Unique New York

Just like a regular woman, only crankier.

Monday, November 22, 2004

On Reproductive Rights...

If vaginas freak you out, don't read this post.

My theme for the day is access to reproductive health care. I am switching my method of birth control (with any luck) in order to more closely monitor my health needs regarding my blood pressure. The method I would like to switch to has a controversial past. Before the newer versions of this birth control came out, the IUD caused infertility in women. The risk of that happening now is much lower, but so many lawsuits were filed that physicians are a little gun shy about prescribing this device. In any case, hormonal forms of birth control give me high blood pressure, and condoms give me UTI's.

I started looking into getting an IUD in about the past two months. I called a couple of places in my neighborhood that were in my network, and I got the same response: What's an IUD? I live in a conservative area of town, and the gynecologists help women have more babies, not stop them. In desperation, I contacted Planned Parenthood to set up an appointment, since I thought that they would understand my need for this particular form of birth control. Many doctors will not prescribe an IUD unless you have one child already, because they are concerned about lawsuits stemming from possible infertility. I asked about this ahead of time, so that I wouldn't waste a subway ride to Brooklyn Heights. I was told there would be no problem.

After arriving at my appointment, and waiting for two hours to see someone, my chart was reviewed, and I was immediately told that there would be no way for me to get an IUD. That's all fine and well, except that not only did I ask before I came out if not having children would be a problem, but this appointment was not to get an IUD, but to get a pelvic exam. My money was refunded and I never got an exam. The person I spoke with agreed that I was a good candidate for an IUD as a nulliparous female. Then she suggested that I try Depo Provera.

At which point I nearly laughed in her face.

Depo, the shot, causes weight gain. A lot of weight gain. More than 70% of Depo patients report weight gain of more than 10 pounds. Along with the weight gain is an exacerbation of depressive symptoms, exacerbation of asthma symptoms, and it's contraindicated for those with high blood pressure (me) because of fluid retention. So why the fuck did she think Depo was a good idea for me?

I thought of all places, New York must have a more liberal set of physicians willing to treat me. I was not a little disenchanted with this adventure to the Brooklyn Planned Parenthood. I was really bummed when I got on the subway. Not only do I not know if my uterus is healthy, but I also don't have a good form of birth control. It's very upsetting. It's going to be hard to convince a doctor of my need for this method. As far as I can tell, my need to have low blood pressure and my need to be UTI free outweigh the risk of infertility. (As a footnote, almost every form of birth control can make you infertile. It's just one of the risks).

So here's when I got really upset.

I heard today that G.W. appointed Dr. David Hager to the committee head of reproductive medications in the FDA. This guy, swear to God, thinks that scripture and prayer can alleviate women's health symptoms associated with PMS. Let me tell that man something: Try to lay the bible on me when I am premenstrual, and you better start looking for passages that help absolve you of your sins, because your time on this earth is fixin' to be very limited.

I was freaked out because it's going to be harded for me to get an IUD, and it's going to be harder for every woman in the US to get birth control and abortions. I think I speak for a good percentage of women and men when I say this: BACK OFF. The decision to have or not have children should be a choice that both parties in the dyad make together, but do not go legislating our options. My argument is not that "Oh, David and GW don't have uteruses, so they shouldn't be able to make decisions." My argument is that David and GW are not poor, so it's no big deal to them if they have more kids. It's a really big deal when you don't have the money to fund a human life. Wanna talk about the feminization of poverty? It's directly related to divorce and children.

My second argument is this: You shouldn't limit a couple's options to birth control, and then take away the community services that support families in need. The faith based initiatives that this administration talks about are disenfranchising for those of us who do not want to go to Evangelical Bob's House of Literal Bible Interpretations because they're the ones with a soup kitchen.

It's infuriating when I think about the kinds of things we need to make the children we already have on this planet successful human beings. Many children in the US are brought up with the message that people outside of their families do not care about them, and they may not even have families that care. Many have limited resources, limited educations, and so forth. So this administration wants to compound those effects for them by taking away birth control options, and taking away community programs that help them deal with unwanted pregnancies after they have been born. Oh, and after these sweeping reform changes have been made, this administration gets to retire after four years.

I am so pissed I could go read bible passages.


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