Thanks to NARAL Oregon, dentists will now advise poor women about birth control

We’ve all likely heard the argument people like to use about how if you don’t like something, don’t use it or don’t do it, but don’t take away somebody else’s “right.” It’s commonly stated when it comes to abortion and contraception. That argument is already weakened when we consider the number of coerced abortions, but it may further be weakened when it comes to contraception.

A recent piece from Public Discourse warns “Attention, Low-Income Women of Oregon: Your Reproduction Is Now the Government’s Business.” The piece explains that the state has implemented a new contraception metric. Low-income women who receive government-funded health services will now be bombarded with questions about their plans for pregnancy and contraception methods…

Oregon is the first state in the nation to adopt a new Medicaid evaluation tool that evaluates Medicaid providers by the percentage of their female patients who use “effective” contraception. They are evaluated against a new contraceptive metric that assesses “effective contraceptive use among women at risk of unintended pregnancy.”

Oregon’s Medicaid contraceptive metric is based on an initiative of the Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health (OFRH), which is an entity of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon. Under the OFRH’s One Key Question initiative, primary care providers are encouraged to ask women of reproductive age, “Would you like to become pregnant in the next year?” and provide counseling based on the woman’s answers, either preconception care or contraceptive counseling. If she answers that she is “Unsure or Ok Either Way,” then she will still receive counseling on birth control.

A particularly alarming part of the piece is referred to as “One Inescapable, Intrusive, Repeated Question.” This is so aptly titled because a woman may not merely be asked about her contraception methods by one caregiver, but by multiple ones, including even her dentist.

Public Discourse refers to Michele Stranger Hunter,  the executive director of the Oregon Foundation for Reproductive Health and the executive director of NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon:

Stranger Hunter said that Jackson and Josephine counties would soon implement One Key Question “throughout the healthcare delivery system.” She said, “It will be at every point of service, whether you are a private practitioner, a public health program, a human service program, or a dentist. I got to love this – dentist,” said Stranger Hunter….

But the government-imposed questioning doesn’t stop at the woman’s doctor’s office. In July 2014, it was reported that the One Key Question initiative was being integrated into home visiting programs in the state. As a result, women will not be able to escape this NARAL Pro-Choice Oregon-inspired questioning, even in the privacy of their own homes. The One Key Question initiative is also being integrated as part of WIC screening by some WIC providers in the state. This is the program that provides women with essential food supplementation to help feed their children.

The piece’s primary focus is on Catholic women who may have a religious objection to contraception. Thus there certainly is a very real concern for religious freedom issues of a woman is constantly bombarded about a matter which could violate her faith.

There are other causes for concern as well. Some women may have a moral objection to birth control which isn’t necessarily or solely religious in nature. They may also be against it for health reasons. Public Discourse does reference those concerns, as it applies to how the government is ignoring them:

It doesn’t matter that there is a growing body of research regarding the serious health risks that particular forms of birth control pose to women, including the classification of some hormonal contraceptives as a group one carcinogen by the World Health Organization. And women are being subjected to these health risks, despite the fact that the general purpose of contraception is not aimed at healing the woman—it is not health care designed to make the woman healthy.

There are plenty of causes for concern when it comes to Oregon’s program, religious or otherwise. For the women who live in the state and happen to use government-funded programs, they may suffer the consequences for saying thanks but no thanks to contraception. How forward, isn’t it?

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