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    The movie tells the story of Margaret Sanger (Dana Delany, China Beach) fight for women’s health through family planning and sex education in the early 1900s. The story takes place in New York City where despairing, women are forced mainly by economics to end unwanted pregnancies themselves.

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The War on Women’s Health, Part 7: American Individualism

The War on Women’s Health

Part 7: American Individualism

Individualism is as individual does

By Truthmonk
December 7, 2012

The Apollo 11 Mission

Mission Objective
Apollo 11 was the first manned mission to land on the Moon with Americans Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. This completed a national goal set by President John F. Kennedy on May 25, 1961. Armstrong became the first to step onto the lunar surface on July 21, 1960 at 02:56 UTC.


American Individualism

United States Conference of Catholic Bishops run into trouble with the unique American ideology of American Exceptionalism, especially the doctrine of American Individualism.

American Individualism

Photograph by dominiqueb from flickr
The 17th-century English philosopher John Locke called them natural rights1, the Founding Fathers called them unalienable rights2 but whatever they are called, they are basic human rights3 that every human being is born with and these rights cannot, by any contract or compact, be surrendered by citizens to the sovereign.

Individual rights are undoubtably subject to various disputes, but almost nobody denies

Ayn Rand
Ayn Rand
Photograph from The Ayn Rand Institute/Phyllis Cerf
that individuals have rights. Group rights, by contrast, are contentious with many people, such as Ayn Rand4 (Rep. Paul Ryan’s guru), who reject the very idea that groups can have any rights.

  There are only the Rights of Man — rights possessed by every individual man and by all men as individuals.

Ayn Rand
 

While individuals have intrinsic value, groups do not. Without having intrinsic value, groups at best can have only the instrumental value given to it from its individual human members.

Even the Catholic vision of religious freedom is “rooted in the inherent dignity of every human person,” admitted Bishop William E. Lori speaking On behalf of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishop, [8] and is “understood as an individual right…so protects each person individually.”

Lori quoting the Second Vatican Council, Dignitatis Humanae, No. 3, wrote, “Therefore individuals (emphases added) are ‘not to be forced to act in manner contrary to [their] conscience,’ nor ‘restrained from acting in accordance with [their] conscience.’

The concept of that individual rights trumps group rights has given rise to American Individualism.

One of the fundamental underpinnings of American society is the concept of individualism.5 Individualism comes out of the theory of natural rights6 where the individual is “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights.” I.e. natural rights that are not based upon the whims of any particular group, culture, or government.

Individualism is personal liberty “valuing the individual’s interest, purpose, and conscience over the demands of groups, authorities, and custom – over feudal lords, churches, states, bosses, even household patriarchs.”7

Thus individualism demands the logical priority of the individual over society or its institutions.

In the present case it’s the women’s religious beliefs on the use of contraceptives and their right to control their own bodies that must take precedence over the beliefs of the Church if we are to honor American Exceptionalism/American Individualism.


Summary

It’s been nearly 40-years since the Dark Century was ended by the 1973 Roe v. Wade SCOTUS decision. However the minuscules of the conservative Republican realm never have forgotten their defeat. Now they use their hollow-point “attack on religious freedom” and “it’s my money” bullets to provide cover for their belief that no one has the “right to copulate with a feeling of security that there will be no resulting conception.”

The new guidelines ensure women will receive preventive contraceptive health services (PCHS) at no additional cost to stop health problems before they start by requiring most health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive services without charging a co-pay, co-insurance or deductible. It even had an olive branch exemption to allow certain non-profit religious organizations not to provide contraception coverage.

The medical need for PCHS has been firmly established. It is supported by multiple professional medical organizations. The National Academy of Sciences’ Institute of Medicine concluded that “the full range of Food and Drug Administration-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for women with reproductive capacity” should be provided as a preventive service for women.

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, the nation’s leading group of physicians providing health care for women, has stated, “Family planning services, including contraceptives, are vital for women’s health and well-being.”8

American Medical Women’s Association, an organization supporting women physicians since 1915, has stated, “The availability of high quality, comprehensive reproductive health care for women have been shown to have a dramatically positive impact on the health of people in general, and in particular in reducing maternal and infant mortality.”9

And the 3.1 million member American Nurses Association in a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius said, “family planning services are vital for women’s health and well-being” and “should not depend on her employer type.”10

In addition, 28 states have effectively endorsed it since they have similar requirements under their state regulations.

The reason these medical organizations have come out so strongly in favor PCHS are the advantages that family planning affords. The CDC has written that family planning is one of the ten greatest 20th century public health achievements.

Besides the advantages of small family size, family planning has allowed American family size to drop from about 10 children to today’s 2.1, there are numerous medical advantages for both mother and child.

To realize the positive healthy outcome that preventive contraceptive services promise, pregnancies need to be planned. “Planned pregnancies—for which most women require contraception— allow women to optimize their own health before pregnancy and childbirth, leading to healthier pregnancies and healthier babies.”8 Having a healthy baby must begin well before the start of pregnancy.

Unintended pregnancies can make preexisting health condition such as diabetes, hypertension, coronary artery disease, kidney problems, autoimmune disorders, or cancer worse in the mother. These are high risk pregnancies that a woman may wish to avoid. Increasing the birth interval increases the woman’s health and makes for easier management of medical conditions that can emerge during the pregnancy such as anemia and decrease the risk for others like infections, third-trimester bleeding, or uterine rupture.

Many developing fetal systems are vulnerable to outside influences called teratogens, especially during the first 4 to 10 weeks after conception. For example, the fetal neurological system can develop neural tube defects, spina bifida, mental retardation and fetal alcohol syndrome. The only way a woman can avoid birth defect dangers of teratogens is to know when she is pregnant through the use of adequate family planning and modern contraceptives.

Planning the timing of pregnancies improves the health of children because sufficient birth spacing lowers the risk of low birth weight, preterm birth, miscarriages, stillbirths and birth defects. The number of different birth defects number in the thousands. The most common birth defects are heart defects, cleft lips and palates, Down syndrome, and spina bifida. Birth defects are the leading cause of death in the first year of life. The costs for a premature baby are over $190,000. Much more than the cost of a normal term birth at about $3,300.

There are other medical reasons to used hormonal birth control — menstrual pain and regulation, acne, endometriosis, menorrhagia (excessive menstrual bleeding), etc. The majority of women, 58%, use hormonal birth control for non-contraceptive medical condition(s).

During a woman’s pregnancy, some cells from the fetus traverse through the placenta into the maternal circulation (fetal microchimerism (FMc)) and some cells from the mother travel to the fetus (maternal microchimerism(MMc)). So every woman harbors foreign DNA derived from the fetuses of all her pregnancies and all fetuses harbor foreign DNA derived from their mothers and the fetuses of all her previous pregnancies. Thus pregnancies make permanent changes to a women’s body.

Multiple studies from 1987 to 2010 have found contraceptive coverage does not cost more but saves money for both public Medicaid and private insurers. Business employers not covering contraceptives in their employee health plans pay at least an additional 15 – 17% more than if they had coverage.

Even the National Business Group on Health believes that contraceptives are cost effective and has stated, “Researchers estimate that over a 5-year period, employers can save $14,000 to $22,000 (in year 2012 dollars)* by providing comprehensive contraceptive coverage.”11

The trade association for American health insurers, America’s Health Insurance Plans has expressed no great concerns.

Contraceptive coverage is certainly cheaper than the child-rearing expenditures of about $296,000.

Money argument fizzle aside, within weeks of being approved in 1998 by the FDA, Viagra was being covered by insurance policies. At $15 a pill, a monthly prescription of six to eight pills costs the insurance companies $50 to $80 a month after a co-pay of around $40 is removed.12,13 Cost savings has never entered into the dialogue over Viagra coverage. The United States spends an estimated $174 billion annually, including both indirect and direct costs on diabetes care. These expenditures are expected to raise to $264 billion annually by 2030.14 All without a complaint.

Women have a major role in the American economy. The 66 million women workers representing 47% of the total workforce have earnings that are 23% of the National GDP. Women hold 4% of the CEO positions at Fortune 500 companies. Women own 8 million U.S. Businesses, 28% of all businesses in the United States. Their annual $3 trillion earning make up almost 20% of the National GDP. They have created almost 24 million jobs or 16 percent of all U.S. Jobs.

We know that as the rate of contraceptive use by women increase, the rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion decline. Estimates indicate that ObamaCare would prevent 320,000 abortions and 800,000 unintended pregnancies.

This freedom of religion is a tricky thing. Obviously religion freedom isn’t without limitations. Human sacrifice wouldn’t be allowed. In the 1878 case of Reynolds v. United States, the Court ruled that laws against polygamy didn’t violate religious freedom. And more recently the Court in Smith upheld that neutral laws of general applicability do not violate the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment.

Justice Antonin Scalia in Smith wrote, “the right of free exercise does not relieve an individual of the obligation to comply with a valid and neutral law of general applicability on the ground that the law proscribes (or prescribes) conduct that his religion prescribes (or proscribes).”

Justice Scalia argues to do otherwise permits the objector, by virtue of his beliefs, “to become a law unto himself” and would “contradicts both constitutional tradition and common sense.”

Among sexually experienced never-married Catholic women 98% have used a contraceptive method. A majority of Catholics (58%) believe “employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost,” and 52% believe that even for employers that are “religiously affiliated colleges and hospitals.”

Other religions such as Jehovah Witnesses would want an exception for not covering blood transfusions, Islam would need one for pig derived insulin, Scientology wouldn’t want to cover psychiatric drugs, and Christian Scientists would want a big exception for not covering medical treatments and vaccinations. And the list goes on ad nauseam.

The Talmud has commanded Jewish women for over 1500 years to use a mokh for birth control.

In the present case it’s the women’s religious beliefs on the use of contraceptives and their right to control their own bodies that must take precedence over the beliefs of the Church if we are to honor American Exceptionalism/American Individualism.

Even the Catholic vision of religious freedom is “rooted in the inherent dignity of every human person,” and is “understood as an individual right…so protects each person individually.”

Individual rights are undoubtably subject to various disputes, but almost nobody denies that individuals have rights. Many people, such as Ayn Rand, reject the very idea that groups can have any rights.

*Changed from 1993 dollars to 2012 dollars using the Bureau of Labor Statistics CPI Inflation Calculator at http://data.bls.gov/cgi-bin/cpicalc.pl.

 

Previous: The War on Women’s Health, Part 6: Religious Beliefs


This acclaimed portrait of heroism and ingenuity captures a watershed moment in human history. The astronauts themselves have called it the definitive account of their missions. A decade in the making, this book is based on hundreds of hours of in-depth interviews with each of the twenty-four moon voyagers, as well as those who contributed their brain power, training and teamwork on Earth. Without a doubt, THE book to read about the Apollo program!
The seemingly permanent cold war provided the United States with an organizing logic that governed nearly every aspect of American society and culture, giving rise to an unwavering belief in the nation’s exceptionalism in global affairs and world history. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, this cold war paradigm was replaced by a series of new ideological narratives. In The New American Exceptionalism, pioneering scholar Donald E. Pease traces the evolution of these narratives and shows how they have shaped U.S. national identity since the end of the cold war, uncovering the ideological and cultural work required to convince Americans to surrender their civil liberties in exchange for the illusion of security.


Sources

1 Tuckness, Alex | Locke’s Political Philosophy « The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( Edward N. Zalta) | First published Wed Nov 9, 2005; substantive revision Thu Jul 29, 2010 | Accessed 20120501 @ http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/locke-political/.
 
2 United States Declaration of Independence.
 
3 Tuckness, Alex | Human Rights « The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ( Edward N. Zalta) | First published Fri Feb 7, 2003; substantive revision Tue Aug 24, 2010 | Accessed 20120501 @ http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/rights-human/.
 
4 Rand, Ayn | Capitalism: The Unknown Ideal | Signet (New York, New York, USA) | 1967 (Page 374).
 
5 International Student and Scholar Services | Handbook 10, What Americans Are Like (Online) | University of Pennsylvania | Last updated : 04/05/2012 | Accessed 20120501 @ http://www.upenn.edu/oip/isss/handbook/like.
 
6 Jonescu, Daren | On Restoring American Individualism (Online) | American Thinker (Blog) | 20120331 | Accessed 20120501 @ http://www.americanthinker.com/2012/03/
on_restoring_american_individualism.html.
 
7 Fischer, Claude S. | American Individualism – Really? (Online) | MADE IN AMERICA (Blog) | 20100419 | Accessed 20120501 @ http://madeinamericathebook.wordpress.com/2010/04/19/.
american-individualism-–-really/.
 
8 — | ACOG President Martin Applauds President Obama and Secretary Sebelius on Ensuring Women’s Access to Contraceptive Coverage (News release) | American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists | 20120207 | Accessed 20120521 @
http://www.acog.org/About_ACOG/News_Room/News_Releases/2012/
Access_to_Contraceptive_Coverage.
 
9 AMWA | Position Paper on Principals of Reproductive Health | American Medical Women’s Association | No date | Accessed 20120520 @ http://www.amwa-doc.org/cms_files/original/Reproductive_Health1.pdf.
 
10 ANA | ANA Supports Obama’s Compromise on Women’s Preventive Health, American Nurses Association Statement (Online) | 20120213 | Accessed 20120221 @ http://nursingworld.org/HomepageCategory/NursingInsider/Archive_1/2012-NI/Feb-2012-NI/Womens-Preventive-Health-Services-Rule.html.
 
11 Campbell, K. P. | Contraceptive use (Counseling and Preventive Interventions) (Online) | National Business Group on Health | Updated 20110131 | Accessed 20120521 @ http://www.businessgrouphealth.org/preventive/topics/contraceptive.cfm.
 
12 Sealey, Geraldine | Erections Get Insurance; Why Not the Pill? (Online) | ABC News | 20020619 | Accessed 20120521 @ http://abcnews.go.com/US/story?id=91538#.T7neEIHpaAk.
 
13 Alderman, Lesley | For Common Male Problem, Hope Beyond a Pill | The New York Times | August 28, 2009 | Accessed 20120521 @ http://www.nytimes.com/2009/08/29/health/29patient.html?_r=1&ref=health.
 
14 Committee on Preventive Services for Women | Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps | IOM (Institute of Medicine), The National Academies Press; Washington, DC | 2011.
 

2 Responses

  1. […] Next: The War on Women’s Health, Part 7: American Individualism […]

  2. […] Part 7: American Individualism and Summary […]

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