ROSE NOLEN: Male Republicans desire control in women's rights issues

Tuesday, March 6, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CST

I marched for the first time on behalf of civil rights for minorities and women in the bloody year of 1968. Martin Luther King Jr. had been killed on April 4 of that year and Robert Kennedy had been assassinated the following June.

My son was 4 years old at that time, and it was very difficult to leave him, never knowing if I would get back home alive. But that was a part of the price to be paid for freedom. Everybody paid up, nobody complained and later, most of us just felt lucky we made it home one more night.

I marched many, many times after that and when the marching was over I promised I would alert every generation that social change must never be considered permanent. Every generation must fight to preserve the changes gained by the previous generation. Of course, with the passage of Roe v. Wade, women felt that they were home free and they would always have the right to choose in the matter of having children.

Well, here we go again. Male Republicans have once more taken up the role of attempting to manage women’s bodies. Last week an amendment was introduced in the U.S. Congress that would allow employers to opt-out of covering birth control medications (among other medicines)  for female employees if the insurance provider has a religious or moral objection to the dispensation. That amendment was defeated by a vote of 51-48.

It didn’t take a lot of nudging to get men to this point. They have been hanging on the edge for years waiting for the moment when they could feel justified in bringing this up. There's something about not having direct control over women’s bodies that drives them up the wall. They are having enough problems trying to manage tornadoes. The whole idea that anything could possibly exist on this earth over which they do not have control cannot be tolerated.

Young women, of course, are new to this process. They don’t understand that some men feel that women are not capable of making decisions about their bodies. A popular notion many men are attuned to is that women, having once been an oppressed group, are simply too virtuous to oppress others and therefore incapable of making nasty, indelicate decisions like whether or not to have babies. In other words, in order to be a sound decision-maker you have to have the mind of an oppressor.

If women are to defeat this current assault on their rights as people, they will have to organize and prepare to fight for justice. It’s the same old fight in a new arena. It is not that men don’t realize that they are infringing on the rights of women. They feel they are able to wear women down to the point where they will stop fighting and ultimately be convinced that men know best.

In my family, women have shared power for several generations. And all the women have always been prepared to take over leadership at any point, if it became necessary. My grandfathers were bricklayers and carpenters when young women learned to handle hammers and saws early in life. If the men were away on a job site and there was a job to be done, the women did it.

It’s too bad men can’t have babies. If so, we could all be spared the necessity of spending so many valuable hours fighting for our rights. We could be doing things like settling disagreements among nations, finding cures for major diseases, discovering new sources of energy, and solving all the problems men could have been working on if they hadn’t been so determined to manage women’s bodies.

I sincerely hope that this will be the final round of this struggle for the rights of women. Perhaps, but not likely, some men will rise up and tell their cohorts that enough is enough.

Do we have to start from scratch?

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at

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James Krewson March 6, 2012 | 7:23 a.m.

Please explain to me then what the purpose of Planned Parenthood is? From my understanding they provide FREE contraception for women. Why am I required to sacrifice my religious beliefs and be forced by government mandate to fund a lifestyle choice? All I could do is laugh while reading this column. If women want free birth control, direct them to Planned Parenthood please and away from my wallet. Thanks.

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Tony Black March 6, 2012 | 7:48 a.m.

Well said, Rosie. I was unaware of your past. It's people like you that make the world a better place. The biggest error in most mens view of this issue is that birth control pills are used for far more than just contraception. I know several women who are in their 40s & 50s, who use it for medical reasons, not to prevent pregnancy. The fact that it should be offered in a prescription plan has nothing to do with "free" birth control. Guarding their wallets is simply a ploy to avert from the truth. I ask a lot of questions on here which go unanswered by deflection. So tell me, why is Viagra ok, but the pill is not? Why should my money go for erections for old men? Of couse, I am educated enough to know that my money doesn't really pay for it. It just reduces overall rates by consolidating purchasing power, but that doesn't make for good ideaology, does it?

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Ellis Smith March 6, 2012 | 7:58 a.m.

@James Krewson:

My daughter has a saying that might apply: "If you subsidize something, you get more of it, whether that's a good thing or not." And that's generally true, regardless of the entity doing the subsidizing or what the specific subsidy might be.

Daughter is smart: she graduated from a Big Twelve university (which will not be named).

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Tony Black March 6, 2012 | 8:12 a.m.

So, more medication is a bad thing?

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Jimmy Bearfield March 6, 2012 | 8:19 a.m.

It's about choices: If you want everyone else to pay for your birth control, don't expect everyone else to pay for your child when you forget to use it, choose not to use it or it fails. That financial burden should fall entirely on you and the father, so choose him wisely.

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Greg Allen March 6, 2012 | 8:44 a.m.

I'd like to see more discussion about Ms. Nolen's point about oppression. I suspect that it's like 'white privilege': those with privilege merely by birth (race, gender) aren't aware of it because it's the norm. Don't challenge the norm, y'all! You'll upset the balance of power! What would it be like if those in power had to share power?

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Tony Black March 6, 2012 | 8:51 a.m.

I repeat, Jimmy, there is more involved than birth control. Or can you not get past that? It is about choices. A womans choice to recieve medication. Do you not know anyone who has used birth control pills to help with ovarian cysts, or anything like that? Again, it doesn't fit the narrative if you use facts, right?

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frank christian March 6, 2012 | 8:55 a.m.

T. Black - "So tell me, why is Viagra ok, but the pill is not? Why should my money go for erections for old men?" Most conservatives agree with your latter sentence and know the answer to to the former. If you do not, look at:

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Elaine Hartley March 6, 2012 | 9:00 a.m.

I am so very very tired of hearing and reading about people who don't want women to have access to birth control or health care in general because it is against their values or religious beliefs. They feel they should not have to pay for such services. Such costs are are a drop in the ocean of the costs of the wars which all US citizens are forced to pay for endlessly. Those wars are against my beliefs and against all my values. For all of my working and adult life I have been forced to fork over tax money to pay for foreign adventures of the US armed forces. I am sickened by the thought of all those all those wasted lives, both American and the citizens of the endless list of countries we have invaded, bombed, irradiated, blockaded, ad nauseum. We have squandered so many resources and opportunities to build a better more peaceful world it is mind boggling.

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Tony Black March 6, 2012 | 9:04 a.m.

Ok, Frank, so why didn't the Republican congress and president do away with this while they were in control? Where is the moral outrage? Because Viagra has true medical uses, just like birth control pills. The answer? It's for men, not women. Here, I'll beat you guys to it. Spoken like a true liberal, right? Equal rights for all? Shame on me.

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Jimmy Bearfield March 6, 2012 | 9:22 a.m.

"I repeat, Jimmy, there is more involved than birth control. Or can you not get past that? It is about choices. A womans choice to recieve medication. Do you not know anyone who has used birth control pills to help with ovarian cysts, or anything like that? Again, it doesn't fit the narrative if you use facts, right?"

Frank, most women who use birth control do so to avoid getting pregnant rather than as a form of hormone-replacement therapy. If that weren't the case, then the editorials, op-eds and letters to the editor about this topic wouldn't focus on "the right to choose in the matter of having children."

The bottom line is that whether it's Viagra or the pill, there's no free. It's amazing how many people gripe about having to pay $60/month on their own for the pill but don't blink at paying $70+/month for an iPhone.

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matt arnall March 6, 2012 | 9:41 a.m.

Unfortunately, there is no cure or pill for stupid.

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Gary Straub March 6, 2012 | 9:56 a.m.

OK ditto heads, try, if you can, imagining what this country would be like - or the world - if there were not easy access to birth prevention. Imagine each family being like Rick Santorum having 9 children. I realize that being a conservative requires one to resist change, but the need to " go forth and multiply" was overrun by 7,000,000,000+ humans on earth long, long ago. You think this affects your pocketbook, wait for that scenario to become reality. The most concerning problem today is too many humans, and your method - war - is not doing anything to solve the impending disaster.

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Michael Williams March 6, 2012 | 10:44 a.m.

Gary: I personally know of NO conservatives wishing for an elimination of birth control, although a scientific case can be made for elimination of the pill because of environmental concerns (peeing out ethinyl estradiol, a powerful feminizing agent).

Contrary to the ogres you think us to be, most conservatives simply want folks to exercise a bit of personal responsibility regarding their sexual lives...males and females alike. Screwing your way through life willy-nilly, and either making babies or aborting them, is simply not conducive to a civilized society.

But, if you DO decide to engage in such behavior, leave me out of it. You're on your own, babies and all, and I'll resist any efforts to get me involved financially or otherwise. YOU deal with the consequences of your own behavior, and I'll deal with mine.

What you are discussing is forcing religious people and organizations to provide something they do not believe in. Yes, it's "force" no matter how you look at it, and there will be civil and possibly criminal penalties if you don't comply. For liberals who claim support for freedom and liberty, this is a strange posture indeed. It's also strange there are folks who believe religion should stay out of politics, but politics can run amok in religion. I'll fight against the latter.

As for overpopulation, conservatives do not depend upon war as a method of birth control. We're well aware that disease will do the job all on its it has for centuries.

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mike mentor March 6, 2012 | 11:27 a.m.

Rose, I happen to know at least one women who is both a raging liberal and Catholic who does not think she should be forced to pay towards an insurance package that provides contraception, which by the way includes the morning after pill. She firmly believes that she will be forced to pay for murder. Believe it or not, there are many women who feel that way. There are also many pacifist, liberal, dedicated Catholics of both sexes who feel this way. Too bad an honest discussion about the topic seems to be too hard for you and you must lower the discussion to, I am women hear me roar, men vs women, liberals vs rich 'ol white republicans that have been too busy worrying about this day to manage their daily lives up to now. You argue, "We could be doing things like settling disagreements among nations, finding cures for major diseases, discovering new sources of energy, and solving all the problems men could have been working on if they hadn’t been so determined to manage women’s bodies." This argument is disingenuous at best and at worst it is a slap in the face to all those smart men and women who have worked in these fields. IMHO this piece sounds like it was written by Glenn Beck/Rush Limbaugh's bizarro world opposite. The opposite views using the same tired stereotypical sexist arguments to back them up.
What a joke...

You frame this as an attack on womens rights. Like somehow if it is not paid for by the fed government you no longer have that right. Not the way it works.

This is seen by many as an attack on their human rights. The "new" thing here is that people will be forced to pay for other peoples choices and not just their own. Those other people still have those choices available to them and no one is taking away those rights by simply arguing they shouldn't have to pay for them. Flat out, the morning after pill is mudering a child in many peoples opinion. So, they believe you are forcing them to pay for murder. I don't personally feel that way, but these are real people with real concerns about a very controversial topic. We would all do well to listen to each other.

We swallow greedily any lie that flatters us, but we sip only little by little at a truth we find bitter. ~Denis Diderot

Truth only reveals itself when one gives up all preconceived ideas. ~Shoseki

If women need hormone therapy for medical reasons it should be provided to them even if one of the side effects of their prescribed treatment is contraceptive. I would argue that shouldn't even be a part of the discussion. There are many drugs that have reproductive side effects and those are not called birth control and neither should "the pill" if it is being used as a hormonal therapy. IMHO...

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Ellis Smith March 6, 2012 | 12:35 p.m.

matt arnall:

If medication for stupidity did exist, would it be taken orally or rectally? After all, some people are referred to in the vernacular as "dumb asses."

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Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 6, 2012 | 12:35 p.m.

Michael: The same people you say are being "forced" to pay for someone else's contraception are the very people wanting to force women to carry their pregnancies to term and raise children they do not want--or can't afford to raise. Which one, in your view, is the bigger financial setback? Nevermind that the people who treat women as mere incubators would then deny them the help they need to raise the children--because "socialism" is the root of all evil and all. They would then proceed to whine and moan about the lack of concern these irresponsible parents have toward their kids, and about the kids themselves, what with them being raised with no values and work ethic and all. It's pretty convenient, isn't it?

"You're on your own, babies and all, and I'll resist any efforts to get me involved financially or otherwise. YOU deal with the consequences of your own behavior, and I'll deal with mine."

It would be awesome if you all practiced what you preach, because what you just said sounds an awful lot like a "life and let live" philosophy, which unfortunately is not to be found anywhere among the conservative/pro-life ranks.

"For liberals who claim support for freedom and liberty, this is a strange posture indeed."

For conservatives who claim support for small government and little intrusion into our lives, wanting to control women's reproductive freedoms is an equally strange posture.

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frank christian March 6, 2012 | 1:29 p.m.

These are the times when liberals really become pathetic. Tim B.,rather than admit B. Clinton's error (can no longer find his comment when he inserted Viagra into Medicaid, something like, "those ole boys deserve Some fun", nothing about medication). Tim jumps upon R's, whom were busy balancing Federal Budget, reducing the debt for 1st time in 30 years, removing anti-energy regs installed by D's over same period of time, for not rescinding the regulation. We know it has cost 2B$ over the last 2 years. Cost! Never included in a lib argument, but Gregg Allen needs to hear more about the "point about oppression". G. Straub cannot imagine R.Santorum as one who has a family of 9, because he wished to do so, or that with birth control, furnished like water except free there would still be families with many children. Birth control pills became available in U.S. in early 1960's. Legal abortion in 1970 and out of wedlock pregnancy began to soar. Gary believes this has occurred because neither of these deterrents to birth have been free, enough. Matt Arnall says, "Unfortunately, there is no cure or pill for stupid." Look around Matt, I'd say someone in your group has been passing them out.

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Ray Shapiro March 6, 2012 | 1:57 p.m.

Feminists make much to do about nothing today considering that they just can't rest on their laurels of accomplishments, some good and some bad changes in our culture, depending on one's opinion.
In my opinion, to vilify male Republicans on protecting employers from extending benefits to employers smacks of a Democrat Party Liberal Progressive agenda akin to a Federal Feminists Propaganda Union.
Access to birth control is already in place.
Federal program Title X has ensured that for the last forty years.
To beat up on male Republicans regarding employee/employer benefits in the private sector is a low blow to attract empathy from any uneducated, overly emotional female Republicans and foolish Independent voters & to solidify the Liberal Progressive Dems in attempting to reelect Obama.
There are more important issues. Let Obama stand on his record as President and Commander in Chief during the last few years. Personally, I hope Rose fails in her pitiful attempt to skew reality, not tell the whole story, equate civil rights with employee/employer benefit packages and feel entitled to private businesses to furnish her with whatever select medical plans she chooses.
Although Rush Limbaugh carried his words to the extreme in response to some aspiring woman attorney who feels entitled to cover an astounding $3,000 birth control expenditure as she is already strapped with college and other expenses, I would suggest that instead of demanding outrageous birth control coverage that she just opt something cheaper in the long run, less side effects then her supposed $3,000 a year birth control habit and just as effective in the "family planning" game.

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frank christian March 6, 2012 | 2:11 p.m.

Ms. Hartley - I too have become "worn out", reading and hearing from those complaining about necessary actions by our military instituted for the protection of our people. Actions agreed to by our Congress and not agreed to by UN because of promised veto by socialist President of socialist France, the now indicted J.Chirac who was too tied up in business with socialist Baathist leader Saddam Hussein.

I am sickened by those not willing to acknowledge the benefits of the freedom of those ME countries now able to Elect their own leaders and now proceed with lives certainly more "normal" than before, under the tyrants that ruled them. The defeat of Germany Italy and Japan led to a"better more peaceful world". So will this latest of Your "nightmares". Your mind may be "boggled", not mine.

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Tony Black March 6, 2012 | 2:39 p.m.

Sorry Frank, but you lost me. Who is Tim B.? are you saying he made the comment about having some fun, or Clinton? And what balanced budget are you talking about? The one where 2 wars were not included? The link you posted was from 2005, so I don't get your point. Republicans were in control in '05. And what cost 2B over 2 years? Viarga through Medicaid? Man, you are quick with the namecalling, but don't make a logical point. Go ahead. Call me some more names.

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Michael Williams March 6, 2012 | 2:55 p.m.

Jon: "wanting to control women's reproductive freedoms is an equally strange posture."

Conservatives don't want to control women's reproductive freedoms.

We want THEM and MEN to show some semblance of control over their own reproduction.

Then, and only then, are conservatives willing to come to the table about "help". You have to "try" first.

A pregnancy is much easier to control 9 months earlier, and it's financially cheaper on everyone, too. I do not understand folks who give up and say "Folk are going to do [put in whatever action you wish] anyway, so let's give them an out." My posture is there are consequences, good and bad, for any behavior we exhibit, and there shouldn't be many "outs". If you have kids, are you raising them without consequences?

In today's society, pregnancy for those who do not want to become pregnant should be a rarity. Given the cost and availability of birth control from a variety of sources, there is virtually no reason for becoming pregnant.

I find myself in the odd position of thinking more highly of the liberal brain, potential, and ability to control oneself than liberals do.

I do agree with your statement ""socialism" is the root of all evil".

Well, most all.

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Ellis Smith March 6, 2012 | 3:37 p.m.

Here's a nice rhetorical question. If you are being forced to pay for someone else, would you prefer to pay for contraception or abortion? Seems to me that's an easy choice, assuming you are forced to make a choice. Contraception is easier from either a moral and monetary standpoint.

Somebody once said that abortion in this country should be legal, safe and RARE. I agree with that, but I would like to see more of the "rare."

And now I'll go back to something I said in a post earlier today: when you subsidize anything you almost always get more of whatever you subsidize. So I'd rather spend money on birth control than abortions.

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Richard Saunders March 6, 2012 | 4:14 p.m.

Well, I see that divide and conquer is well alive in this thread. Kudos for Ms. Nolan and all like her who demand to be treated fairly while holding the loaded weapon of politics up to everyone else's head.

If you want a fair society, then learn to approach people on a voluntary level. Coming after others in mob fashion where the ideological "might is right" is the only thing that matters is no way to create a fair society, let alone a healthy one.

Everything you strive for by writing this, Ms. Nolan, is undermined by the conflict it generates. In other words, your actions work against your intentions, not in support of them. Don't believe me? Just look at the comments.

Conflict is not a method of building a community. All it does is to create warring factions that "strengthen their resolve" any time the "opposition" feels attacked.

Surely you know that feeling? The only thing I know to ask is, why do you resort to the violence of the political method, when there's so many other choices each day?

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frank christian March 6, 2012 | 4:24 p.m.

Tony Black - You are the one I erroneously referred to as "Tim B." Clinton made a statement about the "poor ole boys" when He decided Medicaid should pay for Viagra. R' controlled Congress produced balanced budgets and debt reduction 1997 thru 2000. Please don't start "Clinton did it!" War started 2001 and cost included in budgets after that,tho SS money was also included and reported publicly.

"the Clinton Viagra plan is expected to cost taxpayers $2 billion over the next 10 years, according to the New York Post". Payment for the drug began 1998. I intended to relate that we have now paid 2B$ since more than 10 years have elapsed. I did not do that. Sorry I caused a mix-up. I thought "pathetic" was a condition, not a name. if there is another "name", I apologize for both.

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Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 6, 2012 | 7:06 p.m.

Michael: "Conservatives don't want to control women's reproductive freedoms."

Yeah they do. Wanting to outlaw abortion is exactly that.

"We want THEM and MEN to show some semblance of control over their own reproduction."

Which women and men do via responsible sex and the proper use of contraception, both of which would occur more often if we did a better job educating people. Instead, the people wanting to outlaw abortion are the same ones promoting some fantasy world where kids don't desire sex (or even know what it is) until after they're married.

No one likes abortion, and a vast number of pro-choice women wouldn't have abortions themselves. But, until a better alternative comes along, it's a necessary evil. Ask any pro-choicer (who isn't an idiot) and they'll agree that putting an end to abortion is a worthwhile goal. So yeah, Ellis is absolutely right: Would you rather fund contraceptives or abortions?

"Then, and only then, are conservatives willing to come to the table about "help". You have to "try" first."

Hmmmn. I don't see them helping all the women who DO keep their pregnancies, nor do I see them donating money to adoption agencies, or increasing public awareness about all the kids out there who desperately need homes. Not only do conservatives oppose abortion, they oppose the very policies and programs that would discourage its use.

"My posture is there are consequences, good and bad, for any behavior we exhibit, and there shouldn't be many "outs"."

Abortion is not an "out." It's taking responsibility for your actions and doing what you think is best in order to remedy a situation you put yourself in. Do you think this is an easy decision for a woman?

And if you still consider it an "out" because it's "too easy," do you agree in general that the punishment should fit the crime? If so, how do you justify giving a woman a "sentence" of 18+ years for a "crime" that could have well been an accident?

"In today's society, pregnancy for those who do not want to become pregnant should be a rarity. Given the cost and availability of birth control from a variety of sources, there is virtually no reason for becoming pregnant."

Again, you can thank your fellow conservatives for that. They're the ones trying to eliminate sex ed in schools and limit access to contraception. The pro-life position on the subject is a cascade of contradiction after contradiction. Whatever problem they conjure up, they also figure out a way to oppose its solution.

"I do agree with your statement ""socialism" is the root of all evil".

Well, most all."

I'm curious, how do you define socialism?

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 6, 2012 | 8:05 p.m.

Jon, try and isolate one or two of the more important ideas in a post and respond to those. I'm starting to scroll.

I swear you'd argue with a stump, trying to bring it back to life.

I stand by my position; you've given me no good argument to change it.

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Michael Williams March 6, 2012 | 8:07 p.m.

The "better job of educating people" is a good one.

Is there one single human being in this nation who does NOT know about condoms and birth control pills, and have them available?

Over 8 y/o?


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frank christian March 6, 2012 | 8:43 p.m.

I have been accused of picking individual points of a post to contradict, rather than discuss the overall intention of the poster. I see a post and determine what is wrong or untrue in that post (I'm in an unnoticeable minority, in that I believe I can tell right from wrong). My response is to provably point out the errors and/ or untruths of each point in the subject post. Right or wrong of it may be decided by others.

Jonathan seems similar here. except that he seems bent on picking each and every point as a subject for debate with whomever may be available then shows his ability to gather his considered evidence to we all. Who can say this is wrong? Not wrong, just boring - like a sleepless night.

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Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 6, 2012 | 9:22 p.m.

Michael: Seems you underestimate people's ignorance. There's a difference between having the ability to obtain condoms and knowing how to use them properly. Part of the problem is precisely the fact that they're everywhere, because good information on their proper use and success/failure rates is not. People treat them as "well, duh" items, only to find out the hard way that they should have read the instructions. For example (my apologies if this is more explicit than what the website allows):

-"I just need to take the pill right before having sex."
-"I'm on the pill, so clearly he doesn't need to wear a condom."
-"If putting on a condom decreases the risk of pregnancy by X%, then obviously putting on TWO is better! It's like, double safe!"
-"Dude, condoms just kill all the pleasure. I'm just gonna put it on when I'm closer to the finish line."

Et cetera.

(Report Comment)
Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 6, 2012 | 10:13 p.m.

Since everyone keeps complaining about the length of my posts, yeah, that's probably not gonna change any time soon; sorry. Much to my own detriment, I'm obsessive about writing--like, literally.

I can type ~80wpm, so in theory I could respond to your all's posts in no time, but unfortunately I read and re-read everything I write as I write it. Whereas most people would probably use this as an opportunity to condense and clean up, in my case it's an opportunity to envision all the ways someone could misread/misinterpret my argument. Coupled with my tendency to want to preempt people's responses, each re-read leads to more verbiage instead of less.

A decent chunk of my posts is also quotes, in case you haven't noticed. Here's my logic:

-I keep everything in one post as a courtesy, so that other people know right away what I'm responding to. I personally don't like to have to scroll back and forth between posts to figure out the flow of conversation.
-Although I COULD find the one sentence that summarizes the other person's point, I don't like to trim quotes down because I think cherry-picking is a cheap tactic. I'd rather people read the other person's post in its full context instead of my own potentially twisted version of it.

(Report Comment)
Michael Williams March 6, 2012 | 10:52 p.m.

Jon: Ok, we'll keep it shorter.

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Don Milsop March 7, 2012 | 4:26 a.m.

I am definitely pro choice. Let the baby decide.

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Ellis Smith March 7, 2012 | 5:38 a.m.

Regarding unwanted pregnancies, and the abortions rising from them:

"A microgram of prevention is worth more than a metric ton of remediation." (Holds for many situations.)

Is that short enough? If you make something too long, few people will bother to read it.

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Mark Foecking March 7, 2012 | 6:08 p.m.

I'm wondering why this contraceptive legislation is even taking up legislator's time. About half of all insurance plans don't cover contraception, and also about half (don't know if they're the same ones) don't cover ED medication.

Insurance plans don't cover stuff for lots of reasons. Usually insurance is offered by employers on a take-it-or-leave-it basis, and if something isn't covered it's up to the employee to do something about it. If government is going to step in and mandate certain coverages, than they might as well just put everyone on Medicare and get the private insurers out of it (except we can't afford that, of course).

Has an employers insurance plan specifically not covered contraception, because of religious reasons, in any more than a few isolated cases? I don't know, and am having a hard time finding that information. This suggests to me that it's more of a manufactured issue, for political reasons, than anything that will affect a significant number of people.


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Jonathan Hopfenblatt March 7, 2012 | 9:22 p.m.

I'm feeling too lazy at the moment to do any in-depth research on the costs of contraception, but the few numbers I found are also making me wonder why this is an issue at all, regardless of the religious aspect of the whole thing.

Yes, it's unfortunate that female contraception costs about 4X more than the male variety, but the average cost for women is still $152 per year (assuming I read the article correctly). If your salary is so meager that you can't afford to spend $152 a year on birth control, chances are you don't even have medical insurance, which makes this whole thing a moot point. I lived on a $9/hr salary for 3 years and I could've afforded it--while also covering rent, utilities, gas, internet, food, and my 1-pack-a-day smoking habit. Granted, I don't have kids, but the whole point of contraception is to avoid having kids, so yeah.

I'm not criticizing women, btw. I'm criticizing the logic behind this bill. The people who are going to benefit from this don't need the help, and the people who do need the help are not gonna get it. Even if your employer offered you only the bare minimum coverage, a lot of people out there would kill to have your job.

p.s. Here's my usual disclaimer once again: I use "you" in a general sense and am not referring to anyone in particular.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 8, 2012 | 4:53 a.m.

Again, when you subsidize something you usually get more of it*. Subsidize contraception and - maybe - you'll get less unwanted pregnancies; subsidize abortion and get more abortions.

Which situation is more preferable? If the fetus could vote...

*-Otherwise, why subsidize anything?

(Report Comment)
Gregg Bush March 8, 2012 | 9:47 a.m.

Hey look! A bunch of
Men! How are those uteri?
[Didja skip that day?]

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield March 8, 2012 | 11:22 a.m.

"Subsidize contraception and - maybe - you'll get less unwanted pregnancies; subsidize abortion and get more abortions."

Not necessarily. Look at today's NYT article, "Women in Texas Losing Options for Health Care in Abortion Fight." Here's the anecdotal lede:

"Leticia Parra, a mother of five scraping by on income from her husband’s sporadic construction jobs, relied on the Planned Parenthood clinic in San Carlos, an impoverished town in South Texas, for breast cancer screenings, free birth control pills and pap smears for cervical cancer."

There are more anecdotes toward the end:

"Many San Carlos patients struggle to reach Edinburg from their homes in impoverished neighborhoods called colonias. Maria Romero, a housecleaner with four children, who had a lump in her breast discovered at the San Carlos clinic, has no way to get there.

"Ms. Parra, 33, the mother of five, managed to borrow a car to get to Edinburg after a pap smear at the San Carlos clinic indicated she might have cervical cancer. Further tests showed she was cancer-free.

"Both women worry about getting birth control pills; the clinic may now have to charge them up to $20 for a month’s supply."

Both women had access to free or nearly free birth control until recently, yet they and the fathers still chose to have more children despite struggling to support themselves and the ones they already had.

I'm not singling out these families, either. There are plenty of other examples of people choosing not to use birth control even when it's widely available and deeply subsidized. That's why, for example, almost half of all infants and about one-quarter of all children 1-4 years of age are on WIC, and why 40% of CPS students are on free or reduced lunch.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 8, 2012 | 12:27 p.m.

In a [somewhat] free society stupidity cannot be easily controlled. Nor, as one of our posters has already suggested, is there a pill to prevent people from acting stupidly. If there were, some people would either forget or refuse to take it.

I'd rather have personal freedom and deal with any stupidity as best we can. The alternative is far less palatable. Consider some of the most "regulated" societies of the 20th Century.

(Report Comment)
Jimmy Bearfield March 8, 2012 | 1:09 p.m.

"I'd rather have personal freedom and deal with any stupidity as best we can."

How would you deal with the stupidity? The current system condones and enables this kind of stupidity by providing handouts such as TANF, WIC and Medicaid. Should we continue doing that and wringing our hands and hoping that they'll just suddenly become responsible people? Or will we finally have the guts to admit that the War on Poverty is as futile as the War on Drugs?

Some people consider it harsh, to for example, refuse to provide welfare to a mother who won't list the father's name on the birth certificate, or to men and women who can't support themselves yet choose to make children anyway. But those people could assuage their conscience by opening their wallet and home -- all judgment free, of course -- to the irresponsible. The apologists would step up and put their money where their mouth is, right?

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith March 8, 2012 | 1:39 p.m.

Can we have personal freedom - true personal freedom - and coerced compliance at the same time? Who among us would decide where, when, and how much to apply coercion?

This brings up a good point: in order to both have and enjoy personal freedom there needs to be individual responsibility. There, it would seem, we agree.

(Report Comment)

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