"My Basic Human Right to Birth Control"
“My Basic Human Right to Contraception”
That’s a phrase taken from Rachel Miller’s recent post about CVS acquiring Target Pharmacies (a move that resulted in her birth control prescription cost increasing from $9 to $29).
She explains the economical nuances of the merger well. I too am baffled why any prescription would cost more as a result of this corporate shift. But she lost me when referring to contraception as a “basic human right.”
Many things have established themselves as basic human rights over the course of history. Adequate food, water and shelter… clothing… health care… wearing socks with sandals, even if it makes everyone around you cringe. I could go on.
Somewhere around mid-20th century, women started rallying to add a new item to the list: a reliable option for spacing children. Which made sense. Infant mortality was way down, thanks to wonder drugs like penicillin and vaccines, so folks didn’t need to aim for 20 kids in order for 3 to survive to adulthood. (They also didn’t need to staff an entire farm with child labor anymore.)
So the request was reasonable.
The solution to that request also seemed reasonable... in its time.
But just like 1960’s bouffant hairstyles, we’ve moved beyond that. I'll explain.
I won’t bore everyone with a history lesson on the Rhythm Method. We’ve all heard the jokes:
What do you call Rhythm method users?
Feel free to laugh. I’ll wait.
For the sake of brevity (this post will be long enough as it is), I’ll skip a history lesson on the Rhythm Method’s origin and effectiveness. Instead, I’ll focus on present day, beginning with something truly amazing:
The Internet is a marvelous thing filled with rainbow-pooping cats and duck face selfies.
It also contains Information.
Some Information is reputable, helpful, and easy to interpret.
Some Information, though, is not these things.
When one types “natural family planning” into Google, the top result shows a melting-pot statistic. This is because The Internet, in its limited wisdom, lumps ALL natural methods – Rhythm, withdrawal, Cycle Beads, etc. – into a single method.
It’s like mixing too many Play-Dough colors. We all know what that leads to:
Is it Play Dough, or poo?
I can’t tell, just like I can’t tell from Google which natural
methods are rubbish.
Not surprisingly, women get scared off when they see this. (85-90% effectiveness? RUN!!!) And so they quickly close their browser window, faster than if they’d been watching… something NSFW.
That’s a real shame, because if they’d kept scrolling past the brown Play-Dough, they’d find much more encouraging Information about modern natural methods such as:
Creighton Model Method
Billings Ovulation Method
(All of which are 97-99% effective, and work just fine with irregular cycles.)
(None of these brands are blog sponsors. I just really dig them.)
So your next question will be: Julie, if all these are legit effective, why does my Ob-Gyn roll her eyes and tell me all natural methods are Rhythm?
Well, alert reader, I’m glad you asked. Institutions of higher medical learning are often funded by pharmaceutical companies. Professors receive research grants from those same companies. I know, I know, this is all too shocking, considering America is led by corporations and politicians that are never ever corrupt, and always have the public’s best interest at heart, even when it means losing profit or power.
So, med students are lucky if they hear “natural” methods mentioned at all, which is usually when their instructors dismiss it as “a religious thing.” (As if my body would function any differently if I were Buddhist, Jewish, or worshipped the Flying Spaghetti Monster.)
It’s 2016 out there.
Don’t we deserve better than 1960’s wisdom?
I mean, I’m all about the occasional retro polyester dress, but when it comes to my health, I expect more.
Are we really convinced that ingesting Class 1 Carcinogens, inserting metal springs and round glow sticks into our nether regions, and screwing up our pheromones is the best way to empower ourselves and take control of our bodies?
Just as with polyester, it’s high time we swap out the artificial for the natural.
When it comes down to it, birth control isn’t the basic human right women should be fighting to maintain. Taking authentic control of our bodies – and taking it back from the pharmaceutical companies – is.