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Published: March 15, 2012 12:08 am to Opinion Column

The birth control debate is ignoring what matters: sick children

Contraception will not be banned. We know this. Democrats know it. Republicans know it. But that doesn’t mean it should be free, despite the fact that law students like Sandra Fluke believe birth control is a natural human right and preventative care. Those against free birth control list a variety of reasons to be in opposition to it, including the fact that certain types cause abortion; free birth control is anti-feministhealthcare premiums will rise; and birth control is not healthcare. All of these are legitimate, solid points. But when it comes to the fact that birth control is not healthcare, it doesn’t even matter if to some women it is. Healthcare isn’t free anyway. And children without it are the ones who are suffering.

One evening last August, I sat in bed watching the news while my baby and husband were asleep next to me, and my toddler was tucked into bed. As I listened to the report that birth control would be free in exactly one year, I felt my stomach sink. Why on earth, I wondered, would birth control of all things be free? After all, there’s already a free, all-natural birth control available called Natural Family Planning. I felt dizzy, nauseous, and so incredibly angry. How could any autonomous woman with any self-worth who knows that it is her own personal choice to take birth control and engage in sex expect to get birth control for free when so many sick children can’t afford their medications? It became obvious to me that the sense of entitlement that plagues this country had gone too far.

Every day, parents of children like mine whom have special health needs have to decide between paying for their child’s treatments and paying the mortgage. Healthcare premiums are constantly rising while insurance companies cover less and less of the costs of medications and doctor visits. Yet people want birth control to be paid in full by insurance companies. Our health insurance only covers 50% of my child’s life-saving medications. Why should they cover 100% of someone’s birth control? Luckily for us, our state has a phenomenal supplemental insurance system for children with special health care needs which allows us to receive her expensive medications for very small co-pays and often for free. One of her medications alone is over $2,000 a month. The enzymes that keep her from starving to death are nearly $1,000 a month. The machine that shakes mucus from her lungs cost $16,000. Families like mine are forced to quit their jobs to care for their child or change them significantly in order to receive Medicaid for their child. They have to give up their homes. They have to fundraise for the money to pay for surgeries. They sacrifice all of their own wants in order to find the best way to care for their child.

Please don’t think I’m complaining about the costs of raising a child with a chronic health condition. I’m not. Her life is worth every penny in the world. I would gladly work harder, cut coupons, work nights, and skip a haircut if it meant she was taken care of. The joy of her life is immeasurable. What I’m not willing to do is pay higher premiums to my health insurance company to cover the cost of other women’s elective birth control. If any prescriptions should be free in this country, it’s the ones that belong to children. Therefore, to those of you who expect your birth control to be paid for, please remember that sex and birth control are not the same as oxygen. You can live without them, but children will and do suffer and die without their medications.

About Nancy Flanders

Nancy is a work at home mom who writes about parenting, special needs children, and the right to life. She is the lucky mother of three spirited little girls, one who has cystic fibrosis, and she spends any free moment she can find fundraising for a cure for CF. You can read her personal blog at www.ChronicAdmissions.com.
View all posts by Nancy Flanders

  • Shelly200

    “The joy of her life is immeasurable.”

    I think you hit the nail on the head right there. Those who advocate for free contraception and for abortion do not see the joy of life. All they see is cost and burden. When children are treated as a disease that needs a cure, how can they be seen as anything but a burden?

  • http://howmeganseesit.weebly.com/ Megan

    I commend you for having the dedication to raise a child with disabilities.  I know many disabled children who are the happiest, most carefree, and innocent people.  They are, to be honest, some of my favorite people in the world.  But what about the women who are not gifted enough to write?  Or stay at home?  Will you pay for a women’s medical expenses if her husband has lost his job in this horrible economy?  I feel for the people who have difficulties affording medication, but there are foundations and funding available for these families.  Why can’t an underprivileged woman have this kind of funding available to her too?

  • VanTed

    I can’t believe I have never thought of that!!  You are so right.  I have a child with a severe heart condition and I have been so blessed to have ALL his healthcare covered through the military and somehow he STILL qualified for medicaid.  I’d imagine if I had to pay even half of his medical bills your thoughts would have been mine too.  Thank you for bringing up this point………I’m ashamed that I have taken my insurance for granted.  While the left is constantly trying to shift the Republican campaigns to be all about the social issues, eg birth control, I think it’s time to bring real light to who is TRULY being ignored here.  The children of the United States.

  • http://www.facebook.com/liam.s.phoenix Liam Phoenix

    The problem with many of those women who feel entitled to free birth control is that they don’t really care about your child and they think that you either should have avoided that expense by either taking birth control or having an abortion.

    I’m sure many of them will change their minds if they ever do have children, but no matter what someone tells you about a parent’s love for their children you will never understand it until you experience it.

    • Vocal Veracity1

      That has absolutely nothing to do with it. I care greatly about people and their children, but I care about my health. As a person who suffers from very painful periods, an irregular cycle and acne, birth control has really helped all my health issues. 

      Also, it is not particularly my time to have children. I very much plan on having children, but when I can provide all I can for that child. This has NOTHING to do with birth control or if I will change my mind or not. I am advocate for birth control because it helps me not only medically but also personally, bringing no harm to others.

      • SpazKaz

         “Bringing no harm to others,” except those who have to pay for it. Which would mean everyone if you get your way, am I correct? And are you really going to compare “painful periods, an irregular cycle, and acne” to a life threatening medical condition? Seriously? Women have been dealing with those issues for all of mankind’s history. What you are saying, in essence, is that you don’t care if you raise insurance premiums for the rest of us (including those of us who have SERIOUS medical conditions). You don’t care if some parents will have to work even harder to keep their special needs children alive. You just want your birth control handed to you for free. Nothing and no one else matters.

      • Nancy

         You can have your birth control. It’s expecting it for free that is anti-feminist and selfish in my opinion. I’m sure many of these women (not necessarily you) who want free birth control have cable tv and smart phones but are unwilling to part with them in order to pay for birth control.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Regina-Johnson/1281703179 Regina Johnson

    It seems the country we live in is Anti-Children and its becoming more so everyday.  Most people aren’t willing to sacrifice what they “want” in order to care about anyone but themselves.  This is the “ME” generation where everyone thinks they are entitled.

    • Ryosuke

      I sadly find myself agreeing with this statement. Only trouble is, is what is going to happen to the generation after ours? They inherit the mess this generation left behind for them.

  • http://profile.yahoo.com/VSG4ZINXB5WKWEZZMN7O5ELFFI Ric

    The only problem is do you think that republican candidates are going to agree with you? What your promoting is socialism, the things republicans have used to go against Obama. They don’t believe that the government should be interfering with private companies because America is a capitalistic society, not a socialist one. If Santorum is against insurance companies being required to give insurance to kids with pre-existing conditions, do you think that Romney, who believes that corporations are people, is going to agree with you?

  • Anonymous

    Wow, that REALLY puts it into perspective.