Over the last week, there have been a plethora of stories written by the press and shared by citizens regarding the ACA - the Affordable Care Act - ObamaCare. The ACA has afforded many people to get cancer treatments, cancer screenings, coverage for chronic conditions, coverage for preexisting conditions, free birth control, and so much more. Is the system perfect? Absolutely not. But the conversation has become so polarized. Since its inception, the GOP has been hellbent on repealing it but I've heard no talk about amending it.
20 million people who were previously uninsured now have insurance. Based on that number alone, its hard for me to imagine that our Representatives and our Senators want to pull the rug out from under 20 million people. On that I'll give them the benefit of the doubt.
But the conversation has turning into one of all or nothing it seems, with no talk of compromise. And this type of rhetoric has trickled down to the citizens of our country. There was a particular story that stuck with me this week where it seems to be most evident.
This week, a MLB player named Matt Garza responded to a tweet regarding birth control, stating that "abstinence is…the best contraception." While his statement is factual - it is very, very difficult to get pregnant if you abstain from sex - his statement is also incredibly dense. Yes, the ACA guarantees the coverage of essential health benefits and contraception. And while contraceptives do prevent pregnancies, they also do so much more.
I've been on long-term birth control for almost a decade now. I started with Depo-Provera when I was sixteen and switched over to Mirena when I was twenty-three. When I started taking Depo-Provera it was not to prevent pregnancy - it was to regulate my hormones. After puberty my hormone levels were imbalanced causing me to miss, on average, two days of school every month due to harsh PMS which caused migraines, vomiting, and cramping.
Ahhh - to be a woman.
As a married woman in my twenties, my birth control is now dual purposed in that it still regulates my hormones and prevents pregnancy. My husband and I love each other but we are not ready for kids right now. In Matt Garza's tweet, I'm going to guess that he was (poorly) trying to talk sex before marriage, as he has six children himself. He and his wife are probably using some form of family planning or he's only had sex six times. But those are assumptions.
So my question to him and people like him: What about me? Do I not deserve to be able to plan my family dynamics in a way that works for us? In a way that is both personally and societally responsible? Will you write a note to my company every month when I'm out sick for two days?
We need to change the way we think about healthcare in this country. When I called Speaker Paul Ryan's office (because I stand with Planned Parenthood), his message said that they are focused on creating "patient-centered healthcare." That's all fine and well. People aren't going to disagree with that rhetoric. But the rhetoric and the facts are contradictory. How can you have patient-centered healthcare when you're not guaranteeing necessary healthcare for 50% of all patients? A more accurate term might be "hetero-male centered healthcare."
I mean, would you remove coverage of a medicine that treats pulmonary arterial hypertension? Probably not, but I bet you there are plenty of people that might have complaints over that medication because that medication is called Viagra.
Contraceptive medicines do so much more than just prevent pregnancies. These medications have a drastic impact on quality of living and family planning. And whether you believe in using these medicines or not, every individual and family has the right to find the best solution for them.
So please, talk to your representatives, call Speaker Ryan and ask them not to remove funding for Planned Parenthood and ask them not to repeal ACA until they have a replacement that is truly patient-centered solution for all patients.