Out of the roughly 4 million births which were reported in the 2006 US Census;
-more than a one fourth were to unmarried women.
-almost 30% were to women under the age of 25.
-roughly one fourth were to women living below the poverty level.
-women living under the poverty level have a fertility level twice as high as those living at 200% of the poverty level.
There are many aspects to consider when it comes to reproductive rights in the United States. These include; birth control, emergency contraception, and abortion. When looking at any of these issues through the lens of feminist theory, the main connections are the ideas of power and responsibility (both financial and emotional)
Birth control is available in multiple forms throughout the US. Medicaid is the US health care system provided to those living below the poverty line. Considering the high fertility rate among this population, I would like to consider how Medicaid deals with this issue. In every state, Medicaid plans include provisions for prescription birth control, while only some states include provisions for other forms, including over the counter supplies such as condoms. Prescription birth control pills must be taken everyday by a woman. The woman also must visit a doctor to obtain the prescription. Whatever cost is not covered by Medicaid will also fall to the woman. Most forms of birth control, including condoms, are expensive. By providing only for prescription birth control pills, Medicaid puts the burden of responsibility onto women, instead of men.
Emergency Contraception and Abortion:
While laws and policies differ from state to state, the majority of states have some type of policy which takes the decision to use emergency contraception away from the women, and puts it into the hands of doctors, pharmacists, and the government. When a woman makes the decision to request emergency contraception, numerous states leave it up to the doctors to decide weather or not to prescribe it, based on their own beliefs. Even if the doctor does decide to provide the prescription, many states also allow the pharmacist to decide weather or not they will then fill this prescription. In at least one state, doctors are even allowed to refuse emergency contraception to women who have been victim to sexual assault.
The issues surrounding abortion are very similar to those surrounding emergency contraception. While all of the responsibility for the pregnancy and life of a child will fall to the women, in many places, the decision is not left up to her, or at least not her alone. There is also a huge emotional and psychological burden involved in making the decision to use emergency contraception or to abort. When a woman has made the decision to seek either option, they still might have the power for making that decision stripped from them.
Why do you believe that women are often expected to be responsible for birth control?
Should the federal or state government play a part in reproductive rights?
For more information, including state-by-state policies on abortion and emergency contraception, visit http://www.guttmacher.org/
Posted by Bri Connolly
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