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My mom got me a subscription to Prevention this year, and it's a nice little health magazine that rarely treads into any topic more controversial than how to do the best tummy crunches. But nestled in with this month's innocuous reports on supplements and smoothies is a surprisingly political article on how some doctors and pharmacists -- emboldened, perhaps, by the Bush administration's "we don't need no stinkin' facts" approach to women's health -- are refusing to give women birth-control pills. Even if the women have been using them for years. Even if they're not using them for contraception.
From the article:
In April, Julee Lacey, 33, a Fort Worth, TX, mother of two, went to her local CVS drugstore for a last-minute Pill refill. She had been getting her prescription filled there for a year, so she was astonished when the pharmacist told her, "I personally don't believe in birth control and therefore I'm not going to fill your prescription." Lacey, an elementary school teacher, was shocked. "The pharmacist had no idea why I was even taking the Pill. I might have needed it for a medical condition."
Melissa Kelley, 35, was just as stunned when her gynecologist told her she would not renew her prescription for birth control pills last fall.
"She told me she couldn't in good faith prescribe the Pill anymore," says Kelley, who lives with her husband and son in Allentown, PA. Then the gynecologist told Kelley she wouldn't be able to get a new prescription from her family doctor, either. "She said my primary care physician was the one who helped her make the decision."
Lacey's pharmacist and Kelley's doctors are among hundreds, perhaps thousands, of physicians and pharmacists who now adhere to a controversial belief that birth control pills and other forms of hormonal contraception--including the skin patch, the vaginal ring, and progesterone injections--cause tens of thousands of "silent" abortions every year. Consequently, they are refusing to prescribe or dispense them.
Limiting access to the Pill, these groups now say, threatens a basic aspect of women's health care. An estimated 12 million American women use hormonal contraceptives, the most popular form of birth control in the United States after sterilization. The Pill is also widely prescribed by gynecologists and family doctors for other uses, such as clearing up acne, shrinking fibroids, reducing ovarian cancer risk, and controlling endometriosis.
"Where will this all stop?" asks Lacey.
But at what point does personal belief undermine public health? If more women lose access to hormonal contraceptives, rates of unintended pregnancy and abortions will rise in the US, predicts Beth Jordan, MD, medical director of the Washington, DC-based Feminist Majority Foundation, an advocacy and research group.
What's more, oral contraceptives aren't only used to prevent pregnancy. The Pill may cut the risk of ovarian cancer by up to 80% and is used by women at high genetic risk for this hard-to-detect and usually fatal cancer. "There are easily more than 20 noncontraceptive uses for the Pill in common practice," says Giovannina Anthony, MD, an attending physician of obstetrics and gynecology at Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City. "This drug saves women from surgery for gynecological conditions like endometriosis, fibroids, and severe bleeding and pain."
Planned Parenthood's [Gloria] Feldt believes anti-Pill groups, like the larger anti-abortion movement that spawned them, have been emboldened by the Bush administration's antiabortion policies and appointees. "Pro-life groups know they have friends in high places," she says. In his first budget to Congress, President Bush stripped out a provision that required insurance companies participating in the Federal Employees Health Benefits Program to cover contraceptives. He has also withheld funding for international family planning; signed the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban Act of 2003, which critics say could result in making even second-trimester abortions illegal; and signed the Unborn Victims of Violence Act, which gives a fertilized egg, embryo, or fetus separate legal status if harmed during a violent crime. (Abortion rights groups say that giving a fetus separate legal rights from the pregnant woman opens the door to prosecuting anyone involved in an abortion.)
Bush also appointed three antiabortion doctors to the FDA Reproductive Health Drugs Advisory Committee: W. David Hager, MD, Susan Crockett, MD, and Stanford. When their committee and the FDA's Nonprescription Drugs Advisory Committee met jointly last December, the group voted 23 to 4 in favor of giving over-the-counter status to emergency contraceptives. Dissenters included Hager, Crockett, and Stanford. In May, the FDA decided not to grant the drug OTC status.
Read the article. It's chilling. Then give money to Planned Parenthood. Because if these doctors get their way, PP may be the only place some women will be able to get contraception.
And then vote this fucking fundamentalist regime out of office in November!
Replies: 10 Confessions
Jeeeeebus fucking christ on a goddamned cracker. Just when you think that the mal-formed mutants of the right wing can't get any scarier, there they go, sneaking another one under the wire.
Shit like this that makes me so glad to be an old maid. But it scares the hell out of me, for my nieces and all the other young girls who may be "talked out of" birth control by spineless hacks who don't deserve a medical license.
Fucking freaks, the whole lot of 'em. I hope that every single female doctor and pharmacist who plays into this shit gets fibroid tumors the size of wiffle balls, and I hope the shrivelled testicles of those power-mad sexist-pig male doctors drop right down into their socks, so that THEY can step on them, like I'd like to do.
Absofuckinglutely batshit. Unconscionable. What fucking mutant with even one brain cell would REFUSE BIRTH CONTROL?!?!?!?
What, we don't have ENOUGH starving people on this planet????
Great piece, but you have definitely bummed me the hell out. Now I have to go tell everybody else.
Anntichrist Coulter @ 07/05/2004 09:44 PM CST
I'm just wondering - what if a woman has an extrauterine pregnancy, for example in a fallopian tube? Is she supposed to just die? And is that really just a rhetorical question?
elavil @ 07/06/2004 03:02 PM CST
Whatever happened to "First, do no harm"??
Sounds more like the Hypocritical Oath to me.
Sinfonian @ 07/06/2004 03:14 PM CST
After giving to PP, anyone encountering physicians and pharmacists who deny scientifically-established and federally-approved treatments should also contact their insurance carriers as well as relevant state licensing boards to offer said "professionals" the opportunity to justify their actions to third-party payers and professional oversight groups.
RIposte @ 07/06/2004 06:45 PM CST
This is just unbelievable. Every morning I feel like I've awakened into a goddamn Star Wars movie. When is this nightmare going to be over?
Any doctor who refuses birth control should have his "practice" rubbished - exposed as malpractice. This is a throwback to the Middle Ages (except that abortion wasn't a serious crime even then.)
JC @ 07/06/2004 11:45 PM CST
thanks for posting this Miz Rubbernun. I linked to the prevention article in my journal, along with Mancoon's recent brush with his batshit fundie (soon to be former) insurance agent.
I think the pharmacists should be shit canned for 'inablity to carry out their duties'. after all, it is their fucking job to fill 'scripts, and failure to do so is a failure to do. their.fucking.job.
shechemist @ 07/07/2004 12:28 PM CST
What if your pharmacist converts to Christian Science? Can they say, "sorry, I don't believe in using drugs to combat disease so no antibiotics for your pneumonia."
Do you think that these pharmacies still sell condoms? It's getting to be pretty Taliban around this country...
Captain Caseous @ 07/08/2004 01:00 AM CST
I am a big supporter of Planned Parenthooh. When I turned 35 I wanted to get OFF the pill because I am a smoker and the hormones were doing nothing good for me. I then decided upon an IUD which has no hormones,lasts 10 years and only costs $500.00. Well you would thought that I has a criminal for wanting on since I don't have any children. The ONLY place I could get an IUD was at the Seattle Planned Parenthood. I was rejected from the NYC and Miami Planned Parenthoods as well as numerous private doctors. The shocking part is that it would have been no big deal for me to have an abortion. The big deal was actually getting BIRTH CONTROL. What is this country coming to?
Susan @ 07/08/2004 06:26 PM CST
I read this article. Believe me, there's worse to come if things don't change. Women's health attitudes are f-ed up enough as it is, thank you very much. We don't really need to go back to the Dark Ages.
ABB @ 07/14/2004 03:44 PM CST
It's interesting how you mention the doctors restricting BC meds alongside the "we don't need no stinkin' facts" attitude of the president, when it's obvious you haven't done the tiniest amount of research on their main argument (that it causes silent abortions).
I suppose it's easier to call anyone who doesn't believe in your ill-formed opinions a 'sexist male nazi pig' than to actually find out how abortions are done.
Here's an idea: do a Google image search for 'suction aspiration' (some dramamine might come in handy)- 'reproductive rights' will take on a whole meaning, I'm sure!
sexist_nazi @ 12/09/2004 10:56 PM CST