Wednesday, November 27, 2013

On Free Birth Control and Access

As things normally go on the twitters, terse language is used to get across a point, often leaving part of the message on the floor. This tends to fish out people who aren't following along, are honestly confused, and/or are just plain ignorant. Unfortunately, real life is more complicated than a single word meaning.

Here's a case where NARAL is describing the "employer exception" to the free birth control mandate of the ACA (before the SCOTUS!) as not providing all women access to birth control, with the seemingly obligatory twitter pedantic soul, this time played by @Cromulentness:
Of course, the word access in NARAL's usage doesn't mean that all women, right now, can't get birth control without the ACA's free birth control mandate. All they need is heath insurance, something that is directly being addressed by the ACA, or enough money in their pocket to see a doctor to get a prescription and then money to get it filled by a pharmacist. So, yea, if we consider the opposite of access in NARAL's statement to mean 100% blocked, their statement isn't correct.

But, of course, that's not the only usage of the word access. To illustrate another usage, lets consider this:

Every wheelchair bound person, regardless of their mayor’ beliefs, should have access 2 #wheelchairramps #HandsOffMyWCR

You mean should get ramps for free, right? They have access."

As part of the ADA (American's with Disabilities Act), buildings must meet certain requirements for them to be accessible. One of these is that ramps of a certain width and grade are required to allow people in wheel chairs to access the building instead of using the stair steps.

Now, here's how the NARAL's use of the word access is similar to how the ADA provides access for the disabled: 1. Nobody is actively stopping them from having access

1a. Couldn't someone in a wheel chair just have paid somebody else to carry them, and their wheel chair, up the stairs? We aren't paying a security guard to push them away from the building.

1b. Couldn't women just pay out of their own pocket for the doctor visit and pill prescription? Her boss isn't stopping her from seeing a doctor/pharmacist.

2. Just don't do it

2a. Couldn't the person in the wheel chair just not use that building? There are other buildings that don't have stairs or have ramps.

2b. Couldn't women just abstain from sex? There are other activities that don't require taking a pill in order to not get pregnant.

3. But they're different, even if they can't control the fact that they're different

3a. Why are we giving free ramps to people in wheelchairs? Walkers don't need that!

3b. Why are we giving free birth control to women? Men don't need that!

And arguments over the usage of the word access isn't even the end of it! What's being debated is whether or not your employer gets to decide if birth control is free or not. That's like your mayor deciding whether or not there is a wheelchair ramp fee in their city. Because of their personal beliefs? It's just horse shit all the way down. Just treat women as though they are your equal for a change!
Yes, yes I do.