Actually, Choice IS an Economic Issue

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At American University, I’m used to seeing my professors featured in the national media. Normally its quite a fun experience, and at a school as politically active as ours (actually, we are the most politically active school, according to the Princeton Review) its great to learn from Professors who are active, intelligent, and politically connected. But I have to say, I was disappointed by an article written by Executive in Residence Anita McBride that was posted on CNN earlier this week, titled “Why Paul Ryan Is Not ‘Bad’ For Women.” In it, she argues the Republican line that although Ryan has recently become a flash point for women’s social issues, he isn’t really ‘bad’ for women because he’ll address their economic issues. However, this argument completely ignores the fact that for women, choice and contraception issues are economic issues.

Let’s start with an issue that affects the young women at American University: contraception coverage. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, contraception must now be offered without a co-pay or a deductible, saving us a lot of money which can now be used to purchase textbooks and other needed schoold supplies. Remember Sandra Fluke? The media may have focused more on the controversy surrounding her being barred from testifying, but her testimony is worth a read. In it, she details the financial struggles endured by college students who used to have to pay out of pocket for contraception.

There are other long-term costs associated with access to birth control. Several of the women mentioned in Sandra Fluke’s testimony suffer from polycystic ovarian syndrome, or similar health issues, that require them to take contraception. When the cost of contraception grew unaffordable and one woman had to stop taking her medication, she developed cysts that required the removal of one of her ovaries and could potentially cause long term health problems. Several other women faced similar risks. These surgeries and related treatements are expensive and place a huge financial burden on women. And that’s not even taking into account the loss of productivity related to a prolonged illness and multiple hospital visits.

So when I look at the Presidential election, how can I not view Ryan’s positions on contraception as anything but an economic issue? Barack Obama passed a law which provides me free access to birth control, saving me money in the short and long term. Paul Ryan cosponsored the Sanctity of Human Life Act , which would effectively ban most forms of birth control, costing me thousands in the short and long term.

Contraception does one other very important thing: it prevents unintended pregnancies. Avoiding becoming pregnant allows me to stay in school, focus on my studies, and pursue a career, all of which help secure my long term economic stability. These are also good reasons for keep abortion legal and accessible. According to the Guttmacher Institute, three-fourths of women who have an abortion do so because they can’t afford to have a child; three-fourths of women also say that having a child would interfere with work or school.

By the way, it’s not entirely clear that Ryan’s policies would actually make women’s economic situation any better. For starters, he voted against the Lily Ledbetter act, which would help women achieve wage equity with men. And although Ms. McBride expressed concern for women who are struggling financially, she fails to mention that Paul Ryan’s proposed budget would make devastating cuts to many social programs that women who are struggling financially rely on, such as housing assistance and food stamps. Ezra Klein also has a very compelling article explaining how Paul Ryan isn’t as much of a defecit hawk as he’s perceived to be.

The bottom line is that Paul Ryan is ‘bad’ for women, in all respects. The “War on Women” isn’t just a culture war, it is also an economic war. The “War on Women” is not the result of media hype, as Ms. McBride claims, and Republicans ignore the economic impacts of contraception and abortion access to their party’s peril. In closing, Ms. McBride states that: “American women have to ask themselves if they want a federal government that respects their hard-earned dollars as much as it respects their right to choose.” I’ll have a candidate that respects both, please, and that candidate isn’t Paul Ryan.

Disclaimer: This post was written by a Feministing Community user and does not necessarily reflect the views of any Feministing columnist, editor, or executive director.

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