Although the exception rather than the rule, those demanding free oral birth control quickly and often point out those women who need birth control to treat their medical conditions. They become downright indignant and sanctimonious about those poor women, those poor women in pain, who will suffer if the government doesn’t force religious organizations to provide free birth control for everyone.
You should know that I am one of those “poor women.” I’ve suffered for years from endometriosis, a prevalent disease where the endometrium (uterine lining) grows excessively and beyond the uterus, causing cysts and severe pain. When I say severe—from “bee sting” to “child birth,” it would be akin to taking a knife, searing it in an open flame until it glows red, thrusting it in your abdomen, twisting it, pulling it out and repeating the process several times each month. The scale of “happy face” to “frowny face” used at the doctors’ office just doesn’t cut it, unless the frowny face is also vomiting and has a word bubble showing that it is begging for death. My mother, a nurse, made valiant efforts to find a solution and after ultrasounds and diagnosis, the best our doctor could offer me at 14-years-old was a pack of birth control pills which I reluctantly took. The pain did subside, but I was an emotional, depressive wreck and I told my mother I’d rather endure pain for a few days than be crazy every single day. Some would argue then that my pain could not have been that bad if I opted to tough it out, but the truth is that my pain was bad, but the anxiety and depression was simply worse.
My endurance for monthly agony finally wore thin after nearly a decade of being tethered to a heating pad and clutching a bottle of pain-killers. As a university student, I decided to seek a real treatment to address the actual problem. I saw several gynecologists and the best they, too could offer me was a pack of birth control pills, since an unintended side effect of the pill was relief from such pain at the expense of sabotaging my other lady parts that were functioning as designed. Every time I brought up the fact that I wanted to fix what was broken, not break what was working properly for temporary relief from my actual ailment, these specialists either tried to sell me on the pill (down to showing me how cute and decorative the pill compacts are!) to just dismissing me with “take it or leave it.”
Something else to keep in mind that I was as working part-time in childcare with no insurance, and I used my $7.25/hour wage to pay for specialist after specialist who made more money in one hour than I did in a week yet could offer me nothing beyond a pill that would ease my pain, yet cause me more medical problems in order to do so. I couldn’t afford to keep having packs of birth control pills thrown at me or endure the pain any longer and although I was not Catholic at the time, I reasoned that if I found a Catholic gynecologist who didn’t prescribe contraceptives, they would be forced to give me an actual treatment for my condition since they lacked the pill as a convenient cop-out. I found one and luckily, the lifestyle and diet changes he suggested have helped significantly and I am not chemically dependent on carcinogenic and abortive hormones intended to prevent me from having children, something I actually wanted. It took money and time I did not have to find my treatment, but I found a treatment where one didn’t actually exist—with oral contraceptives thwarting my pursuit for health at every turn.
Unlike Sandra Fluke, I know all too well about the medical “need” for contraception. I assert the medical need is not for contraception, but for real medical treatments. Instead, women are reduced to settling for the side effects of a drug that was not designed to treat any medical ailments, but intended to allow people to have sex without pregnancy, something that is intended to profit men just as much as women, since the last time I checked, it takes a man for a woman to become pregnant. The fact that men have treatments for legitimate disorders that affect men but women are forced to endure our medical problems or accept scraps rather than solutions just reeks of sexism. It baffles me that it is self-proclaimed feminists who are indignant about not getting free contraception somehow fail to see that women with real health problems are woefully neglected. The only way I can explain it is that women are forced to use socks as gloves when their hands are cold. Sure, the socks do warm the hands, but the fingers become useless. Likewise, the pill would have eased my pain, but my reproductive organs would no longer function.
I was forced to choose between pain and health, when health itself would have relieved my pain. I was given a choice of infertility from my condition or infertility from my treatment. That was not an acceptable choice for me. The feminists angered on behalf of poor women like me who would suffer each month without the pill apparently don’t care very much, at least not enough to demand actual solutions. After all, this wouldn’t advance their cause. They would rather keep me in pain and use me and my disease as a sympathetic smokescreen to hide their true agenda. This isn’t surprising, as we have seen these women exploit rape victims as political props to get abortion-on-demand or over-the-counter emergency contraception for themselves.
I will state the obvious: Contraception is about contraception, not my medical affliction. We’ve established that contraception is insufficient in addressing medical problems anyway and rather causes more medical problems, but even if it the pill did appropriately treat my medical condition, most women want contraception for contraception. If I were forced to use it for medical treatment, I would also be forced to use it also as contraception against my will because that is what it does. As someone who hopped from doctor to doctor in college with no insurance and a limited income, I can assure you that oral contraception is really easy to get. Real medical care? Not so much. It took significant time and money to address my health problem but and yet I did. It would take no such effort to get an oral contraceptive, especially with a medical indication.
The controversy is not about medical treatment for women like me. It is about who pays for contraception for women like Sandra Fluke. Even those groups that oppose contraception will pay for contraceptives if there is an established medical reason. So again, those “poor women” like me who would, unlike me, accept contraception as a treatment, we are covered. And while I insist that it is an injustice that real treatments for female ailments don’t exist for women like myself (forcing me to find my own solutions at my own expense) I never complained about having to pay for my own healthcare.
This battle that these so-called feminists are waging supposedly on my behalf is exploiting my disease so they can have free birth control. These are healthy women who want a pill to make their bodies unhealthy (and infertile) at their whim. Meanwhile, women like me with legitimate health problems who want to protect our fertility are left without acceptable options. This “poor woman” found and paid for her own treatments in spite of those who feign to care about her and are using her for selfish gain. I took care of myself. Since getting birth control is infinitely easier than what I endured, is it too much to expect these women to take care of themselves* as well?
*If the answer is no, maybe I should dig up my old medical bills and see if Sandra Fluke and her ilk will reimburse me for them, since she cares so much about women like me.