Just So We're Clear: Birth Control Is Absolutely Necessary For Health

photographed by Jessica Nash.
An article published yesterday on The Federalist, a conservative news site, calls out feminists for "hysteria concerning the contraception opt-out" that Trump is allowing for employers with religious objections to providing birth control coverage in their health insurance plans. "Stop Denying Science. Birth Control Isn’t Necessary For Women’s Health," the article's title proclaims.
Plenty of people immediately reacted to such a bold headline, of course, and among them was Twitter's favorite OB-GYN Dr. Jen Gunter.
Gunter wrote a response to the article on her personal blog, stating that this argument is "an anti-science, misogynistic screed on contraception." She first takes issue with how the author — who is a family practitioner in Washington, DC — addresses women. "I wonder if the women using this hashtag [#Fight4BirthControl] understand how the contraception mandate works. Or how insurance works. Or birth control itself, for that matter," she wrote.
Gunter points out that this sentence immediately discredits women's intelligence. Of course we know how birth control works. Yet, it seems that we could flip the same questions back on Duane herself. Doesn't she understand that the ability to plan when you start a family is vital to a person's health? Not to mention the number of ways birth control has been proven to aid in women's health that have nothing to do with pregnancy.
"The medical benefits of surviving pregnancy and spacing pregnancies not withstanding," Gunter wrote, "hormonal contraception has been proven to offer a multitude of other non pregnancy related medical benefits." Those benefits include treatment for heavy menstrual bleeding, acne, hirsutism (an overgrowth of male-pattern hair), polycystic ovarian syndrome, painful periods, menstrual migraines, endometriosis, and cancer risk.
But, as plenty of people including Gunter have pointed out, birth control is also really good for, you know, preventing pregnancies. And that's not only a completely valid reason to use it, but also important for women's health.
"The WHO also states that contraception contributes to 'individuals being able to take control over their sexuality, health and reproduction, thus helping them to achieve a satisfying sexual life.' A sexual life seems like a rather important reproductive issue," Gunter wrote in response to Duane's argument that birth control "doesn't treat reproductive problems well."
Clearly, Duane's argument is misguided and refuses to acknowledge the science that proves birth control has a positive impact on the health and wellbeing of women. "It is no wonder Dr. Duane did not provide any supporting data for her arguments," Gunter wrote.
While Gunter's remark is subtly savage, it's a little worrisome that Duane is a family doctor. While she seems to be someone who promotes Natural Family Planning — a form of birth control that relies on tracking your menstrual cycle — it's important that doctors don't ignore scientific evidence or dole out treatment suggestions based on their own religious beliefs.
Science is science. And, while she argued differently, it's pretty clear that Duane is the one getting the science wrong here.
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