Opinion

It's time to end the war on birth control | Amy Johnson

It’s Women’s History Month, and I’m fed up with the war on birth control.

How many of you are actually opposed to birth control? Making this a major campaign and budget issue is illogical and immoral.

For example, the Washington state Legislature recently completely decimated family planning budgets. Family planning will be cut by 93 percent ($6 million reduction in the $6.45 million fund), even though we know that for every dollar cut, it costs the state $4 in pregnancy and health-related costs — within the same year. What’s logical about that?

Following the passage of this ridiculous budget, I received a passionate statement from Tracey Eide (D-Federal Way), the Senate floor leader, who said: “Tonight, I believe a partisan personal agenda has been placed above the well-being of the public. Washingtonians indeed have much to be disappointed about with this circumvention of our open legislative process."

Thank you, Sen. Eide. What’s moral about placing partisan politics above the public’s well-being?

To those of you who say, “I’m not against birth control, I just don’t want to pay for anyone else’s,” I say: “That’s how insurance works.”

If we’re on the same insurance plan and your kid breaks his arm or sprains her ankle playing soccer, some of my money pays for their care. When one of us gets pregnant, all of us pay for prenatal care and delivery to be covered.

One way or the other, we’re going to pay. When family planning budgets are cut, clinics close. When clinics close, people, especially low-income and unemployed people, lose access to birth control, so its use is reduced. They get pregnant more.

And for perspective, last time I checked, it was a heck of a lot cheaper to pay for birth control than to fund a pregnancy, let alone what it costs to get that baby to age 18.

When clinics close, people also get sick more. They don’t get tested for STDs because it’s too expensive, which increases the spread of those diseases.

They also get more cancer because screenings for breast, cervical and testicular cancer are not covered. And all of that gets passed on to us in higher costs for health care because emergency rooms and Medicaid become the only way people can receive care.

Not only that, but poor prenatal care is associated with many costly medical, educational and social conditions after a child is born. Paying for those ought to be fun, considering the equally devastating cuts to education and public safety just made.

So really, it’s pay a little now, or pay a lot later. Always has been, always will be.

I’m calling on all the short-sighted politicians who decimated the services to family planning, education and public safety. I'm calling on all the voters who refused proposed income strategies — all of you who have chosen to balance the budget on the backs of women and economically disadvantaged residents. It’s time for some creative income strategies.

How about a simple use tax? A new spin on the idea that when you have sex, you pay. I propose a hefty tax on erectile dysfunction drugs, which somehow continue to be covered by most insurance plans. There are hard choices to be made, after all.

Yeah, it’s women’s history month, all right. Let’s go, ladies. It’s time to rally and get ourselves and our bodies back to the future.

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