school work.
And for the 1.8% of women who have never used contraception? That’s their choice. Feminism is all about choices and maximizing freedom while minimizing harm.
Some passionate, articulate (and funny) people have argued that the new rule from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services requiring religiously-affiliated universities, hospitals, and organizations to provide health insurance plans that include contraception without co-pays (which costs women up to $600 a year) is an attack on religious liberty. Not individual religious liberty–since there is nothing in the decision requiring any person to use any form of birth control, just to chip-in to support others if they choose to use it–but group religious liberty.
A majority of Catholic men and women support contraception with no co-pays according to Public Policy Polling. But faith isn’t a democracy, so when the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) objects on behalf of all Catholics they might be representing the spiritual needs of all Catholics rather than their opinions. Here is a letter read at all of the Masses in Brooklyn last weekend:
This gets us into even deeper territory: I believe paying taxes to the government and premiums to the insurance companies are two morally different things, but if I were morally opposed to unnatural erections from Viagra and refused to buy health insurance plans that covered Viagra, then I would appear to have the same moral stance as the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.
Not that I am morally opposed to Viagra, though I believe it has no business being covered under any health care plans that do not also cover contraception. As in all things, Bill O’Reilly disagrees with me here:
Caustic sexism aside, Mr. O’Reilly gets to the core of exactly why I think everyone should help pay for the birth control: today, $600 a year is part of the cost of being a woman. $600 a year women could be using for textbooks, for car-payments, for paying down their student loan debt.
I do not think it should cost more to be a sexually active woman than to be a sexually active man.
I think someone who employs people should be governed by the laws for employers.
I think employees should be able to make moral choices for themselves based on their faith, or non-faith, and health needs, as determined by them and their doctors.
Birth control without co-pays is our societal down-payment on gender equality. If women don’t want to use birth control, as a feminist, I support that choice. But as in nearly all things, I think it should be an individual, not a governmental, and not an institutional, choice.
“There is a special place in hell for women who do not help other women.”–Madeleine K. Albright