More on Medical Freedom

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A little birdie (who happens to be my boss) reminded me that while I'm on the topic of reproductive choice and medical freedom, I might link to this previous column I wrote on making oral contraception in general over-the-counter (actually, I'd be happy with behind-the-counter).

Having spoken with the kind people at a local branch of Planned Parenthood just the other day, I'm reminded again that it's as much well-meaning health care practitioners as it is the law that's putting unecessary obstacles between women and birth control. (The law, of course, enables them.)

But whatever my complaints, I'm really glad Planned Parenthood exists. Given the status quo, the organization is filling a real hole in affordable women's health care, in a very supportive environment. I do wish that when they send me letters asking for donations, they'd give me the option to limit my contributions to actual upkeep of the clinics, rather than have them used to support a raft of political activities. Someday I will get around to writing them a letter about this.

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  1. I worry that many of my friends send checks to Planned Parenthood not to maintain clinics, but to support a raft of political activities.

  2. Condoms are available over the counter. Foam, suppositories and spermatocides are available over the counter.

    Pill over the counter?

    Perhaps you don’t realize what women are checked for in their yearly checkup for birth control pills.

    First, Pap smears. For cancer of the cervix. Thirty years ago, we saw this in the promicuous and in thirty year old ladies. We now see pre cancerous changes in 16 year old girls. Prior to pap smears, 40 000 women died of cancer of the cervix a year. Now it’s about 8000 a year, mainly in minority women who don’t get yearly examinations.
    Pap smears allow pre cancerous changes to be found while still curable via culposcopy, freezing or local removal. No yearly pap smears, and we may face 100 000 cases of invasive cancer of the cervix per year.

    Second, sex education. Every doctor can tell of women who took the pill only on the days she had intercourse, not daily. Or of the lady who missed a couple, and kept taking it into the fifth month of pregnancy, until she recognized she was getting fat.

    And the pregnancy rate for young teens on birth control pills is 10 to 20 percent, because young teens “forget” to take them properly. If I have a 14 or 15 year old sexually active girl, I put her on Depo Provera, not the pill. Make the pill over the counter, and we will see an increase in pregnancy in these young girls…

    Third, checks for Chlamydia and gonorrhea. Chlamydia is a major cause of infertility. Gonorrhea causes “pelvic inflammatory disease” which is an abcess of the fallopian tubes, which can lead to hospitalization and infertility and chronic pelvic pain.

    The dirty little secret is that all of these are “STD” related problems (cancer of the cervix comes from the wart virus, and is not found in virgins). If they want to avoid going to the doctor, let them use rubbers and foam. These forms of birth control will also protect them from STD’s.

    From a public health standpoint, over the counter pills would be a disaster.

  3. I respect the libertarian point to making contraceptives and abortion safe, legal, and freely available… but I get the impression that most of the the pro-abortion folks don’t have a libertarian bone in their bodies; and they won’t be satisfied until abortions and contraceptives are hawked by Iranian street vendors on every corner. The fight against the partial birth abortion ban is a good example of their absolutism in action…

  4. Thanks Nancy good information.

  5. Omnibus Bill,
    The fight against the ban on “partial birth” abortion was not in any way a frivolous one. There is a big misconception about them. The anti-abortion crowd tries to portray it as a procedure that happens to healthy 8 month old fetuses, where in fact, it is in nearly every case it is preformed on 4-5 month old fetuses with that are diseased, deformed, or are likely to die and/or kill the mother at birth. The ban on partial birth abortions had no exeptions for the health of the woman, or the inhumanity of bringing a crippled vegitable into the world.
    I am mysified at people who think that politicions are more apt to make decisions regarding a womans health than their doctors.

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