2012-02-24 / Letters

It’s Not About Women’s Health

Dear Editor,

Over the last few decades, certain hotbutton issues (abortion, gun control, etc.) have driven otherwise reasonable people to espouse illogical and divisive arguments. Joan Mettler’s rambling letter on “Women’s Reproductive Health” is an unfortunate example of this.

Ms. Mettler’s letter spewed clichés (“barefoot and pregnant”), silly battleof the-sexes references and standard right-wing-conspiracy theories. Unfortunately it lacked reason and was very weak on the facts. Even the title was deceptive.

For the vast majority of people –women and men – contraception isn’t a health issue; it’s a matter of family planning and/or convenience ... as in, having a baby would mess up my life. One can make a fair argument that the government has no place forcing health insurers to pay for a non-health-related treatment. The Church has an incredibly strong first amendment argument that forcing them to provide such coverage against doctrine is unconstitutional.

No matter how you feel about either of these arguments, this isn’t men telling women how to live their lives. It’s people – women and men – saying, I don’t want to pay for your contraception.

(And by the way, the “little blue pill” is prescribed to address a health ailment, which is why it is covered by health insurance and male contraceptives are not.)

Of course contraceptives do fail and that often leads to post-conception contraception, a.k.a. abortion. Let’s be honest, most abortion decisions aren’t about “health.” They are about convenience ... as in, having a baby would mess up my life. I don’t doubt that many of these parents – women and men – face tough circumstances and gut-wrenching personal decisions. However, these aren’t health decisions and that, in part, is why most abortions are not covered by Federal health programs like Medicaid.

Planned Parenthood conducts about 40 percent of the abortions in the United States each year, not 3 percent. That works out to more than 300,000 annually. For people who believe all human life is sacred, Planned Parenthood is morally repugnant, even though the other 97 percent of their services address a wide variety of woman’s health issues.

About half the country is “pro-life” and that’s not just the male half of America. Regardless of how these people feel about overturning Roe v. Wade, they – women and men – have a right to demand that their tax dollars do not pay for an elective procedure that terminates a life. (By the way, Roe v. Wade was decided by nine men.)

It is so insultingly simplistic to frame abortion debate as “men telling women how to live their lives.” Constitutionally, abortion involves the collision of two of our most fundamental rights: the right to control our own bodies and the right to life. This is the most difficult issue of our time, unless you think abortion is equivalent to any other elective surgery and/or you adopt the morally-repugnant position that the right to life does not begin before birth.

These are difficult issues of conscience for all Americans. They aren’t simple man vs. woman, ultra-conservative vs. ultra-liberal, us vs. them issues. Serious issues demand serious discussion. It would help if intelligent people (like Ms. Mettler) of all political persuasions would make an extra effort to get the facts right and avoid divisive rhetoric.

PAUL KING

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