Irresponsible media and certain government leaders have framed women's health as though those who support preventive care also support blasphemy, idolatry, sexual looseness, individual unaccountabilityws and fiscal wastefulness.
The Women's Amendment of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) mandates insurance companies to provide FDA approved contraceptives free of co-pay to women. The Blunt Amendment, blocked by Senate earlier this year, would have allowed employers to opt out of this mandate based on violation of religious freedom.
Women's rights to life, freedom of choice, labor force participation and education have been compromised by immoral allegations. Therefore, this post appeals to perspectives of religion, economics, and health to urge voters towards support of the presidential candidate who understands women's health as a determinant of men's health. Of the nation's health.
The positions President Obama and Governor Romney took on the Women's Amendment is indicative of their social, economic, and political values. Here are facts behind the mandate to inform your vote.
Case Against Unintended Pregnancies (UPs)
All pregnancies should be intended, consciously and clearly desired. A woman is able to form the healthiest decisions for herself and her family when she is allowed right to determine timing, spacing, and number of children. Yet, 49 percent of American pregnancies are unintended. For females 19 years old or younger, 80 percent of pregnancies are unintended.
UPs are associated with reduced ability to participate in the labor force. This is a concern as women constitute 50 percent of the U.S. labor force, female-owned small businesses are expected to generate $3 trillion in revenues this year, and these businesses are anticipated to create 5 million jobs over the next six years.
Associated with pre-term births, chromosomal defects, miscarriage, maternal depression, tobacco and alcohol abuse by both mother and child, child abuse, domestic violence, education dropouts, marriage instability, and poverty, UPs have further societal consequences.
Contraceptive Health Benefits
Couples who do not use contraception have 85 percent increased risk of having an UP within 12 months of sexual activity. Half of these pregnancies end in abortion, but a recent study shows no co-pay contraception coverage can reduce abortion rates by 78 percent. To repeat, that's a 78 percent decrease. Pro-life supporters should be rejoicing with this intervention.
762,000 women who have never had sex use contraceptive methods for health benefits, including hormonal regulation, protection against severe menstrual pain, excessive menstrual bleeding, menstrual migraines, pelvic pain from endometriosis, breast cysts and even excess hair growth and acne.
Other health benefits include reduced risk of ovarian cancer, osteoporosis and protection against HIV transmission, HPV-associated diseases and other sexually transmitted infections.
Affordability deters consistent contraceptive usage. 34 percent of women struggle to afford contraceptives and 95 percent of UPs are because of inconsistent contraceptive use. This especially disadvantages low-income and minority communities.
• Women below federal poverty line have 132 UPs/1,000 females whereas the highest income bracket has 24 UPs/1,000 women.
• Poverty has widened reproductive health disparities amongst socioeconomic classes. Between 1994 to 2006, there was a 50 percent increase in UPs amongst women below federal poverty line, while the highest income bracket had a 29 percent decrease in UPs.
• In general, the South has the highest UP rates. Mississippi leads with 69 UPs/1,000 women compared to the lowest rate, 36 UPs, in New Hampshire.
• White women have 36 UPs, while black women have the highest rate of any ethnic group, at 91 UPs/1,000 women.
• Affordable contraception is a particularly important preventive measure for sexually active adolescents, as teenage parenthood is associated with lifelong single parent homes, uneducated and poor lifestyles, and increased risk their children will themselves become single parents.
• Public state programs often end up paying costs of UPs. In fact, Louisiana and Mississippi public programs footed the bill for 81 percent of their UPs.
Analysis shows for every government dollar invested in preventing UPs, government saves $3.74 in Medicaid expenditures. In 2008, this saved the U.S. $5.1 billion.
Further benefits show employers spend 15 percent to 17 percent more to not cover contraceptives under their health plans, after accounting for both direct medical costs of pregnancy and indirect costs such as employee absence and reduced productivity.
Furthermore, as UPs amongst adolescents decrease, society benefits from reduced poverty and crime and strengthened education.
Contraception and the Religious Argument
The Women's Amendment does not preclude civil rights to freedom of choice, religion, or sanctity of life. Religious employers, who predominately employ or serve those of the same faith, are not obliged to provide or even refer contraceptive services.
Still, it should be noted 99 percent of all sexually active women and 98 percent of sexually experienced Catholic women have used a contraceptive at some point.
Legislators can only make decisions based on rights and evidence common to all citizens, which include health outcomes, costs and benefits and freedom to choose religion.
If a church, mosque, or temple interprets constituents' behaviors in discordance with religious text, that denomination has a responsibility to directly address the issue through its spiritual house. Not the White House.
Not affording contraceptives to those who are not morally, socially, or religiously against contraceptive coverage would be limiting tangible access to the resource, effectively forcing one religious thought upon America's diverse faith constituency.
No co-pay contraceptive coverage is cost saving to families, businesses, and insurance companies (all which men occupy), reduces disease prevalence, saving public taxpayer dollars (which include men's taxpayer dollars), and secures every citizen's and religious institution's right to interpret religion and act upon that interpretation (including men's rights to religious freedom). From every perspective, the only real option on the table is to support women and their families in this non cost-sharing way.
President Obama and Governor Romney were presented with these facts before given opportunity to endorse either the ACA (which secures 7 other vital women's preventive health services) or the Blunt Amendment. President Obama fought for the Women's Amendment, while Governor Romney endorsed the Blunt Amendment (more recently dodging the question under pressure) and vows to "kill it (the ACA) on day one" of his hoped presidency.
Women's rights aside -- as much as these rights deserve respect and investment -- women have made it known they are for Obama. But it must be bluntly understood, women are for men, too.
See you at the polls.