Don't fall for Ted Cruz's birth control trap
Viral tweets don't tell the whole story
Just fyi there are still two spots left in my Tuscany yoga + writing retreat, in partnership with my darling long-time teacher Emily Shapiro! It’s at an organic family-owned farm in Tuscany and there will be pasta and mozzarella and wine and daily yoga and writing classes and it’s just going to be the best. Also, if you just want to come to Tuscany and not do yoga (if perhaps your partner loves yoga but you don’t wanna do it), we are offering a special price for a no-yoga retreat. Come!
If Tuscany in the fall isn’t in the cards, what about Costa Rica in the spring? Emily and I will be teaching another yoga + writing retreat from February 24-29 in Nosara.
Interest? Questions? Email email@example.com
What I’m Reading
Caught Between Borders - How bigotry and boundaries are trapping LGBT African asylum-seekers
This story of Tulsi Gabbard and the cult she grew up in — and still associates with! — is insane.
Sometimes the German language just gets it.
The View From Here
This week I’m in New York, apartment-hunting in Brooklyn, and oh. my. god. I lived primarily in New York for 15-ish years before moving to Nairobi, so I’m not new to this, but I guess I figured that by the time I was a 35-year-old married mother of two [cats] I would be moderately financially stable and actually able to find a decent apartment for a reasonable-ish (for New York) amount of money.
This has turned out to be extremely false. And not helped by a stranger eating my breakfast.
The good news is that New York continues to be the best and I am excited to live here again, if I can find a place to live that isn’t a $4,000-a-month dirt hole in the earth. We’ll see!
Don’t trust Ted Cruz on birth control. He’s playing you!
So Ted Cruz apparently supports making birth control over the counter, tweeting his agreement with Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s comment taking the same position. A lot of people applauded. And on the face of things, this sounds like a good idea! Birth control pills (and patches and injections) should 100% be over the counter.
But there’s a catch.
What Ted Cruz and several Republicans before him want to do is make birth control over the counter in order to remove it from an Affordable Care Act’s mandate that makes contraceptives, along with a long list of other preventative care services, available with no co-pay. The contraception mandate has been a long-time bugaboo for conservatives because, well, it’s about women’s health and women being able to both have sex and plan the course of their lives. It’s come under attack from a whole variety of conservative, religious and pro-life groups which have whined and even sued. Never mind that reliable, affordable contraception is the #1 most effective way to decrease the abortion rate — it also means women can do as they please, sexually, without paying the price of unplanned pregnancy, and that will not stand.
Now women’s rights opponents are getting more creative about ways to undermine the ACA’s contraception mandate, and they see over-the-counter contraception as one inroad. What they ultimately want is to pull all contraception out from ACA protection and to remove the no-copay rule. Making birth control pills over the counter would be a vehicle by which they could bring back copays for all contraceptives, including the most reliable but most expensive methods like IUDs (which, obviously, you cannot get over the counter).
There is no question that prescription-only birth control is a huge barrier to access, especially among low-income women. A doctor’s appointment plus transport plus childcare plus waiting for the prescription to be filled — it all adds up to time lost and money spent. But you are fooling yourself if you think that’s what’s motivating Cruz and his compatriots. They want birth control over the counter because (a) pharmaceutical companies will be able to sell more of it, and (b) it will further undermine the ACA, make birth control more expensive, and make it easier to deny women affordable and accessible contraception.
And remember that there are pharmacists out there who claim hormonal contraception is an “abortifacient” and, for example, refuse to fill Plan B prescriptions for rape victims. There are companies that say contraception violates their morals and they don’t want to cover it or even offer it as an option in their health plans, despite the ACA’s mandate.
Over-the-counter birth control, the way Ted Cruz imagines it, would further empower these bad actors and further undermine women’s birth control access. That is what Cruz’s support of over-the-counter contraception is about.
Here’s what else it’s about: Making it harder for young women to get birth control. In the GOP proposals, watch for things like age requirements that would put additional barriers in the way of young women seeking OTC contraception.
Here’s what to watch for: Will Cruz sign onto a bill that makes oral contraceptives over the counter and covered by the ACA and not limited by age? Patty Murray introduced a bill that would have done just that in 2015. Guess how many Republicans supported it?
Murray, along with Ayanna Pressley, are reported teed up to introduce a bill today on over-the-counter contraception. I think it’s pretty safe to say it will keep OTC contraception under the ACA and provide it with no co-pay.
Then watch what Ted Cruz does.
Please send me good apartment vibes.