I’m one of the fortunate ones, who has a job and health insurance, and the ability to walk into a pharmacy and purchase three months of birth-control pills for my wife for about $4 out-of-pocket.
But that’s not the situation for everyone in this country, especially those who really should have access to this and other birth control methods at low cost, like the impoverished who cannot afford yet another mouth to feed, or who — God forbid — don’t want to burden federal and state welfare rolls.
In a country with a constitutionally protected right to reproductive freedom, that freedom is under assault today at the state and federal levels through the continued defunding and attempts to defund Planned Parenthood and similar supposedly partisan programs.
Yes, I’m going there, but not quite yet.
I was shocked to read the other morning that since the New Hampshire legislature stopped funding Planned Parenthood this year the cost of birth control for the poor and uninsured went from $5 to $100, a 1,900 percent cost increase.
On a monthly basis, that’s a price hike most gainfully employed people making the median income for a given state and county would have trouble coming up with. That’s the difference in making a car or mortgage payment for some, and the difference in eating for the month for just as many; in this day, maybe more.
New Hampshire’s lower-income women are not alone. The story is the same in North Carolina, Indiana, Tennessee, Kansas and Wisconsin.
Earlier this year the House passed a bill that would have stripped federal funding of Planned Parenthood, but that effort was blocked by the Senate. Of course this started out as a way to stop government-funded abortion, but there is already a federal law that does that. Most House reps and senators already knew this, but at the time this was more of a test of muscle by the newly minted Tea Party politicians to see what exactly they could get away with.
All of these decisions at the state level are happening along the same ideological and theological lines, with what seems to be a blind eye and a dim wit by conservative lawmakers to the U.S. Constitution.
It’s understood there is no specific constitutional guarantee that allows access to birth control or condoms or HIV tests or breast cancer screenings, or any of the things the House threatened to end in its attempt to blackball the “LensCrafters of Big Abortion,” whatever that means.
Planned Parenthood, however, is the intended collateral damage in a multi-front war by the Tea Party and evangelicals on Roe v. Wade, a national obsession for conservative politicians and their far-right base.
With the federal battlefield all but closed until a Republican president is elected and the balance of power is shifted on the Supreme Court, the fight is going on in state capitals in a way that hasn’t been seen before.
Attacking Planned Parenthood has no direct effect on Roe v. Wade or abortion, but it assaults and undermines the spirit of reproductive justice and a woman’s right to choose by aiming the big guns at those without the means to find an alternative.
The poor seem to be used as pawns in a lot of different ways for a lot of different reasons. It’s about time we all wake ourselves up to this fact. Social justice doesn’t just happen for the people who can afford it.
Ultimately, this issue seems a lot like trying to topple a 350-pound man by whacking him in the legs with a stick. It doesn’t do much at first, but it will wear him down over time.
Fortunately, after 20 or so whacks, fatty will notice and hopefully stomp on that Republican … I mean, that kid with the piñata stick.