Thank You Thursdays: Maeve Reston

We showed you McCain stumbling over the question of whether birth control should, indeed, be covered by insurance companies in the same way Viagra is (answer=hell yes). But who asked the question?
Many news outlets have alluded to “the woman from the LA Times,” but we wanted to name her and thank her for doing what journalists are supposed to do–ask the hard questions and demand answers from our nation’s political power players. Thank you Maeve Reston!
By the way, I love that community blogger JentheFem and others have started to write their own Thank You Thursdays. The best form of flattery!

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  1. AJoy
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 6:49 pm | Permalink

    If Birth control pills are covered by insurance companies they will have to pass on that cost to the customers – if not they will go bankrupt. And the cost will go up for all the people who do not use it too. This is kind of unjust because people not using it would be financing others who are using it – women who are not using it will be paying more for their coverage.
    And also it will be easy for misusing it. There is no way the companies can guarantee that the pill is being used by the policy holder.
    I think it is a good decision.

  2. Logrus
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 6:59 pm | Permalink

    AJoy: So you’re saying that no prescriptions should be covered, right?
    Because every single thing you stated could be said ove every kind of drug.
    And how do you “misuse” birth control? I’m pretty sure it won’t get you high. the only things I know that it has been used for other than birth control are some variants are believed to help with skin conditions (acne) and to regulate unusual or problematic menstruation issues. And as far as I know the pill is not really the best for the former.
    How about you say: “If heart surgery is covered by health insurance they will have to pass along the cost….blah blah blah.”

  3. AJoy
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 7:07 pm | Permalink

    Most of what is covered by insurance companies should have a prescription. Which means that if the medicine is not taken (most likely) it could be fatal/very bad to the patient. So, the patient will be forced to take it.
    It is difficult to monitor the usage of sleeping pill – the person could give it others…
    If the cost of all medicines is say 10,000, the company has to charge 11,000 and make the 1,000 profit. If the cost goes up due to covering the sleeping pill people will be forced to pay more.
    If a patient has to have a heart surgery he/she will have to have it done. Sleeping pill is a choice.

  4. Logrus
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 7:17 pm | Permalink

    AJoy: What are you talking about? This isn’t a discussion of sleeping pills, this is a discussion of birth control pills.

  5. h*yaforchoice
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    AJoy: Ok, point taken. In the vast majority of cases, birth control or lack thereof is not life or death. But that’s not the issue at hand. The issue is why aren’t sexual health drugs covered in the same way for men and women?
    If an insurance company chooses not to cover drugs that are specifically used for sexual health purposes, then fine. I don’t agree with the decision, but it’s not sexist. But why is it that they’ll cover a drug whose only purpose is to allow men to get their jollies, but not drugs that women need not only to have a healthy sexual life, but also often to simply lead a normal life.

  6. dan&danica
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    “whose only purpose is to allow men to get their jollies”
    this is a tough one for me. viagra and drug like it are often used recreationally by those who dont -need- it but viagra is also used so that men can “have a healthy sexual life, but also often to simply lead a normal life.”
    I dont see viagra or birth control as 100% analagous, maybe 98% so and i think both should be covered under health insurance but I never quite got how they are used as completely the same in this argument. Without viagra a lot of men would be unable to perform sexually, not being able to have sex at all seems different to me than having than having to worry about the consequences. to not be able to enjoy sex and/or orgasm at all is a medical problem, birth control seems more a life necessity. both are needed but i dont know why the image of a vitamin v popping old man or men simply wanting their jollies is the only image brought up when this conversation comes up.

  7. dan&danica
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    “whose only purpose is to allow men to get their jollies”
    this is a tough one for me. viagra and drug like it are often used recreationally by those who dont -need- it but viagra is also used so that men can “have a healthy sexual life, but also often to simply lead a normal life.”
    I dont see viagra or birth control as 100% analagous, maybe 98% so and i think both should be covered under health insurance but I never quite got how they are used as completely the same in this argument. Without viagra a lot of men would be unable to perform sexually, not being able to have sex at all seems different to me than having than having to worry about the consequences. to not be able to enjoy sex and/or orgasm at all is a medical problem, birth control seems more a life necessity. both are needed but i dont know why the image of a vitamin v popping old man or men simply wanting their jollies is the only image brought up when this conversation comes up.

  8. dan&danica
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    had a question on this, a few weeks ago i read a few posts from people who were upset young women were being charged more for health insurance than young men, how much would that chasm grow with mandatory birth control coverage? I’m all for it I’m just curious what the costs would be.

  9. dan&danica
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 8:11 pm | Permalink

    had a question on this, a few weeks ago i read a few posts from people who were upset young women were being charged more for health insurance than young men, how much would that chasm grow with mandatory birth control coverage? I’m all for it I’m just curious what the costs would be.

  10. h*yaforchoice
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    dan&danica: I agree that a healthy sex life is important for men and women, and that my previous comment was dismissive of that. I suppose my only point was (supposed to be) that without Viagra, men can still hold a job, go grocery shopping, take their kids to school, leave the house, etc. For many women (my mother was one for a long time) the pill is the only thing that makes it possible to do these things. My mother would bleed through in literally 15 minutes until she was prescribed birth control for this reason. It also caused a host of other medical maladies including severe anemia (that nearly killed her).
    If we’re going to speak of degrees of necessity (which AJoy was), I cannot possibly see how Viagra could be more so.

  11. revsolcialist
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 8:49 pm | Permalink

    The problem with AJoy’s argument is that corporations (including insurance companies) don’t make a standard amount of profit. They don’t say – “Well, our costs our X, so we’ll charge consumers X + $1000, and make $1000 per consumer.” Corporations charge as much as they can get away with. So the assumption that covering birth control pills (or any medication) will automatically raise costs is a false one.
    Beyond that, I view health care as a human right. So we need to be fighting for the inclusion of all medication that doctors and patients decide they need – which ranges from antibiotics to oral contraceptives to, yes, Viagra. I don’t think we should be okay with insurance companies choosing not to cover certain medications. They’re certainly not passing those savings on to us.

  12. AJoy
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 8:56 pm | Permalink

    Sorry, it is Birth control pill not sleeping pill in my previous comment.
    I think sexual desire could be a “decease” that affects only few Men or Women (I guess Women have their own Viagra if Viagra is only for Men). If all Men are covered to take Viagra it is a problem.
    Problem with Birth control pills is 100% of the Women between 13-55 years are eligible to buy it. If companies start covering that kind of stuff they will go bankrupt.
    This is my opinion.

  13. spike the cat
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 9:02 pm | Permalink

    Biological and medical inequities render the analogy imperfect and not the analogy itself.
    Even if there were a male birth control pill on the market, it doesn’t change the fact that it is the woman who must carry the fetus to term for 9 months.
    And as for Viagra: not being able to enjoy sex/orgasm has been a reality for many women at least in some parts of our lives. Yet there is no such magic bullet (pun intended) treatment available. Would insurance ever consider a vibrator for an anorgasmic women if it were deemed medically necessary? (Insurance does cover other medical necessary gadgets).
    So we can’t compare things that don’t yet exist (viagra for women or birth control pills for men).
    The analogy is really the best we have to offer. Furthermore, an analogy need not be perfect to be useful.
    Now if someone could create a pill to transfer a fetus into a belly of a man—well then the conversation might be different.

  14. Ismone
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 9:15 pm | Permalink

    A few things about the pill:
    1) As hiya points out, there are legitimate, non-contraceptive reasons for prescribing birth control pills, including the treatment of several severe illnesses, namely, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome and endometriosis.
    2) Pregnancy is a medical condition, and a much more dangerous medical condition than inability to get an erection.
    3) Ovulating every month (the pill stops ovulation) is not “normal.” It is only in the past century that we have been well-fed enough (and delayed/limited childbearing enough) that women have ovulated every month. More ovulation = higher risk of ovarian cancer.
    4) If the insurance companies were looking at this from a profit perspective, paying for a woman’s birth control for life (or even 10 or 20 women) is much less expensive than a hospital birth in a normal pregnancy. (Add in prenatal care, and well-baby checkups . . .)
    5) A larger number of women then men suffer sexual dysfunction. Yet we have a drug for male, but not female, sexual dysfunction. Wonder if those same companies pay for testosterone creme, which some women with low libidos swear by. I am thinking no.

  15. spike the cat
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 9:33 pm | Permalink

    “dan&danica: had a question on this, a few weeks ago i read a few posts from people who were upset young women were being charged more for health insurance than young men, how much would that chasm grow with mandatory birth control coverage? I’m all for it I’m just curious what the costs would be.”
    The hormones in birth control pills probably cost a nickels and dimes per pill to produce. Any drug on the market beyond the life of it’s patent usually has a myriad of generic manufactures producing it. This produces competition, such that prices fall fast. It boggles the mind why we pay such high prices for oral contraceptives that have essentially not changed for 30 years.
    One time, in Europe I was in a pinch and I went to a pharmacy to see if I could get 1 pack of birth control pills. Now keep in mind that yes, Europe has price controls but also keep in mind that pharmaceutical companies aren’t going to sell something without seeing a profit.
    I think the cash price for 1 pack (1 month supply) was under 20 dollars (for a brand name). People with insurance would have paid a lot less.
    In the US they are overcharging cash paying customers such that the same pack would have cost 40-50 dollars for brand name, 30 dollars for generic. Insurance companies make contracts with the drug companies and in turn they get deep discounts. Then they turn around and charge the patient a copayment. They incentive generics by jacking up copayments on the brand name drugs and tell you that you are saving money, but they are the ones pocketing most of it.
    If insurance companies don’t want to cover birth control pills then they don’t deserve to be the middlemen. Women should be allowed to pay cash what other citizens pay in other countries.
    end of story.

  16. Yoshimi
    Posted July 31, 2008 at 10:57 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely think that insurance could cover birth control, but lets not get too up in arms about them covering Viagra. My boyfriend’s grandfather is on a low dose of it for heart problems, and I think a healthy sex life is important for everyone. Just because people want to hurt women’s health insurance coverage doesn’t mean we should take out our anger on the men who rely on insurance for their needs. :)
    That being said, hell yeah cover the pill. It’s very necessary for many women’s quality of life.

  17. Scarbo
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 12:25 am | Permalink

    Birth control pills vs. ED pills is comparing apples to oranges.
    Birth control pills exist for reasons of choice. It has nothing to do with a medical condition. (Having said that, I guess I realize there are medical conditions for which those drugs could be prescribed, in which case, yeah, one could argue that they should be covered.)
    The drug Viagra and others are meant to treat a medical condition: the lack of the ability to achieve an erection. ED is a loss of normal body function. Drugs to treat it are no different in purpose than drugs to treat high blood pressure, acid reflux, etc. They are treating an abnormal condition.
    But all this stuff about “the insurance company should cover this, the insurance company should cover that…” is nonsense. An insurance company can do whatever the heck they want to do, as they see fit to run their business, as any other corporation sees fit to run their business. Just because you “think” insurance should cover something doesn’t make it so. I’d like my co-pays to be zero, but it ain’t gonna happen. I’d like Aetna to cover the chest x-ray my doctor gives me each time I have an annual physical, but they don’t. I think they should, but at the end of the day, they write the policy and I pay the premium. If I don’t like it, I can take my business elsewhere.
    This argument makes about as much sense as telling an automobile manufacturer what they have to cover under their warranties. Baloney. They don’t have to cover anything, and the only reason they do is to make sure you actually will buy a car from them. It’s a business decision, nothing more, nothing less.
    Anyway, women get plenty of money thrown at them through all the offices of women’s health the government has set up for them and they live longer than men on average. So, I don’t have much sympathy that women have to actually pay their own money for a drug which basically allows them the pleasure of screwing without worrying about the consequences.

  18. AliCat
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 4:40 am | Permalink

    I find Scarbo’s comments interesting. Viagra is seen as treating a medical condition, that is the inability to achieve an erection for men, but the contraceptive pill “basically allows them (women) the pleasure of screwing without worrying about the consequences”. Hmmmmm. Isn’t the purpose of supplying a drug for men to achieve an erection so that they can “screw” as well? Obviously men do not have to worry about the consequences of their sexual activity in Scarbo’s world. Surely a woman choosing to take the contraceptive pill IS taking responsibility for her sexual activity in not conceiving unwanted children? Also, all sorts of women use the contraceptive pill. I am married, have completed my family and want no more children. Does that put me in the same category as these shameless women “screwing around”, or do we read here the implication that they might be single yet sexually active, hence morally questionable? I live in a country where this isn’t even an issue, and never has been. The contraceptive pill has been available to women for decades, subsidized by the government. The irony is that the government will not subsidize Viagra! It is interesting the way priorities and policies vary when corporate interests are removed. The American health system is driven by the profit motives of large insurance companies, mostly run by middle-aged and older males. No wonder Viagra is seen as necessary and hence paid for by them! And yes, Scarbo, using the contraceptive pill is a choice. It gives women the choice to be in charge of their fertility, and hence their lives. You come across as very bitter towards women, Scarbo. Perhaps some self-examination as to why might be in order?

  19. AJoy
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    Scarbo – I totally agree with you. I wanted to say all the things you said (except money spent on Women by Government – I was not aware of it). Very well written.
    I guess Government spending more money on Women’s health so that they live longer is part of Patriarchy.
    I have read that more people suffer because of Prostrate cancer than Breast cancer (not sure about the actual numbers). But they spend more money on Breast cancer. It is not going to change anytime soon.

  20. MLEmac
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 8:25 am | Permalink

    I went on birth control when I was 15. The reason was because my cramps were so bad I would miss 3 or 4 days of school a month, and lie in bed taking bottles of advil and tylenol, hoping that some magic combination would keep me from feeling like there was a knife in my gut. The cherry on top was when I had to run to the bathroom every half hour or so to puke. One time, after coming back from the bathroom, I collapsed in the middle of my floor, unable to get back to my bed. My sister found me and called my mom screaming “I can’t believe you won’t let her go on birth control!” Obviously it worked, cause I had an appointment the next month and was put on the Nuvaring.
    So Scarbo, for this reason I was extremely offended by your comment on how birth control is not medically necessary unless one has certain conditions. I do not have PCOS or endometriosis. My period function was perfectly “normal”, medically speaking.
    The same exact arguments can be made against drugs meant to reduce prostate size. “Well, I understand that it really hurts the guy to pee, but it’s not like it’s deadly. Besides, if insurance companies cover prostate medication because a few men want it, then it will make everyone’s premiums go up, regardless if they even have prostate issues.”
    And it’s easy to go the whole “if you don’t like the service your insurance is offering, take your business elsewhere” bullshit. Sometimes, going to another insurance company isn’t an option, especially if your insurance is covered by your job. Opting out and getting insurance elsewhere is incredibly expensive, and not affordable to many people. I love how it’s always the white, upper middle class, males, who usually work in IT that always tell us wimenz to just “take our business elsewhere”, as if we hadn’t thought of that. Sometimes that’s just not fucking possible.

  21. Jut Gory
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 8:45 am | Permalink

    MLEmac: I think the problem many of the critic here are raising is that the analogy is just not exact.
    I agree that, for many, birth control pills have a therapeutic effect in mitigating the symptoms some women experience in their cycle.
    Do you think this analogy is better (more analogous): insurance companies should cover birth control pills for women and ED medication and CONDOMS for men?

  22. MLEmac
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 9:09 am | Permalink

    Breast Cancer gets much more funding and charity because of the massive success of organizations such as Komen. I run in my local Race for the Cure every year and I have spent a great deal of time trying to raise money for Breast Cancer research. I have a very personal connection to the issue. Two of my Grandmother’s sisters died of breast cancer, and my grandmother had it, but caught it early enough that she was successfully treated. My mother and I have a high risk factor for breast cancer because of this family history. So naturally, I’m going to care a great deal about this particular issue because I am very familiar with it (duh).
    That said I also support Prostate cancer research. The fact that so much more attention and money is given to breast cancer does not mean that money and attention should be taken away from breast cancer research. Hell I think more should be given. It means that men should try and raise the same kind of awareness for their own medical issues. Start your own race for the cure. I will gladly stand on the sidelines holding a sign and cheering men on if they want to have their own 5Ks. I will support any increase in grants given to prostate research, and I will not whine about any male privilege if prostate cancer charities gain the same sort of recognition and support as breast cancer. Maybe after you gain some ground there, we can all start talking about the life expectancy gap, crime rates among males, suicide rates, I could go on.
    What it comes down to is that I, and other women, will naturally support issues that are affecting us the most, because we will be the most familiar with it and have the most emotional connection. We have been damn successful in raising this kind of awareness, and the reason men’s health issues have not gained as much ground in recent years is because they doesn’t have the same kind of PR work aiding them. So instead of whining about women’s success in this area, why don’t you do a little work to catch up? There is plenty of lab space for more research, and I will gladly support any sort of push to use it.

  23. MLEmac
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    Well, seeing as condoms aren’t a prescription, that doesn’t work either, unless you want to push to make all OTC drugs free, in that case EC should certainly be covered as well.
    I understand that Viagra and Birth Control are not a homologous pair. Obviously, when we are talking about parts of the body that are biologically different in men and women, then we are going to run into that problem. However, it is not false or far-fetched to comment on the fact that medications affecting men’s sexual health, such as viagra and prostate medicines are covered, no questions asked seems to be a double standard when there are medications affecting women’s health levels, that can treat a multitude of conditions which can cause pain and disrupt ones life (pregnancy being the ultimate disruption), as well as make the overall standard of living higher and reducing the risk for ovarian cancer, and we have to FIGHT to get coverage for these.
    I find another ridiculous double standard in the way that insurance which covers pregnancy, doesn’t cover birth control. I have a feeling that there may be a strong negative correlation between those two. Just a hunch…..

  24. 13lesslee
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 9:30 am | Permalink

    You know, I think the whole viagra is for a legitimate health condition, but birth control is a lifestyle choice crowd should just say what they really mean,
    “Viagra is something that middle-aged or elderly men use to screw their trophy wives and/or mistresses. This is of vast importance, ED can kill just like blue balls! Birth control is something sluts use to screw around without suffering the consequences. Women are sluts! Make them pay for their slut pills!”
    I’m only half-joking. This shit makes me sick. I guess in this country, massaging the ego of some old guy is of more importance than giving a woman the tools to control her family size.

  25. Okra
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 9:42 am | Permalink

    “So, I don’t have much sympathy”
    That about sums it up, eh, Scarbo and Ajoy? Add to that “I don’t have much empathy,” “I don’t have much common sense,” and “I don’t have much imagination.” These are things that have kept you, Scarbo (and presumably Ajoy, since you gave a hearty second to the former), from understanding why birth control’s accessibility should be widened by insurance companies. We’ll leave aside for now the rank overtones of misogyny in Scarbo’s phrase “the pleasures of screwing without worrying about the consequences.”
    On second thought, no we won’t.
    Watch and learn.
    You are one of the following:
    1. A woman who has never had children.
    In this case, you must also be either abstinent or do not use birth control OR contraception of any kind, condoms included, is that correct? Because a woman who denounces “the pleasure of screwing without the consequences” is clearly someone who is either entirely free from the burden of potential pregnancy, childbirth and motherhood (i.e. abstinent), or who is heedless to their perils and “screws” with total abandon, sans protection. If the latter, you mock BC-using women for their self-absorption in refusing to throw caution to the wind. This, I believe, is the only way to reconcile your gender with your contempt for women, women’s bodies and reproductive realities, and women’s choices.
    Lack of empathy with others who do not follow your personal path? Check.
    See also my advice to men, below.
    2. A woman who has had children.
    You either brought them into this world the “responsible” way–the one man, one wedding way–and thus have contempt for those who JUST CAN’T HANLE (a la Jack Nicholson) the consequences, or you fell prey to the perils of pleasure, were punished with an unwelcome baby, and believe passionately that other pleasure-seeking women should suffer just as effing much as you did. My hat is off to you, madam, for your remarkable ability to pass judgment on other women’s lives and fates (because pregnancy can be fate-altering)as a reflection of your own personal choices. You, you, you and your reproductive situation should drive insurance policy in this country, not the needs of millions of other women who may choose different life paths.
    3. A man. You have no imagination, and no empathy. You cannot stretch your mind to accept the potential terror–and it can indeed be terrifying, even to women with planned pregnancies–of a being over which you have little to no direct control stationing itself inside your body, which heretofore has been yours and for you alone, and taking over in every sense: corporeal, emotional, mental, financial, existential.
    Because you cannot or will not refuse to excercise your mind in this fashion, you view with hatred and contempt those who attempt to mitigate the potential damages of an unplanned pregnancy. As AliCat points out, these are the designated “Responsible” (TM) women; these are the ones you might be praising because they are not contributing to the glut of unwanted, impoverished kids in the U.S., right?
    And please tell me more of these “pleasure-seekers,” these wantons, these hedonists. Do they include men who wear condoms? “Men’s penises deliver semen to wombs; that’s what they’re meant for, dammit, and heaven help those men who seek pleasure untethered from this biological purpose.”
    But you haven’t made this argument, have you?
    I don’t know which of the above you are, but they all have something in common: you are a hypocrite, and one with deeply antagonistic feelings toward women generally. Your anatagonism appears to be a combination of fear and disgust of women’s bodies (your own body, perhaps?), especially in their sexual and reproductive capacities; ambivalence towards women’s attempts to take the reigns of their own lives; and contempt for women’s temerity in seeking pleasure.
    If you are a woman, I fear for your self-confidence, sense of self-worth, and lack of empathy. If you are a heterosexual man, I genuinely question how you can bring yourself to have relations–sexual, emotional, or otherwise–with these creatures for whom you bear such contempt.

  26. SarahMC
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 9:52 am | Permalink

    Wow. Some of these comments are extremely hypocritical.
    Why is a man’s loss of his erection a serious medical concern but a woman’s desire to control when she has children not?
    Pregnancy IS a medical condition. The Pill is preventative care. In addition, the Pill is prescribed to treat a number of other medical issues besides pregnancy prevention.
    It is the ultimate irony to declare that women who use contraception are not taking responsibility for sex. I suppose every single sex act is supposed to result in a baby, huh?
    Basically, what a few of you are saying is that men have a god-given right to boners but women are whores if they choose to have sex while using contraception.

  27. SarahMC
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 10:00 am | Permalink

    Furthermore, who are the Viagra-taking men having sex with? They must be sharing their newfound boners with someone (if not more than one). Could it be a filthy, hedonistic slut who uses birth control? Maybe they’re even married to filthy, hedonistic sluts on birth control! Ew!
    Or maybe they’re college dudes seeking that three hour hard-on to share with all the filthy, hedonistic sluts on campus.

  28. Jut Gory
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 10:18 am | Permalink

    SarahMC: Maybe a better way to frame the point some are trying to make is that ED is a dysfunction. While pregnancy may be a medical condition, it is not a dysfunction for which birth control is a “treatment.”
    Does that clarify the distinction?

  29. 13lesslee
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 10:34 am | Permalink

    Is it a dysfunction or is it nature’s way of telling you to keep it in your pants?
    Ok, that’s not fair.
    However, with all the slut-shaming that goes on when we talk of reproductive rights for women, I would like, just once, to turn the tables and talk about men who take viagra the same way some folks talk about women who take birth control or have abortions.
    It’s such a double standard.

  30. Ismone
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 10:47 am | Permalink

    Women upthread have explained how their menstrual cycles can be dysfunctional and cause pain.
    I have explained how pregnancy, unlike ED, can end in medical issues, and that includes death. A “dysfunction” btw is not as serious as a medical condition, such as pregnancy.
    You cannot argue with a straight face that ED is more dangerous or serious than pregnancy.
    Also, I notice you have not answered my point that it is not “normal” for a woman to ovulate every month. I am only 28, and I have already had 1 1/2 times the number of periods a normal woman used to have throughout her entire reproductive life. Which increases my risk of ovarian cancer.
    The reason people get up in arms about this is that ED, while troubling, is a sexual dysfunction, not a medical condition. It does not cause physical pain nor does it contribute to disease states. (Like PCOS, for one). The pill covers a host of medical conditions, including but not limited to pregnancy, and covering birth control is cheap compared to covering pregnancy (which companies do cover.)
    Sorry, which women’s health offices are you referring to? To my knowledge, women in this country are less likely to have medical insurance than men. Women live longer because men in general are more frail (why more male babies die and more male pregnancies miscarry) and because men, traditionally, worked outside the home and were subject to more stress. Now that women are taking on higher-stress jobs, the longevity gap is closing. That’s right, we work in your jobs, we die younger like you.

  31. 13lesslee
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 10:52 am | Permalink

    Oh and here’s a short list of dysfunctions that birth control can help treat (aside from pregnancy prevention):
    Painful or irregular periods, acne, ovarian cysts, the symptoms of endometriosis.
    I guess if we wanted to stay in line with the idea that “Viagra treats a medical condition while birth control is a lifestyle choice,” we could say that viagra treats a serious medical condition while women should just choose to suffer through unwanted pregnancy or a number of other reproductive health-related issues.
    ‘Cuz they’re not men, see?

  32. Okra
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 11:00 am | Permalink

    Ismone, engaging on the longevity point is futile. Some “what about the menz?” anti-womanists (and I am NOT saying Scarbo’s male, much less one of these) have a few paltry tracks on their record, and the “women live longer than men, so women have it better!” trope is one of them. But the turnstyle needs to screech this broken record to a damn halt.
    Let’s suppose that the “longevity gap” isn’t narrowing, and that women everywhere are just assured of living longer than men, irrespective of occupation, ethnicity, lifestyle. In all countries. For all time.
    And. So?
    Not only is this **not** evidence that women do not face human rights, workplace, reproductive, and myriad other injustices, it is irrelevant to them to begin with.
    The fact that a set of people lives longer than another has absolutely nothing to do with the quality of said lives while the people ARE on earth.
    And the quality of a life, no matter how long, is severely lessened when one faces clitoral cutting, or less pay for the same work, or tenacious sexually objectifiying reprsetation in the media, or female-only purity balls, or any other woman-restrictive custom or policy.

  33. puckalish
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 11:12 am | Permalink

    ismone, glad i refereshed, you said it so much better than i was planning on. you also left out that men tend to drink more than women, smoke more than women and drive more than women – and great paths to that last path…
    at any rate, the issue here, i think is mccain’s inability to answer the question and scarbo and friends’ arguments than BC should not be covered like Viagra is.
    i’ve got news on the economic front, though… BC is a lot cheaper than pregnancy (and do insurers HATE covering pregnancy – heck, my partner and i have to file separately, when we have health insurance money, because there’s such a premium on “risk of pregnancy”) and (according to 86% of insurers agree (and, hence, cover BC)… so it’s not really a big deal on the ground level, but rather it’s an issue that (a) mccain couldn’t seem to deal with the question (meaning he’s afraid of alienating women or he’s scared of sex, which makes me scared of him facing down much scarier issues) (b) scarbo and ajoy are mad at women for living longer and think that health care should be denied them in light of this 4-6 year life expectancy discrepancy.

  34. Jut Gory
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 11:14 am | Permalink

    Ismone: I acknowledged upthread that birth control does have many therapeutic benefits. It also has a recreational use. That is why I suggested a better analogy was women/birth control=men/viagra and condoms. if we want to get into the question game, you never answered that question.
    And, no, I am not suggesting that ED is more dangerous than pregnancy, but I am suggesting one is a dysfunctional condition and the other is a functioning condition.
    However, I am not grasping your distinction between a dysfunction and a medical condition. I would say that any dysfunction is probably a medical condition, while not every medical condition is a dysfunction. ED is a medical condition right, like kidney failure, tachycardia, acid reflux, etc.
    As for recent increased ovulation in women, you say that monthly periods are not “normal.” What does that (“normal”) mean? You are not suggesting that infrequent ovulation caused by malnutrtion is preferable or normal, right? You seem to be suggesting that, because regular ovulation creates an increased risk of ovarian cancer, birth control should be covered as a preventative measure. However, if that is the case, that would appear to suggest that birth control use should be encouraged for every woman as part of their overall health, much the way regular mammograms and pap smears are encouraged.
    You are not suggesting that, are you?

  35. SarahMC
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    Even if that’s a legitimate claim, Jut Gory, why would you privilege dysfunctions over other medical conditions?
    I take a cocktail of medications for chronic neuropathic pain. My pain is not a dysfunction. Is it somehow less serious than ED?

  36. SarahMC
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 11:24 am | Permalink

    What do you need Viagra for, Jut Gory, if not “recreational use?”

  37. 13lesslee
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 11:32 am | Permalink

    I don’t understand how the birth control pills “have a recreational use.” Does pregnancy prevention fit your definition of recreational?
    I mean, I’ve heard of sex-themed parties where men have popped viagra (whether they needed it or not) like candy in order to go for hours, but I’ve never heard of birth control being used this way.
    There is no recreational use for birth control; but there is for viagra.

  38. Jut Gory
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 11:42 am | Permalink

    SarahMC: No, I am not privileging dysfunction over medical conditions. I was responding to Ismone, who said ED is not a medical condition. I was trying to understand what she meant. (By the way, I have no problem with insurance companies covering pregnancy, but, likewise, I am not troubled that birth is not. At the same time, I would have no problem if it were covered, but I do not think the analogy to Viagra is persuasive on that point.)
    Perhaps, “recreational use” was a bad choice of words. I was trying to separate the different effects of the drugs. I am sure you agree that Viagra has no contraceptive side-effects. My ultimate point was to say that that IS one of the benefits desired by many and, to make the analogy more accurate, condoms would have to be added to the mix.

  39. SarahMC
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 11:46 am | Permalink

    If ever there was a drug intended and taken for “recreational use,” it is Viagra.
    How any man can, with a straight face, insist that the birth control pill is a recreational drug whilst Viagra is a Very Serious Drug that treats Pressing Medical Dysfunctions, is beyond me. It really is privilege in action.
    I have read comments written by men on other blogs that reflect the same attitudes we see here. It’s absolutely stunning.
    And chances are, most of these men either are in or have been in sexual relationships with women who “recreationally” take the Pill. YOU benefit from the Pill, boys.

  40. Ismone
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    Okra, that is a really good point. I shouldn’t let myself get sidetracked, but I also like what puckalish has to say about how it is correlated with lifestyle choices (which are more socially acceptable among men.) And you’re right, Okra, that although it is a problem, it is a complete non-sequiter.
    First, menstruation is not a “functioning condition” for all people. Second, pregnancy can be much more serious than a dysfunction. Not all pregnancies are “normal” and even normal pregnancies strain the body.
    Let me be really clear. A dysfunction or abnormality doesn’t necessarily have downstream affects on health. ED certainly does not. But, pregnancy and menstruation do have downstream effects, some of which are very severe and effect women’s health.
    You are comparing a less than normal function issue to a genuine health issue. Do you see the problem with that?
    “Normal” in this context means the average number of ovulations women have had throughout most of evolutionary history. And yes, although I do not take birth control as a prophylactic measure agaisnt ovarian cancer, it is not necessarily a bad idea. Ovulation does strain the ovaries.
    Does it bother you, in the slightest, that women who have menstrual dysfunction, which is PAINFUL and DEBILITATING, as some women have reported upthread (and I could tell you about my problems, if you care to hear) whereas ED doesn’t keep anyone home from work and is not painful.
    Not that sexual dysfunction isn’t a QOL issue, but it just doesn’t rank up there for me with people having to stay home from work, go through a difficult or even normal pregnancy, and have increased risk of ovarian cancer if they are denied the pill.

  41. Jut Gory
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 11:52 am | Permalink

    SarahMC: You’re last comment was a little too sarcastic.
    Let me re-cast it and see what you think: “YOU benefit from [Viagra], [girls].”

  42. 13lesslee
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Word, SarahMC.
    Every time I hear, “viagra treats a serious medical condition while birth control is a lifestyle choice,” this is what I hear
    “a man’s right to sexual pleasure overrides a woman’s right to reproductive health.”
    or shorter:

  43. 13lesslee
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 11:58 am | Permalink

    “”YOU benefit from [Viagra], [girls].”
    Not so much if we don’t a. want to get pregnant or b. have access to birth control to prevent said unwanted pregnancy.

  44. Jut Gory
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 12:02 pm | Permalink

    13lesslee: What about a. if you want to enjoy a fully and mutuall intimate and satisfying sexual relationship with your partner over the course of your life?

  45. SarahMC
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 12:08 pm | Permalink

    I stand by my sarcastic remark; we are not saying that insurance should not cover Viagra, or that Viagra is only used by [stereotype]. People ARE making that argument about the Pill.
    And it’s a lot easier for women have a satisfying sex life when they’re not fretting about having an unplanned pregnancy.
    Also, a hard penis is not required for women to enjoy sex.

  46. 13lesslee
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 12:09 pm | Permalink

    well, i guess in a perfect world we don’t have to worry about what can come from having a fully and mutually intimate and satisfying sexual relationship with your partner over the course of your life this, of course, being (dun dun dun):
    an unplanned pregnancy or two or three
    for those of us who live in reality, we have to worry about such things which is why we take birth control. so we can have the awesome sex life with our awesome partner without having to worry about unplanned pregnancies.
    but, hey, why should something like the stress of having and raising a kid take away a man’s right to his boner?

  47. 13lesslee
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 12:11 pm | Permalink

    and oh yeah, i forgot to mention- a woman can get off in other ways that don’t include a man’s erection.

  48. spike the cat
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 12:28 pm | Permalink

    “An insurance company can do whatever the heck they want to do, as they see fit to run their business, as any other corporation sees fit to run their business”
    See, even automobile insurance and home owner’s insurance companies by definition are obligated to provide a basic levels of service.
    Here’s an example:
    “The law requires insurers that sell residential property insurance in California to offer earthquake coverage to their policyholders. Residential property insurance includes coverage for homeowners, condominium owners, mobilehome owners, and renters.”
    A health insurance company likewise has obligations to provide at least some minimum standards of health care–standards that are shaped by policy and medical evidence and of which prevention and treatments fall under.
    Birth control pills do fall under this standard of care in most other industrialized countries and according to non-governmental health agencies. The claim that insurers do not have this obligation is bordering on absurdity even from a business perspective.

  49. Scarbo
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 12:38 pm | Permalink

    @Spike: so lawmakers have passed laws telling a business how to run itself. Doesn’t make it right. In fact, same insurance company can say “sod this” and turn to some other line of work if they so desire. Instead, they’ve decided to accept the regulations (and don’t think they didn’t lobby against them) and conduct business anyway.
    @less13lee: Every time I hear, “viagra treats a serious medical condition while birth control is a lifestyle choice,” this is what I hear: “a man’s right to sexual pleasure overrides a woman’s right to reproductive health.” or shorter: men>women
    Clever re-framing there. How about leaving it at “a man’s right to regain normal function” without the editorializing.
    And what does insurance have to do with “rights” anyway? Does anyone really know what “rights” are anymore? Or do we just define them conveniently as needed?
    Anyway, I suppose you can always look for ways you can cynically claim victim status if you want. While you’re at it, tell me how women’s longer average life span and gigantic heaping portions of government cash devoted to women’s health contribute to that, will ya?

  50. Jut Gory
    Posted August 1, 2008 at 12:41 pm | Permalink

    13lesslee: I know that women can get off in other ways. That is why I qualified it by saying mutually satisfying. But, I will remember your comment the next time I am accused of being sexually selfish or failing to satisfy my SO’s needs.
    Actually, on second thought, no, I won’t. I try not to be selfish in that respect.

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