By Atticus Lee • March 16, 2012•Writers in Residence
We interrupt our regularly scheduled programming to bring you breaking news of Arizona's newest victory in the unconscionable conservative contraception crazy-off of 2012.
From Rush Limbaugh's ad hominem attacks on Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke (and her victorious rebuttal) to Mittens' schizophrenia on whether he thinks women have fundamental rights, this election year has morphed into a horror movie carnival where we kidnap the land-owning, wage-earning women of 2012 and lock them back into the medieval chastity belt.
You may have heard this week that Arizona's House of Representatives passed House Bill 2625, requiring women who want their health insurance to cover their contraception to prove to their employer that they are taking contraception to treat a medical problem (sadly, hysteria is not such a problem). This bill also facilitates Arizona employers who want to fire a woman who uses contraception for contraceptive purposes. Pending a vote in the state Senate, the passage of this bill into law means that women who want their insurance policies to cover contraception costs must submit evidence of a medical condition to be treated with birth control (such as endometriosis, where uterine tissue starts growing outside of the uterus, or polycystic ovarian syndrome).
(Recap: currently, health plans in AZ that cover prescription medications must cover contraception like the birth control pill. HB 2625 repeals the current law.)
A recent Guttmacher Institute study showed that only 14% of BC pill users (about 1.5 million women) rely on them for non-contraceptive purposes. Only 9% of birth control users are women who are not sexually active. The evidence suggests, shockingly, that maybe millions of women who take the pill are trying to prevent unwanted pregnancy.
So, for all you poor unfortunate souls in the 86% who live in Arizona, here are some medical conditions to start hypochondriac-ing to your doctor about (while we wait for someone to sue over the glaring constitutional problems of this potential law):
1. menstrual-related migraines
2. fibrocystic breast change (breast lumps that form during menstruation)
3. acne (nevermind that you've always had movie-star complexion - adult acne affects approximately 30% of women, so that means it's just prevention)
4. menstrual regulation (reducing the duration, severity, and other effects of menstrual cramps)
5. PMS! That's right, because oral contraceptive has been shown to mitigate the effects of PMS-related mood swings and homicidal urges, this qualifies as a medical condition that a woman would treat with hormonal contraception.
Most of all, what the debate over contraception has entirely ignored is the subgroup of lesbian, bisexual, and queer women who started the pill for menstrual regulation or to clear up their complexion, and remained on the pill because of the long-term benefits. This is especially true because the pill reduces women's risk of certain types of cancers that come with not birthing children (which is the case for some, but not all, queer women).
The pill, although notorious for scary recalls, repeated and egregious manufacture incompetence, and dreaded weight gain for some, also comes with health benefits. After just one year on hormonal birth control (which includes basically all prescription-based contraception except the Copper IUD), a woman lowers her risk of ovarian cancer by 10-12%. After 5 years on the pill, this risk is lowered by 50%. Hormonal birth control also prevents pelvic inflammatory disease, promotes bone growth and strength, and lowers the risk for uterine cancer and colon cancer.
By requiring evidence of a medical condition that necessitates hormonal contraception, this Arizona law would deny ALL women insurance coverage to prevent 3 types of cancer, lower risk of ovarian cysts and pelvic inflammatory disease, and a long list of healthful side-effects. It would also require conscientious, pro-women physicians to creatively report reasons for prescribing birth control.
It seems ironic that the women least likely to use contraception to prevent pregnancy (and thereby most loved by Republicans) are the society-fabric-unraveling, Satan-worshipping lesbians most condemned by upper-middle-class WASP heterosexual men like [insert 2012 Republican presidential nominee hopeful].