What do shoes, Frappuccino and birth control have in common?

That unlike many women in this country, Fox News commentator Dana Perino can afford all three, or at least that’s what I infer from this tidbit:

Now, I might be for [free birth control], if I didn’t see a lot of people out there able to buy a new pair of shoes. I mean, we have to be able to make some choices here … How are we going to define poor? Because who is not in that category now who can’t get free birth control anyway? … If you can afford a $5 Frappuccino at Starbucks, look, you can pay your $5 co-pay.

Where oh where to begin? I guess I’ll just make a list:

  1. Sometimes people need new shoes? Is Dana Perino’s definition of poor that you need to be walking around barefoot and unable to afford a pair of shoes, and then she’ll consider that you need free birth control? People just don’t look poor enough to her yet. Maybe she means that she sees a lot of people buying shoes, and knows they are buying Louboutins instead of a Nuva Ring? Maybe the “lot of people” you see buying shoes aren’t the same ones who can’t afford birth control. Just a thought.
  2. We do have to be able to make some choices! Like the choice not to get pregnant! But it’s unfortunate when things like income don’t cover or just barely cover bills, basic necessities, etc. That often takes away women’s financial ability to afford birth control, which takes away her choice to prevent unplanned pregnancies. I know, I know, maybe she just shouldn’t have sex. Shouldn’t a woman have the choice to engage in intercourse though? How about with her husband? I guess this point is moot if you think sex is only for procreation, as you probably wouldn’t want women to have the choice to have sex for pleasure at all.
  3. You know, free birth control currently doesn’t just fall from the sky. When you try to take away government funding for family-planning clinics like Planned Parenthood or shut down family-planning clinics by re-regulating them as hospitals, you are attacking the very institutions that give out that free birth control. So yeah, thanks for suggesting women already have places to go for free birth control while simultaneously trying to shut those places down. That makes a lot of sense.
  4. You know, this “you aren’t poor unless you can’t afford to put shoes on your feet” definition for low-income is a bit ridiculous. There are plenty of people who live paycheck-to-paycheck, and birth control isn’t “free” for them using a sliding scale like Planned Parenthood does when deciding how much patients will owe for birth control. There are a lot of women who fall into this “I make too much money to qualify for free birth control,” but “I don’t make enough money to afford expensive co-pays” category.

    Also, being poor doesn’t mean that free birth control magically appears on your doorstep. Being eligible to “get” it and actually having the means to “get” it are different. You have to travel to get it. Sometimes, you have to travel really far to get it, because there are only one or two places in your entire state where you can get free birth control. That takes time, a mode of transportation, and the money to use that transportation. I guess you could walk a few hundred miles to get there, just don’t let Dana catch you buying new shoes for the journey.

  5. Does everyone really think birth control only costs $5? Some generic, really popular forms do, but not all birth controls are made alike. Women react differently to different kinds, health histories would steer your doctor away from prescribing you certain kinds, and they can cost $50 or more per co-pay. That’s a lot of foregone Frappuccinos.

    Not all forms are taken orally, either. Nuva Rings and IUDs are very effective, but Nuva Rings cost $50 or more each month, and an IUD is an upfront cost of $175 to $500. Now if I just stop drinking my daily frappuccino before work, I can afford an IUD in … five months. Oh, that’s assuming I have enough money to enjoy an expensive drink at Starbucks everyday, but really, who doesn’t?

And she wasn’t the only one with something to say about birth control. Also on the panel was Andrea Tantaros:

Most poor people can [afford birth control], it’s already provided. Why should taxpayers have to fund breast pumps, birth control — look, women should be responsible for their own ovaries. That is the bottom line.

I think we already covered that not everyone has access to and/or should be taking the free or relatively cheap kinds of birth control. Taxpayers should fund it because birth control for all women serves a greater community purpose. Fewer unplanned pregnancies, less strain on government assistance, less people needing to forego an education to take care of a child — all good things.

But I’m so glad to see Andrea talking about women being responsible for their own ovaries! Women should be responsible for their own ovaries, in fact, their entire uterus and all those other reproductive organs, too. Which is why they want to take birth control, but there are financial barriers that make it difficult to do consistently or at all. So this removal of co-pay only facilitates responsibility!

All this talk about women having choices and how their ovaries are their own responsibility makes for great pro-choice arguments! Thanks for the talking points, ladies!

(Thanks to Ms. for originally blogging about this.) 

 

 

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