Currently, there is a lot of talk about the Supreme Court decision overturning Roe v. Wade, but little discussion about sex, birth control, and women’s health.
Society has always portrayed sex as this dirty little 3 letter word. Furthermore, regarding sex, women are often not viewed in a positive light, even in biblical times. Think of the “woman at the well.”
Religious leaders at the time were quick to judge her for polygamy. During this era, women were not well respected and looked down upon and ignored. However, it takes two people to have intercourse, and Jesus had to remind these men that they had no right to judge him when they were not free from sin.
So it’s interesting to me how passionately people have argued against abortion, but those same people are often silent about supporting birth control. Ironic, right? So we don’t want women to have the choice of an abortion, but we also don’t want to universally pay for birth control or fertility treatments. Let’s not forget states that refuse to expand Medicaid. Anti-abortionists want women to continue with their pregnancies, but then they don’t want to help them when the baby is born.
As a provider whose patient population is majority female, I want the best for my patients and will advocate for their well-being. There are horrible situations that happen that are unplanned like rape, life threatening medical conditions, and genetic abnormalities that are incompatible with life. It is not my job as a provider to make moral judgments about my patients and their partners. As an individual citizen, if I choose not to have an abortion, so be it. However, imposing my views on a situation that is between the patient, her partner and her doctor is scandalous.
Contrary to popular belief, contraception is NOT easily accessible to everyone. For example, I have patients who work for religious organizations that refuse to cover contraception unless it is for medical reasons. Some of my patients, for example, cannot take some long-acting contraceptive methods because of the cost. Do we want people to have unwanted pregnancies and not be able to afford to care for their children; or do we want to provide them with the right resources to plan pregnancies according to the desired time frame? Many miscarriages can be avoided with widely available contraception.
I also believe that our antiquated approach to educating young people about sex and contraception is also contributing to this ongoing debate about the regulation of female organs. Sex is natural. Children should learn about their sexual organs from a young age and learn to respect the human body. Consent must also be taught at a young age. Curiosity about sex and body parts is a natural part of growing up, but we need to make sure our children understand the limits of touch. Children should not watch inappropriate television content or be present during adult sexual acts. Sexual violence is a major public health problem in this country. According to the CDC, one in four women or one in twenty-six men have experienced attempted or completed rape. With this new decision of the Supreme Court, we are now dictating to women that they must have the child of their rapist.
Debates in our country are often wrong. We waste time and miss opportunities to address important issues such as poverty, maternal-fetal death rates, obesity and cardiovascular disease. Today’s abortion debate is nothing more than a patriarchal attempt to roll back the years of women’s health advancement.
What is expected next?
Denise Hooks-Anderson, MD, FAAFP can be reached at [email protected]