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The Birth Control Debate in the US of A

Discussion in 'Snippets of Life (Non-Fiction)' started by arch1209, Jul 25, 2012.

  1. arch1209

    arch1209 Platinum IL'ite

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    The Birth Control Debate in the US of A
    America loves to tell us how they are the harbinger of women’s rights and that their women are better off than their counterparts in South Asia…Then why is it that we only hear men’s voices in the debate over birth control and women’s reproductive rights…
    White American women don’t have to wear a “ghoongat,” or cover their head with a “hijab” but does that make them more empowered than their counterparts in say India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka or Bangladesh? Politicians would like to tell you that women can roam free in the US while a woman in rural Bangladesh could be a victim of eve teasing and traveling in a crowded bus in any Indian city can make the boldest of women cringe. But how different is the situation in New York? Recently a woman was kidnapped in broad daylight outside the Ronkonkoma train station!
    America is yet to elect a woman to lead their country but India, Sri Lanka, Pakistan and Bangladesh have all had women leaders much before women’s empowerment became a buzz word. While one may contest that these women came from powerful families with political backgrounds and their leaderships may have been questionable but they do deserve some credit for leading countries that have historically been patriarchal and faced challenging political climates. Rarely will you see the South Asian media dissect the fashion sense of Sonia Gandhi or Khalida Zia, but Hillary Clinton’s new haircut or Sarah Palin’s glasses will never fail to find a spot on the front page of American newspaper.
    More recently it is the birth control debate that has occupied the nation’s attention. To give you a little background on the topic let me explain why there is such a furor over something as essential as birth control. A new federal mandate in the US requires private health insurance plans to cover the cost of birth control has left the country divided. To elucidate further Catholic Bishops and other religious leaders are objecting to the part of the Affordable Care Act (health care reform) that calls for ending co-pays on birth control and other preventive health services. The end result was a compromise exempting religious employers who object to contraception from paying for birth control directly, with insurance companies picking up the cost. But the Catholic Bishops don't like the compromise either, and now they're taking the fight farther. Rick Santorum, also weighed into this issue by adding his eloquent two cents: “One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea ... Many in the Christian faith have said, ‘Well, that’s okay ... contraception’s okay.’ It’s not okay because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. They’re supposed to be within marriage, for purposes that are, yes, conjugal ... but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen.”
    One of the key factors of women’s empowerment would include giving women the right to choose if they want to embrace motherhood or not. One would think that this would be easy for the White world to understand but sadly not…Recently an all-male “expert” witness panel testified about birth control before the U.S. House Oversight and Government Reform Committee…A group of men deciding if birth control should be easily accessible to women are not! Now that is some empowerment….In a country where women’s rights are protected they were unable to find a single woman to be part of this “expert panel”?
    Recently when a young woman questioned Rush Limbaugh over the debate he called her a “slut” this coming from a man who has been married four times and has no children and openly admitted to taking Viagra, which incidentally is covered by all health care providers.
    Reliable birth control that permits women to responsibly control how many children to have, and when to have them, has given women and mothers increased access to economic and political power. The whole birth control debate is nothing but a war on women’s reproductive rights and EMPOWERMENT!
     
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  2. teacher

    teacher Platinum IL'ite

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    Aaahhh...brave of you to pick this topic:) Tricky one though...I used to work in a school run by a religious group. One of my co-workers wanted to get her daughter (who had an intellectual disability) contraceptives (for her protection). But no go, the insurance wouldn't pay for it.
    I have sat in on some totally weird support groups and come out thinking, "Wow, where did these women (yes women) come from?" Their views on contraception/women's rights was out of this world...
    While I can understand a religious belief on abortion I find this a bit odd...then I tell myself there is room for every kind of person and exhale:)

    Did you enjoy the rejoinder from a democrat in Ohio or Oklahoma about viagra? I thought it was hysterical...my husband and I laughed our guts out:)
     
  3. Pallavi4me

    Pallavi4me Platinum IL'ite

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    I agree with Teacher, Brave of you to pick on this topic.

    Though, I dont have much idea about this issue in USA, It is interesting to read your view points and the other side of women - empowerment in those developed countries.
     
  4. crazywriter

    crazywriter Platinum IL'ite

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    You have brought up a very valid and pertinent topic. It is really interesting to read your article. :) Please, do write on more such topics.

    I will have to disagree with you on this, "Rarely will you see the South Asian media dissect the fashion sense of Sonia Gandhi or Khalida Zia, but Hillary Clinton’s new haircut or Sarah Palin’s glasses will never fail to find a spot on the front page of American newspaper"
    I remember when a few years ago when Mrs. Gandhi refused the post of Prime Minister, there were many articles on her dress sense, her hairstyle, her saris. etc. They actually described how she curled her hair to give it a heavy look. So Indian media is not so far behind in assessing the absurd! :)

    And I completely and thoroughly agree with you on this line, "One of the key factors of women’s empowerment would include giving women the right to choose if they want to embrace motherhood or not." I wish I could come over and give you a hug, and shake your hand! This is such an important thing, which most people miss. In India, unfortunately, that attitude is absent. Does she want to have a child or does she prefer not to? That question does not come up at all. It is taken for granted. A woman marries, and then has children (or a child). Most people at weddings comment on the next function, which is the birth of their child. If she expresses her thoughts, and says she does not want children, then she is abnormal. It is time we broaden our outlook, and accept the fact that the woman has the right to decide what to do with her body.

    Dear Arch, please continue to write on such topics. It makes a very refreshign change to see an intellectual topic being discussed. :)
     
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  5. arch1209

    arch1209 Platinum IL'ite

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    Teacher, Pallavi4me and Crazywriter, thank you for taking the time out for reading my post and for such positive and encouraging responses.
    Teacher and Pallavi4me I never thought that writing about women's reproductive rights was such a controversial topic, till recently. I always thought that it is common sense that women who get most affected by reproduction should have the right to decide whether or not they want to have a child or not. And like the democrat from Okalhoma said that if insurance can give coverage for Viagra why not for women's contraceptive pills. I think it is just another facet of patriarchal culture, and the point I wanted to make was that women are not empowered either in the west or east. That women all over the world are fighting for empowerment, it is just that empowerment means different things for different women.
     
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2012
  6. arch1209

    arch1209 Platinum IL'ite

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    Crazywriter, a big hug to you as well and thanks for the encouragement. I will definitely continue writing more on such topics. I did not know that Indira Gandhi's haircut was also much assessed, I should research more :)
    I totally agree with you that every woman should have the right to decide if or not she wants to embrace motherhood. I get a lot of flak for this, I have friends who tell me that I am incomplete as a woman until I give birth, and this comes from very educated women. I do agree that motherhood is one of the most important stages in a woman's life but shouldn't a woman have the right to decide if and when she is prepared for the same. And if somebody does not want to go through it, why judge them. A woman's worth should not be decided on the basis of how many children she has, there is much more to women than becoming mothers. And whoever said that you have to give birth to be a good mom and to learn how to love and care. For instance Mother Theresa became a mother without giving birth. Without getting into the politics of her charity or the religious issues - caring for a stranger does not come easily to many of us.
     
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  7. teacher

    teacher Platinum IL'ite

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    Hi Arch,
    People are not that different anywhere you go...progress happens thanks to the safeguards provided by law. Even when laws are enacted it takes time to seep into the mainstream thinking.

    The second day after I arrived a group of people started chatting with us...one person my age told me "oh you are from India. I like India. The women there obey their menfolk!" And he was talking to four of us women! Funnily enough, my Advisor, a much older man spent time calming us down:)

    It is an oft repeated theme...controlling others based on any particular (and narrow) value. We tend to drift towards people who espouse the same beliefs and values but there is another world out there. Men and women are partners in this game. The benefit here is that the judicial process is more established and/comprises of women. So there is a greater opportunity to be heard.

    Aaah you saw the democrat's rejoinder:)

    What is the first thing we tell someone who feels down and out? Look at the other person you are so much better off! The belief that what we hold is true for ourselves and for everyone else, and the notion that our worth is determined in comparison to others nurtures this control issue. So we tend to look at someone without a child (whatever the reason-by choice or nature) as being a 'poor thing.'

    a few years ago I met a young woman at a seminar on Specific Learning Disabilities in Chennai. As the group started chatting everyone shared personal info. When it was her turn, this woman said nothing about children...so another person asked her if she had any. The young woman replied "No." the immediate response from the others was, "you are so positive about such a negative thing." the woman laued and said, "no, it is not a negative for me. My husband and i dont want children now. We may change our minds later. Then again, we may not." I can still see every player's expression when she said that. They were not mean or terrible...it's just that they had different points of view when it came to motherhood.

    Here in Germany they have an interesting term...Robin Mutte or mother Robin...for women who send their children to day care or after care while theywork. Several of my friends come back after having been advised about the valueof motherhood. Male and female coworkers discuss how they or their wives are the epitome of motherhood because they quite jobs to raise their children and didn't send them to others. My friends' children ar all over ten years and they go to after school sports clubs while both parents work. They enjoy their time but apparently these women really get picked on! didn't mean to divert the topic but the principle is the same...what we hold true for us should hold true for everyone else-without taking into consideration what the other person wants.


    Best way to counter this is by being politically active...the vote is our best weapon. Rick Santorum didn't make it... He is still the fringe element and Limbaugh's advertisers pulled out:)
     
  8. Viswamitra

    Viswamitra IL Hall of Fame

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    Dear Arch,

    Very well written post. Before the birth control and the women's right to decide whether to have motherhood or not, another major issue that was a major subject of discussion in every Presidential election was whether a woman has a right to abort a child or not. Till today, USA is divided on this subject. Half of the Americans believe in Pro life while the other half declare that if women has rights to decide on the motherhood, she also has the right to decide whether to give birth to a child or not. The conservatives argue that a mother can't abort the child as father has right over the child. Every time when we listen to the arguments, those who are arguing appears to be right. There is also another conservative argument that a fetus clearly has life and abortion is killing a life.

    Regarding women rights, just because a country is developed, it does not necessarily mean that women liberation is stronger in that country. I agree women work in every position that men occupy in the US. But still, for the past two centuries, they could not elect a woman as the President. There are a lot of Governors, Congress Woman and Senators but when it comes to the country's leadership, they have not chosen a women as yet. However, I am also of the opinion that whether it is Bangaladesh, India, Pakistan or Sri Lanka, the women occupied the highest office not because they worked through the rank to become a politician but they happened to be the children or wife of already famous politicians. Once they occupy the highest chair, they become powerful in their own rights.

    I would say the women are considered equal in a country only when there is no incident of domestic violence, no reported violence against women, women are not considered as a model to sell a product, girl children are not killed because they are considered as a drain on the wealth, women are not considered as Cheer Leaders for the games played by men and so on.

    Viswa
     
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  9. arch1209

    arch1209 Platinum IL'ite

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    Dear Teacher and Viswamitra,

    Thank you for sharing such wonderful thoughts. Teacher, your piece about Robin Mutte was very interesting who knew motherhood, which is something so natural and beautiful could be turned into such a politicized topic - well trust our politicians to do that. Your example about the lady you met at the seminar, reminded me of a recent incident that I encountered. One of my classmates recently delivered her first child, when she returned back to school after three weeks, all the girls asked her about her experience. She replied that while she loved her son and being a mother is the best thing to have ever happened to her, she hated being pregnant. She hated being big, bloated and the lack of sleep often made her cranky. Her baby was very big (12 pounds) so her pregnancy was a little high risk - however, she added that seeing her baby made her forget all her pregnancy issues. When I relayed this incident to one of my Indian friend and told her that I thought my friend was very honest. Most women when asked about how they felt when they were pregnant they say "Oh I loved it, Its the best feeling in the world but here was someone who was honest about how she felt." My friend was aghast and she immidiately said what can you expect from someone who leaves their three week old child at home to go study - such a bad mother. Worse still nobody hates being pregnant, how can you hate it? However, when this some person was pregnant she cribbed about everything from the morning sickness to the cramps to the swollen hands and feet. However, if the father was to leave a three week old child and travel too another country for some meeting, nobody would call him a bad father. I think the world is so big, there is space for everyone and sometimes we need to accept people with their thoughts, values, morals and opinions even if they are against what we believe. As long as they are not planning to bomb the world.
    Dear Viswa,
    I totally agree with you that equality of women can only be possible when women are safe, sadly that is far from the reality in most countries. I am not sure if you watched a recent episode of Satyamev Jayate, which foccussed on Domestic Violence. What appalled me most is a group of men openly laughing and joking about beating their views. In fact, they were gloating about it and saying that "Yes, I hit my wife so what. I came home at 2 in the afternoon and she was sleeping when she should be serving lunch." I wondered to myself, how can someone on any planet think that is right.
    There has to be a solution somewhere for all of this.
    As far as the right for women to abort or not - I am going to go ahead and make my allegiance clear, I think being pro-choice and pro abortion are two different things. Most people think that when you say pro-choice you mean pro-abortion, however, I think these are two different things. I am not pro-abortion but I am definitely pro-choice. The world we live in is not black or white, things are complicated and there needs to be a space for the grey to exist.
     

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