Merkley: Birth control access is an economic issue

Kari Chisholm FacebookTwitterWebsite

"In the blue-collar community that I live in, in working America, a month's wages is a very big deal."

Yesterday, the Senate debated a bill to overturn the ridiculous Hobby Lobby decision that allows employers to declare a religious objection to complying with the federal law mandating birth control coverage in all insurance plans.

Many conservatives have been running around saying that the decision doesn't bar anyone from getting birth control; just the insurance to cover it. Well, you can always count on our own Senator Jeff Merkley to make it absolutely clear how these policies impact working-class families in blue-collar neighborhoods:

You can watch his entire seven-minute speech. Here's the section that really hit home with me:

It really is about women's access to fundamental health care. Whether contraceptives are used for family planning or for painful medical conditions like endometriosis, birth control is essential health care for millions of Americans.

And while some are trying to say that this case has nothing to do with access to birth control, that is simply not true.

For most working families affordability is access.

Without insurance, birth control can cost tens of thousands of dollars over a lifetime. A third of women in America say they have struggled with the cost of birth control at some point in their lives.

For a working family getting by month to month, often paycheck to paycheck, these costs -- though they might be dismissd by Washington pundits and even politicians here across the aisle -- those costs add up. And they can put contraception out of reach.

And a lack of insurance coverage can certainly make certain kinds of contraception totally unafforable.

As Justice Ginsburg noted in her dissent, the upfront cost of an IUD is equivalent to nearly a month's wages for a minimum-wage worker. In the blue-collar community that I live in, in working America, a month's wages is a very big deal. Not having insurance coverage equals not having access.

Meanwhile, his opponent -- Monica Wehby -- has been parroting those right-wing talking points. Gee, what's the big deal? Just pay for it yourself! Easy for a pediatric neurosurgeon to say.


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