No Choice Without Access

When I was twenty, after years of ridiculously unpredictable periods, painful and debilitating cramps that left me curled up in a ball around a heating pad, and mood swings that scared me and everyone else I interacted with (all of which had started out as almost nothing and gotten worse as I got older), I realized I didn’t have to deal with these issues that sometimes forced me to skip classes so and stay in bed for a day or two at least.  While I was home for a weekend, I visited the local Planned Parenthood and left with a prescription for the Pill. I had never had sex – I didn’t even actually have a boyfriend. Now, a little over two years later, that’s not the case. You know what is? I have a Bachelor’s degree, will be starting grad school in August, and I couldn’t have done either one if I had wound up with a kid I didn’t want and couldn’t care for.

The Institute of Medicine recently recommended to the Department of Health and Human Services that insurance companies be required to cover contraception – with no co-pay. My instantaneous reaction to this discovery was an overwhelming sense of relief, but as I considered the actual implications of this recommendation and the opposition to it, my optimism began to fade.

That’s not to say I don’t support this method of increasing access to birth control. I do. All women should have access to understandable and accurate information about any form of birth control they are interested in. That’s the thing about birth control – while hormonal birth control might work for one woman, it may cause side effects that another can’t or doesn’t want to deal with. Another woman may choose to avoid any chemical form of birth control based on personal beliefs. All three of these women deserve ACCESS to fact-based information regarding all the options available to them. Without access to accurate information, these women are already being denied a choice.

The IOM’s recommendation is by no means a guarantee that no-cost birth control will happen. If it does, there will be logistics to figure out – including what counts as “birth control” that is covered. Does this include information about natural forms of birth control? When it comes to reproductive health, the key is choice. Control of a woman’s choices must be hers alone, but without access to information or to birth control, those choices are limited. I sincerely hope HHS will take the IOM’s recommendation seriously and make no-cost birth control a reality. Even a $5 co-pay can prevent some women from being able to make that choice – higher co-pays make it even harder for women to be able to make that choice.

I was and am incredibly lucky. I can easily afford my $5 co-pay, though my insurance coverage is lacking for actual appointments in my area. Many women aren’t so lucky. I will not take my good fortune for granted, and I will fight to make sure all women have the same options I have. Without access, there is no choice. Without choice, there is no freedom. Denying freedom to at least half the population is unacceptable.

Support no-cost birth control? Sign the petition here

See the other posts in the “We’ve Got You Covered” Birth Control Blog Carnival here

Surprised by the Verdict in Casey Anthony’s Trial? I’m Not.

At 2:15pm today, the jury of the Casey Anthony trial re-entered the courtroom and the verdict was delivered. Casey Anthony was found not guilty of First Degree Murder, not guilty of Aggravated Child Abuse, and not guilty of Aggravated Manslaughter of a Child. She was found guilty of four counts of Giving False Information to a Law Enforcement Officer in Reference to a Missing Person (understandable given that they did say, in court, that the story about Caylee being taken by a nanny was a lie).

Within minutes, if not seconds, social media outlets Facebook and Twitter were flooded with posts expressing different opinions about whether the verdict was correct or not.

I will not say whether or not that verdict is correct or not – at least not in terms of whether or not Caylee Anthony was killed by her mother. I don’t know if Casey Anthony killed her daughter, if the girl drowned by accident, or if aliens came down and stole her away, returning her body later. And nobody else who is passing judgement on this does either. The only living person who could know with absolute certainty what happened is Casey herself, and, given the extraordinary lengths the human mind can and will go to in order to cope with things it finds unpleasant or traumatizing, Casey herself may not be entirely sure of what happened. All we are left with now, three years after the tragedy of Caylee’s death, are perceptions and stories.

All that being said, I will say that, in terms of the way the United States Justice System runs, the verdict returned was correct. The burden of proof in a trial does not lie with the defense, but with the prosecution. I challenge any reader (if I manage to get any) to find me hard evidence that proves what happened three years ago. It cannot be denied that the circumstances surrounding the two-year-old’s death were suspicious, nor that Casey’s response to her daughter’s disappearance is difficult to understand or justify. Regardless of the cause of Caylee’s death, her mother certainly did not help the investigation by delaying it with lies and misinformation. However, nothing proves what happened. Physical evidence is sparse in this case, and nothing presented in court undoubtedly names Casey Anthony as her daughter’s murder. That, my friends, is what we call “reasonable doubt,” and, therefore makes the verdict of the jury unsurprising.

While I understand everyone is entitled to their own opinion regarding anything in life, including this case, I have to ask, what information are you basing your opinion on? Unless you’ve been exposed to the massive quantities of potential evidence in this case, or at least following the trial on TV, where does your opinion come from? Most people only know what they know about this case from what has been reported in the media.

News flash: the media has pegged Casey Anthony as guilty for almost as long as this case has been covered, and that causes an extreme amount of  bias – bias that has been repeated over and over and is easy to accept without questioning.

If this is not your only source of information, I apologize for the generalization, but for the majority of America (and the world) the opinions expressed sound like verbatim echoes of the character bashing and accusations of the media rather than researched and well thought out arguments.

I will not profess to be an expert on the case; I am also not out proclaiming Casey Anthony as guilty or innocent. All I ask is that before others do so, they use logic, rationality, and sense in drawing their conclusions. Given the severity of the punishment of this case, it is understandable that the jury wanted to be sure of guilt if they were to give a verdict of guilty, and, given the case I watched, I can’t blame them for doubting the “proof” offered by the state.