Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

"Extremely Loud and Incredibly Gross": Rush Limbaugh and Birth Control

Last night on The Daily Show, in a segment called "Extremely Loud and Incredibly Gross," John Stewart discussed the issues surrounding the comments made by Rush Limbaugh on his radio show in regards to Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown University law student.

Limbaugh, a staunch conservative, called Fluke a "slut" and a "prostitute," all because she wants her contraception to be covered by her health insurance. In addition, he stated,
So, Miss Fluke, and the rest of you Feminazis, here's the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it. We want you to post the videos online so we all can watch.
Vile as that is, can we even be surprised? As Stewart points out, this sort of disgusting commentary is what Limbaugh is notorious for. What's unfortunate - and disturbing - is that his views are not as far from the norm as we might like to think, thus creating the raging debates about birth control currently fascinating the nation.

So what's all the fuss? Well, birth control is very, very expensive. Uterus-owners can find a handy calculator here, which asks for your age and preferred method of birth control, and then tells you how much you are likely to spend on contraceptives over the course of your child-bearing years, both with and without insurance. According to the calculator, Fluke, who is 30 years old, can expect to pay $34,699 out-of-pocket over the course of the next twenty-one years (the calculator assumes the age for menopause to be 51) if her insurance won't cover the costs. If her insurance would choose to cover birth control, the out-of-pocket cost could be brought down to $6,165, a much more manageable figure.

So is it really that unreasonable for Fluke - a student, and we all know that students don't exactly have a lot of money to spare - to want some help with this cost? Many who oppose birth control coverage seem to feel that this money would be coming out of their personal taxes - that their money would be paying for Fluke (and others like her) to get birth control, and in turn that they would be paying for Fluke to have sex. Such lines of thinking are precisely how we end up with people like Limbaugh calling Fluke a prostitute. In fact, it has nothing to do with taxes, because insurance is still private, but even if it did, as Stewart points out, we all pay for things we don't necessarily condone via our taxes. That's just the way it works. In addition, it should be noted that even with the expense of birth control being as high as it is, it's still cheaper than having a kid - a cost that the general public certainly wants no part of helping the individual with.

Limbaugh's claim that Fluke must be having "so much sex she can't afford the contraception," is the result of the absurd misconception that likens paying for birth control to paying each time someone has sex; women don't buy medically-prescribed birth control each time they have sex, and birth control costs don't vary depending on how often one actually has sex - it still needs to be taken every day in order to be effective. Limbaugh's statements, therefore, are not merely blown-out-of-proportion version of the truth, as some might want you to believe. They are entirely wrong, founded on narrow-minded views and misconceptions about women, sexuality, and birth control.

Birth control is part of the larger issue of women's health care, as Stewart points out. Another thing to be noted - women who want their birth control covered by their own insurance, not the government (yet another strange misconception people seem to have). They are not asking to have it for free, and the expense of others, but to have help paying for it from the insurance they already contribute to. Whether using birth control as contraception or to help with other health issues, it doesn't matter - as a medication prescribed by a doctor, it should be covered by insurance, because that's the very purpose of paying for insurance in the first place.

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