The birth control debate is ignoring what matters: sick children

Contraception will not be banned. We know this. Democrats know it. Republicans know it. But that doesn’t mean it should be free, despite the fact that law students like Sandra Fluke believe birth control is a natural human right and preventative care. Those against free birth control list a variety of reasons to be in opposition to it, including the fact that certain types cause abortion; free birth control is anti-feministhealthcare premiums will rise; and birth control is not healthcare. All of these are legitimate, solid points. But when it comes to the fact that birth control is not healthcare, it doesn’t even matter if to some women it is. Healthcare isn’t free anyway. And children without it are the ones who are suffering.

One evening last August, I sat in bed watching the news while my baby and husband were asleep next to me, and my toddler was tucked into bed. As I listened to the report that birth control would be free in exactly one year, I felt my stomach sink. Why on earth, I wondered, would birth control of all things be free? After all, there’s already a free, all-natural birth control available called Natural Family Planning. I felt dizzy, nauseous, and so incredibly angry. How could any autonomous woman with any self-worth who knows that it is her own personal choice to take birth control and engage in sex expect to get birth control for free when so many sick children can’t afford their medications? It became obvious to me that the sense of entitlement that plagues this country had gone too far.

Every day, parents of children like mine whom have special health needs have to decide between paying for their child’s treatments and paying the mortgage. Healthcare premiums are constantly rising while insurance companies cover less and less of the costs of medications and doctor visits. Yet people want birth control to be paid in full by insurance companies. Our health insurance only covers 50% of my child’s life-saving medications. Why should they cover 100% of someone’s birth control? Luckily for us, our state has a phenomenal supplemental insurance system for children with special health care needs which allows us to receive her expensive medications for very small co-pays and often for free. One of her medications alone is over $2,000 a month. The enzymes that keep her from starving to death are nearly $1,000 a month. The machine that shakes mucus from her lungs cost $16,000. Families like mine are forced to quit their jobs to care for their child or change them significantly in order to receive Medicaid for their child. They have to give up their homes. They have to fundraise for the money to pay for surgeries. They sacrifice all of their own wants in order to find the best way to care for their child.

Please don’t think I’m complaining about the costs of raising a child with a chronic health condition. I’m not. Her life is worth every penny in the world. I would gladly work harder, cut coupons, work nights, and skip a haircut if it meant she was taken care of. The joy of her life is immeasurable. What I’m not willing to do is pay higher premiums to my health insurance company to cover the cost of other women’s elective birth control. If any prescriptions should be free in this country, it’s the ones that belong to children. Therefore, to those of you who expect your birth control to be paid for, please remember that sex and birth control are not the same as oxygen. You can live without them, but children will and do suffer and die without their medications.

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