Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Birth control debate about health, not premarital sex

The government based on separation of church and state has found out its relationship with the Catholic Church just the opposite. It’s Barack Obama vs. Pope Benedict XVI in the arena of contraception.

Obama’s decision to include birth control within health insurance coverage was immediately met with religious backlash, particularly from the Catholic Church. This backlash, sourced from strong opinions and emotions about the subject of contraception, has been under intense political and religious discussion.

The political decision stemmed partially from goals of preventing unwanted pregnancy and abortions. Also, the idea of making more things available to more people, despite cost, is a constant goal for our current president.

Yet the criticism from conservatives, Republicans and interest groups has been so overwhelming, the Obama administration has used the past few days to revisit and apparently reconsider their original decision.

Pre-marital sex and the need for contraception plays a notorious role in the Catholic Church, as well as the beliefs of other conservative foundations. Understandably, many find the Obama administration’s decision and role in controlling birth control as an oversight of power, playing an unnecessary role in the private lives of Americans.

Republican Rick Santorum said birth control “costs just a few dollars,” questioning the need for birth control to require health insurance attention. Georgia Representative Tom Price argued his case, asking for proof of “one woman who has been left behind” and denied birth control because of cost.

Despite their completely different views about female birth control, Obama, the Pope, Santorum and Price all have one thing in common: They are all men. This is a woman’s conversation, but look at whom it’s being dominated by.

First of all, Santorum and Price have undoubtedly been scolded for the lack of fact checking. Birth control is expensive. One month of pills costs, on average, $70. There are different brands, types and deals – one deal for example: If you are a UA student, you can get Loestrin from the Student Health Center for $10 a month, but without health insurance, women could spend almost $900 per year on contraception.

Secondly, 99 percent of women use some form of contraception. And many within this percentage are influencing their hormones for reasons other than sex. Birth control is often prescribed as a solution to acne, cramps or emotional instability. Birth control should not instantly be associated with “pre-marital sex.”

But most importantly, these men should not be the voice of a decision that they cannot relate to. Men are not pressured with the responsibility of carrying a potential child. The fear of pregnancy is not uncommon, especially among young women. And whether this fear may source from family standards, religious pressures or shame, a surprise pregnancy for a young woman not in a set, monogamous relationship will face pressures of negative criticism. Even a disregard for marriage, society’s expectations or even complete disregard for the opinions’ of others will not protect a pregnant, single woman from judgment. We’ve all read the Scarlet Letter: Things don’t change too much. There are enough stories like this to fill a bookshelf.

How important is birth control to Obama, Santorum or Price? Personally? Probably not that much. But politically? Probably a lot. Birth control has become another platform used to battle on, another reason to disagree with Obama and another attempt to win votes over issues that will have no residual effect in American history.

Men, obviously, are detrimental in the pregnancy process. But the responsibility ultimately falls on women. And this is not only because of our reproductive organs, but also because of the “mother” role society places on females. So, if it’s our responsibility, then it should be our decision.

If birth control is covered by health insurance, then more women are able to make that decision for themselves. Contraception coverage is not a religious issue; it is a political one that carries religious opinion. And in a nation that requires truth from our politicians and claims separation of church from state, stretching the truth and religious reasoning should not be considered a sufficient argument.

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