Note: I wrote this post in May, but was too unwell most of the time to have energy to edit, and too tired to want to deal with comments without editing. Thankfully I’ve remembered that the trick to these things is to keep them long and picture-less so that no one will read them anyway. So here’s a whole new intro for you since no one will even remember what I’m talking about. HHS who? #DrinkTheIrony
Remember the HHS fiasco? No? C’mon, you know, the decision to give women the pill for free–sort of?
One of the things that really, really bothered me about it was hearing so many people say that the “FDA-approved contraception methods and contraceptive counseling” section of the guidelines was crucial to the health of women who might need to use the pill for therapeutic purposes.
I read in numerous places that I should rejoice about this because it would mean that there would be free treatment for women who suffer from PCOS and endometriosis! Thanks be to the government, the Catholic Church would be forced to finally provide women with legitimate healthcare.
This assertion irritated me first because the Catholic Church does not have a problem with the use of hormones for treating women’s health issues. The one example provided of a Catholic institution’s health insurance failing to provide the pill for a health issue seems clearly to me to have been a problem with our large bureaucratic health insurance system, not the Church’s moral teaching.
But, more personally, these arguments troubled me because they reveal a lack of understanding of the reality of how gynecological problems are treated in the real world. Here is a little glimpse into my life from a few months ago
. . .
I finally found a doctor who wouldn’t prescribe the pill for me. Would you like to hear more about such a grand physician? Read on!
Early this spring I went to see my primary care physician. I had a list of things I needed, including a prescription for hormones to shut my cycle back down after I had freaked out about the risk of blood clots in the previous pill. A year ago this doctor had asked me if I needed a prescription for the pill (for contraceptive purposes) and I had declined. So I thought that I could save a trip to the gynecologist and get this prescription along with everything else.
I realized that, not being a specialist in women’s health issues, this doctor might have no idea what to prescribe, so I wrote down a few possible options in case I needed to know exactly what I wanted.
But I never got to discuss choices with my doctor because she wanted to know about what I had been on before and why. When she heard that I had been taking the pill for a health issue, she said that she could not prescribe the pill for me and that I needed to see a specialist.
I nodded. I am pretty good at hiding complete shock.
Besides, the doctor’s stance made sense (at least the not prescribing medicine for specialized conditions that she isn’t trained to treat part) and everyone knows that the pill is super easy to get, right?
So I considered my other options. I have seen two other gynecologists at two different practices in the past year. The one who wrote my last prescription was the Catholic NFP specialist. Not only does it take a while to get an appointment with her, it also takes over half of a workday to make the trip to her office. And I have taken more than enough time for health issues. Scratch that. I would have to see the other doctor, or at least her practice.
Except that not only had the specialist who performed my surgery moved on from the office where I saw her, her colleague who sees patients for routine issues had also moved on, leaving only the male big-wig who spends his time in surgery or teaching, not writing prescriptions for patients not in need of surgery.
My only option was to find a new gynecologist and wait months for a new patient appointment.
Because apparently the pill is really easy to get, as long as you don’t actually need it for a health reason.
. . .
I am a woman with endometriosis who has spent most of her reproductive years without health insurance, but still struggled to receive adequate care with the best health insurance. It seems very close to insulting to those such as myself to assert that requiring all employers to pay for hormones for contraceptive purposes is somehow a service to women suffering from reproductive diseases. Say that it is good for women who want to avoid pregnancy if you like, but don’t tell me that it is about helping women who suffer from actual problems with their reproductive health. Oh wait, I just implied that pregnancy isn’t a problem in itself? We can talk about that later.
The truth is that the HHS debate was about religious freedom vs. free contraception for the purpose of preventing pregnancy. It had nothing to do with helping women with existing gynecological health problems.
I feel little kinship with some who are fighting against HHS because many of them ignorantly minimize my sickness and mock legitimate options for care. But their ignorance tends to be harmless and nothing more than pathetic.
In contrast, some of those who are fighting on behalf of the HHS mandate are baffling indeed. They use cases such mine to assert that requiring contraceptive coverage is somehow the answer for women with reproductive health problems, and that I should be happy to trade freedom of religion in for a pill.
The truth is that diseases of the female reproductive system bring a whole lot more complications than cheap pills alone can resolve. And one story of one woman’s suffering due to insurance bureaucracy and confusion is an incredibly poor reason to assert that adding more layers of government bureaucracy is a better solution than existing Catholic coverage for women who need hormonal treatment.
If you want to talk about actually helping women, if you want to talk about reducing reproductive diseases, if you want to talk about affordable health care coverage for all conditions, I am all ears. But please, please do not tell me that the money I give to my local Catholic school needs to be used to pay for contraceptives because “women with endometriosis need it.”
Money for contraceptives has nothing to do with endometriosis and receiving adequate care, okay?
Real health issues are really complex. Please don’t gloss over the intricacies of reality. And please do not use my health condition as a political joke to reduce my religious freedom.
- Dark Waltz
- Sick Is The New Healthy