What happens when you fail to define contraception as normal healthcare

Saturday, March 3rd, 2012 · 28 Comments »

This is a follow-up to this post: People who have been warning about slippery slope for years unable to recognize slippery slope.

As the wingnuts explode into a misogynistic frenzy over birth control, comparing it to things like gym memberships and demanding that women post sex tapes of themselves online in exchange for having their pills covered, I am wishing more than ever that the Obama Administration hadn’t caved on the basic status of contraception. No, I’m not blaming the Administration for the current GOP freakout or the obscene woman-hating of people like Rush Limbaugh; I’m just saying that it would be a hell of a lot easier to fight this crap if they’d held the line on contraception being normal healthcare. You know, the way it was under the EEOC ruling from 12 fricking years ago. The way it was under established law.

Because now, incredibly enough, we find ourselves in the position of actually having to explain that birth control pills are just normal medical prescriptions and not, say, gold-plated magic beans from Mars whose only purpose is to give you a buzz.

On the other hand, maybe it’s good to rehearse in public the basic explanations of how insurance works and what normal healthcare involves. Because people are morons, and if you ever doubt that for a second, just watch Bill O’Reilly and contemplate his ratings.

So here are a few basics:

  1. Taxpayers aren’t paying for Sandra Fluke’s healthcare or anybody else’s healthcare at Georgetown. It’s a private insurance plan and the people who are paying the premiums are the ones footing the bill. This is true with all employer-sponsored plans. And anything contributed by the employer is part of the employee’s compensation. (Student plans also fall into this category: the students pay premiums, and any subsidization by the university is part of student aid and ultimately covered by tuition.)
  2. Insurance works by providing a pool of coverage for everybody in the plan. My insurance plan, to which I contribute substantial premiums, is right now paying for some guy’s Viagra as well as for somebody’s prostate exam, even though I personally have no use for those things. That’s just how it works.
  3. Insurance normally covers all kinds of medical expenses connected with sex and other voluntary activities. Bill O’Reilly complains that “men’s activities” aren’t covered, but they are. If men want Viagra so they can have sex, insurance covers it. If they get gonorrhea or syphilis or crabs from having sex, insurance covers it. If they get AIDS from having sex, insurance covers it. If they want to go skiing and need a cardiac stress test first, insurance covers it. If they need Diamox so they can go skiing in Aspen, insurance covers it. If they break their legs skiing, insurance covers it. If they need Simvastatin to lower their cholesterol because they won’t stop eating fatty food and red meat, insurance covers it. If they suffer a heart attack from all that fatty food and red meat, insurance covers it. If they need a nicotine patch to quit smoking, insurance covers it. If they get lung cancer because they won’t quit smoking, insurance covers it. And on and on and on.

    Does this mean that men are being paid to have sex, to ski in Aspen, to eat sausage, to smoke or not smoke? No.

Women’s contraception is the only medication associated with normal human activity that is described as some kind of weird off-the-wall thing that shouldn’t be covered by insurance. The only one. And we know why.

And a couple of more basics, for the idiot men who don’t understand birth control pills:

  1. Pills are systemic hormones that have to be taken every single day. You don’t take a pill when you’re going to have sex, and you don’t take more or less of them depending on your sexual activity. You take them every single day of your life regardless; that’s how they control your body’s hormonal rhythm.
  2. Pills are taken for all kinds of reasons in addition to contraception. Women and girls experience numerous medical conditions related to their reproductive hormones—everything from acne to ovarian cysts—for which the birth control pill is standard treatment.

28 Responses to “What happens when you fail to define contraception as normal healthcare”

  1. Historiann says:

    Brilliant. Thanks for offering this primer.

  2. Cyn says:

    This is becoming maddening! What in the world is wrong with people? Can no one think for themselves? Must they be spoon fed reality on a daily basis?

    I had a horrible experience today with with a obot, a woman, who advised me Obama did the right thing in caving to the bishops. She advised me that the nuns stood up to the bishops, big time, over the health care act – that our beloved Pres was trying to return the favor to the nuns. Really? She also told me that birth control is now REQUIRED to be covered. So we’re not only holding our ground – we’re moving forward.

    Needless to say, we had a parting of the ways. But not before she called me a Nader supporter and a sanctimonious purist.

    It’s a jungle out there.

  3. Violet Socks says:

    The Obama Administration’s failure to defend birth control as normal healthcare is one of the most eyebrow-raising things they’ve done. Why did they announce first that it would be covered, but then fail to explain in public that this was already law? That the EEOC had been enforcing this standard for 12 years? That the weight of legal opinion (including from the Supreme Court) was solidly behind it? Why? Why not stand up to the bishops? Hell, why not even stand up to Chris Matthews? Why was there NO public defense or even explanation of BC as normal healthcare from the Administration?

    Instead, Obama is relying on public ignorance of the law in order to make it look like his “rescue” of birth control was a move forward. When in fact it’s a move backward.

    It’s ironic to me that people like Amanda Marcotte think that Obama did all this deliberately, but they’re happy about it. We’re really through the looking glass when self-described feminists are actually cheering on a substantive rollback of women’s rights because it makes Obama look good to an ignorant public.

  4. roofingbird says:

    Arrggh. Reality is perception through the 140 spaces of a tweet on a 3″ screen.

    Thanks for your efforts Violette!

  5. SophieCT says:

    This is an excellent post.

    Their logic is flawed on so many levels, one hardly knows where to begin.

    I’m a Lesbian, so I’m no authority on how these things work, but I thought that women who took BC to prevent pregnancy were doing so because they were having sex with men. So, if the public were paying for women to have sex by paying for their birth control, the public would simultaneously be paying for men to have sex.

  6. Violet Socks says:

    Well here’s some good news: Carbonite finally drops Limbaugh. About damn time.

    That fucktwit needs to be taken off the air.

  7. Mictlantecuhtli says:

    Good post.

    @Sophie – apparently men want all the children that might come of this – ? or I don’t know what. The logic is so weird. I know someone young who wants more children and her husband thinks they have enough and should use birth control. It will be cheaper than college for more kids, he claims. Hm.

  8. Mictlantecuhtli says:

    Also. It is just so weird. When I was younger than I am now, men were more logical. My father and grandfathers were more logical, for that matter.

  9. cgeye says:

    (Columbus) -State Senator Nina Turner (D-Cleveland) announced legislation today that would protect men in Ohio from the risks of PDE-5 inhibitors, drugs commonly used to treat symptoms of impotence. Turner’s legislation would include provisions to document that the symptoms are not psychological in nature, and would guide men to make the right decision for their bodies. Physicians would be required to obtain a second opinion from a psychological professional to verify that a patient has a true medical malady before the medication could be prescribed.

    “The men in our lives, including members of the General Assembly, generously devote time to fundamental female reproductive issues–the least we can do is return the favor,” Senator Turner said. “It is crucial that we take the appropriate steps to shelter vulnerable men from the potential side effects of these drugs.”


    Also, putting every neighborhood and organized black market seller of Viagra on the DEA target list would put a crimp on its use as a recreational drug — and adding Rohypnol and GHB to the mix probably would make college women safer, overall, from sexual assault from the fratbourgoisie….

  10. anna says:

    Here’s a petition to fire Rush: http://www.petitiononline.com/Limbaugh/petition.html

    It needs way more signatures and exposure.

  11. tinfoil hattie says:

    3. Women are allowed to fuck as many men as they want to, even if none of them are you, Rush Limbaugh and Bill O’Reilly. They deserve unfettered access to the birth control of their choice, solely for this purpose.

    4. Even more horrifying, millions of women have sex with other women! Or with nobody at all! They, however, deserve unfettered access to hormonal contraception for a host of ills that are none of anyone’s business.

    I do blame Obama. He is anti-woman. If he gave one freaking whit about women other than protecting his daughters’ “purity,” he would have fought, and fought HARD, for women from the moment he was sworn in.

  12. Susan says:

    It’s not just men. Conservative sites are full of women calling sexually active women sluts and whores. How did we get here?

    Hillary would never have offered up the very essence of women’s rights, the right to control our bodies, on a silver platter, as Obama has done.

  13. anna says:



    Scroll down to sign. Thanks.

  14. ugsome says:

    I think this business is also a result of women making it known they are fed up with being beaten with the Roe stick every four years. The Democratic Party still has to beat its bitch into submission every election, though, so now it’s contraception.

  15. gxm17 says:

    Sadly, I think ugsome is right. Which is why I walked away and why I’m still voting Green despite all the fear tactics of the progbots. As, I’ve learned, is my daughter. She says she hopes enough people wake up that the uni-party donkeyphant is put out to pasture. That’s a mighty high hope, but one I’m happy to share. I will vote for down ticket Democratic women but the rest can go fly a kite. (Kiss my ass, Tim Kaine!)

    I, too, blame Obama. He rode into DC on a wave of woman-hate and his prog-droog doodz (droodz?) have done nothing but fan the flames of misogynistic hate for the last four years. He played the same tactic with Stupak. This is not an aberration or mistake, it is the anti-woman ideology of his administration and his followers. Things will not get better. They will get worse. There is no better on the horizon.

    Great post, as usual, Violet.

    The notion that male is the default is a cultural tenet. Sex is for men, just like everything else in the world is for men. Women are just weird, sub-human, replaceable appendages. We are disposable. If there was one thing I learned in 2008, it was how many people’s minds have been poisoned (to the point of no return) by this terrible doctrine.

  16. Violet Socks says:

    I don’t think Obama’s tactic is to “fan the flames” of misogyny; I think his tactic (as President) is just to not do anything about it. As Liss at Shakesville was saying the other day (and has said many times), he just never stands up for women, never draws a line in the sand.

    I think his game is to let the right wing expose itself in all its misogynistic glory, and thus benefit by comparison. In other words, the worse the Republicans are (and they are), the better the Democrats look in comparison.

    Which very neatly lets the Democrats off the hook for ever having to actually do anything to defend, much less advance, women’s rights.

    Hm. Seems to me I wrote a whole essay about this four years ago.

  17. Violet Socks says:

    And speaking of rightwing misogyny: yes, this really is who they are. It’s like old home week. Reminds me of the Clinton era.

    I just read this at LGF: http://littlegreenfootballs.com/article/40014_Pamela_Geller_Spews_Hatred_at_Sandra_Fluke-_Banging_It_Five_Times_a_Day

    Pretty amazing. I’ve never read Pamela Geller, so I don’t know if this is a new departure for her or what.

  18. Adrienne in CA says:

    Geller is a practised hate-monger. She made a name fanning the flames of Islamophobia around the “ground zero mosque” furor.

  19. Violet Socks says:

    This is a good post: http://zunguzungu.wordpress.com/2012/03/03/the-deep-resentment-of-having-to-think-about-it-rush-limbaugh-and-sandra-fluke/

    I’ve never read that guy before. That’s a good post.

  20. Violet Socks says:

    Re Geller: yeah, I knew she was heavily into the “beware of jihad” kind of thing. But the woman-hating stuff—has that always been part of her shtick? Calling women whores and sluts and luridly embroidering on how much sex the “slut” is having and all that? And her commenters openly hoping the “slut” gets genitally mutilated?

  21. HeroesGetMade says:

    This most recent collective fugue state (Thanks, Violet!) on the part of patriarchy supporters has led to a couple of thoughts:

    - The patriarchy is at a tipping point, so teh crazey has been unleashed kinda like a non-swimmer being thrown in deep water, thrashing about for all they’re worth prior to sinking. Women are gaining ground in half of everything that matters, from higher education to basic employment; patriarchy supporters sense the end is nigh and are beginning to thrash for all they’re worth, which is not a whole helluva lot.

    - Back in the day, watching part of some dinosaur flick, Walking with Dinosaurs, with the boy child, a weird ‘click’ happened. The flick showed some re-enactment of a teradactyl mating ritual on a rock-strewn beach wherein the strongest jousting teradactyls got snatched up by the females for mating. This struck me as the natural order of things, which patriarchy was invented to subvert. The natural order ensures strong genes are passed on to propagate the species, whereas all other orders, including patriarchy, tend to degrade the whole species (Thanks, Twisty!). At the end of the flick was a chilling scene where this old teradactyl was beaten and bruised in the jousting for mates, and was literally washed up on the rocky beach, left behind to die, since his existence no longer served any purpose. The boy child was struck with horror at this scene, and I comforted him with the thought that humans have evolved so as to make themselves useful in various ways beyond being someone’s mate, so such a thing never need happen to people in modern times. But then, I had the thought that some people are not so evolved, and that’s one reason why some cling to patriarchy so bitterly.

    The man panel on birth control, and Rush himself, recently reminded me of the washed up teradactyl, and how they’re thrashing wildly against the natural order of women choosing the most suitable mates to propagate the species. Rush and the man panel know they’ll never get selected to propagate the species if women have any say, so they’re thrashing. Every time one of them sinks, I think we should throw a big party and gloat. Possibly thrashing voodoo dolls should be involved.

  22. Nessum says:

    Glad you linked to zunguzungu, Violet. He’s good ! And highly intelligent.

    I was directed to his site during the Assange controversy when he was a welcome, albeit unique, sane voice in the cacaphony of woman bashing and woman hating. As you can read in the “update” on his “about me” page, I wasn’t the only one. ;-)

    Back then is also when I learned about Pamela Geller. Vicious and unhinged, apparently hating women and muslims alike. Even justifying the horrible, horrible massacre at Utøya, Norway last year. Can’t get much more deplorable in my view.

  23. Nessum says:

    Please Violet, can you “fish” me out of moderation, thanks.

  24. tinfoil hattie says:

    As Liss at Shakesville was saying the other day (and has said many times), he just never stands up for women, never draws a line in the sand.

    I laugh the bitter, mirthless laugh of the hardened old feminist at this. She disinvited from her site several of us who questioned her adoration of Obama when he won the election. We questioned his loyalty to women; she and her minions attacked us for it. She smoked the Hopium, big-time. To now pretend she is shocked – shocked! at his misogyny is laughable.

  25. gxm17 says:

    Violet, I was unclear. The Stupak “tactic” I refer to is Obama’s Trojan horse game. He is destroying women’s rights from the inside out. I think his tactics are doing more actual damage to reproductive rights than a Rush Limbaugh bobble-head could ever dream of. Rush is as ridiculous as he is repugnant; his anti-woman propaganda show is just the cheering section for Obama’s insidious legislation. But I have to admit they make a damn effective tag team.

    Obama’s prog-doodbro droogs (aka obots) are, IMO, a bunch of misogynist shits who get all indignant and huffed up about idiots like Rush but who do absolutely nothing to actually support women’s rights much less fight for them. And in my book, their sexist indifference and arrogance cuts just a deep as Retro Rick’s sexist sanctimony which at least has the decency to attack us face on. Women are surrounded by the enemy, stuck between back-stabbing progressive misogynists and frothing right wingnut misogynists. And there are no feminist supermen coming to save us.

  26. Violet Socks says:

    Even justifying the horrible, horrible massacre at Utøya, Norway last year.

    Holy shit. See, the reason I was asking about Geller is because the only thing I knew about her was that she was rabidly anti-Islam, and my understanding from seeing quotes from her was that one of her things was the oppression of women. I can’t remember the exact quote, because it was ages ago, but the gist was something like “American civilization will protect me and other women from those awful woman-hating Muslims and that’s why we should nuke the entire Middle East.” Or words to that effect.

    So to see her actually engaging in precisely the same kind of woman-hating herself, and even having commenters call for the genital mutilation of unacceptable women, is unusually transparent. Usually the wingnuts try harder to conceal the fact that deep down they are identical in outlook to the most fundamentalist Islamic godbag you could possibly find. I mean, we all know they’re the same, that Jerry Falwell = Ayatollah, etc., but they usually aren’t so obvious about it. At least not the women like Geller, who make a point of pretending that their big beef with Islam is women’s rights.

    And now you tell me that she was also cheering on the Norway attacks? I guess because we need rightwing terrorists to inflict terrible casualties in order to lead the struggle (somehow) against Muslim terrorists who might otherwise inflict…terrible casualties.

    Okay, that’s it. I don’t think Pamela Geller is real. She’s got to be somebody’s art school performance project.

  27. quixote says:

    gxm17: sexist indifference and sexist sanctimony cut just as deep.

    Exactly. Exactly, exactly, exactly.

    Except I’m not sure it’s indifference. Crap that happened during the campaign, and Stupakistan, and the Plan B cowardice, and handing birth control decisions to the Red Beanie Boyz, isn’t indifference. It’s using sexism to advance yourself.

    And it’s way more effective than the in-your-face, out-there sanctimony.

  28. Nessum says:

    Violet, I’m afraid she is. Real. Though, more like surreal.

    And to counter her opinion on the victims in Oslo and at Utøya (as if it was necessary!), take a look at these beautiful – and at this point still vibrant – people, the majority still in their teens, and tell me how anyone, anyone can say, or even think, that their brutal death was justified.