Author: has written 5296 posts for this blog.

Jill began blogging for Feministe in 2005. She has since written as a weekly columnist for the Guardian newspaper and in April 2014 she was appointed as senior political writer for Cosmopolitan magazine.
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28 Responses

  1. Heraclitus
    Heraclitus January 7, 2007 at 10:51 pm |

    Another excellent post, especially this:

    We’re kidding ourselves when we posit that the United States is a meritocracy or a classless society when so many people in this country are busier worrying about how they’re going to support another child, or how they’re going to work and have their children cared for, or what they’re going to do about a family health crisis that they can’t afford, than they are worrying about college funds or work promotions or class mobility.

  2. Sara no H.
    Sara no H. January 7, 2007 at 11:21 pm |

    Viagra is covered, but RU-486 is not. Funny how that works.

    I think that line about sums it up for me. Funny indeed.

  3. Kyra
    Kyra January 8, 2007 at 2:38 am |

    Very well said.

  4. thegirlfrommarz
    thegirlfrommarz January 8, 2007 at 8:50 am |

    Great article, Jill. You’re absolutely right that the ability to control their reproductive lives (and conversely not being able to control them) has an absolute huge impact on women’s lives.

    No one suggests that the solution is for low-income men to just not have sex. And yet this is exactly the option conservatives offer to low-income women. That, or deal with the consequences. Because women’s bodies are not quite human, it’s fair to treat their reproductive health as optional or not “real” healthcare.

    I’m not sure I’d go as far as women’s bodies being considered not quite human, but I certainly agree that they are considered much less important. Your point about Viagra is well-made: a poor man’s right to have sex is certainly important, but the lack of equity in allowing this and refusing poor women the right to reproductive healthcare is blindingly obvious.

    In the UK, contraception is available free of charge on the NHS (although we still pay VAT on sanitary products – but that’s another grumble). Free or affordable reproductive healthcare seems to me to be a basic human right. It should not be subject to moralising. I hope that the 30 Years Is Enough campaign achieves its aim.

  5. thegirlfrommarz
    thegirlfrommarz January 8, 2007 at 8:52 am |

    Apologies for double-posting. Damn browsers…

  6. StacyM
    StacyM January 8, 2007 at 10:24 am |

    Wow. Great post, Jill.

  7. Frumious B
    Frumious B January 8, 2007 at 10:32 am |

    Isn’t sex an elective procedure?

    (outside of rape and coercion, of which men are not the primary targets)

  8. bmc90
    bmc90 January 8, 2007 at 12:21 pm |

    Frumious B, funny how the Bush administration touts marriage as a way out of poverty, and then says people who don’t want children should just be abstinent. You don’t need Dr. Phil to tell you that people who won’t have sex with their spouse are putting their marriage at risk for failure. But no – it’s so much better to set up some kind of sex jury to decide if your failure to prevent your pregnancy showed a sufficient amount of effort. That sounds like a great use of social resources. If they jury decides you are not a slut, then you can be entitled to a goverment funded abortion or an abortion at all, though of course if you are not entitled we are still going to kick you off welfare in 2 years so you can go work 3 minimum wage jobs that still won’t cover the cost of your childcare.

  9. Patrick
    Patrick January 8, 2007 at 12:36 pm |

    Henry Hyde is/was in the House, not the Senate. From my state, I am sad to say.

  10. kate.d.
    kate.d. January 8, 2007 at 12:52 pm |

    brava. thank you for posting this.

  11. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe January 8, 2007 at 2:50 pm |

    Whenever I read how Hyde is a “respected elder statesman of conservatism,” or some such nonsense, I just want to puke. (And in Illinois, that stuff was served on heaping platters.)

    His biggest legacies are denying poor women abortions and impeaching Clinton over nothing. What a waste of space (a lot of space) that guy is.

  12. BlackBloc
    BlackBloc January 8, 2007 at 5:58 pm |

    In Quebec, abortions are paid for by our equivalent of Medicaid. The sky has yet to fall.

    I hope my American comrades can get the Hyde amendment repealed. And get a decent, single-payer Medicaid system, while you’re at it. ;)

  13. ScottM
    ScottM January 8, 2007 at 6:06 pm |

    Well written… and under my radar until now. Thanks!

  14. ako
    ako January 8, 2007 at 9:22 pm |

    To give props to the Peace Corps, they do try to minimize the impact of the Hyde Amendment on female volunteers. They’ll grant time away, fly the woman back to Washington DC, and provide room and board, all officially counted as medical evacuation. The procedure itself has to be payed for by the woman, but she can have the price deducted from her readjustment allowance (a few thousand dollars volunteers get at the end of service, technically her money,) so that she doesn’t have to find the cash herself. It’s probably the best they can do under the current rule.

    Still, it would be better if they didn’t have to jump through that particular hoop.

  15. deep6
    deep6 January 8, 2007 at 11:34 pm |

    I realize it’s just my liberalism interfering with divine revelation and some good ol’ misogyny, but I just don’t understand how such a large minority of people can confuse consent to sex with consent to pregnancy.

    The Hyde Amendment is a curse to Democrats. I bet many of them would support its repeal, but in 2006, as I learned from the C-Span broadcast of Speaker Pelosi’s inaugural women’s tea, women’s issues are to be defined by our needs as mothers and not our needs as individuals. Nevermind that I, and the largest population block not to have voted in the last election (aka single, childless women voters) overwhelmingly disassociate appeals to mothers’ interests with our own immediate political needs.

    I’m so tired of Democrats trying to get liberals’ votes without being liberal. It seems the only issues they’ll get behind are those that affect or are perceived to affect broad demographics. I don’t want to get negative so early, but why do issues need to appear to be broad-based in order to receive support?

    I miss the kind of radicalism of the 70s that made it okay for women to say I want these rights because I deserve them as a person instead of what I hear constantly chanted now, I want these rights because I deserve them as a wife/mother

    Or maybe that’s overstating it. Grr. That’s just what I perceive. Constantly ostracized, overlooked and taken for granted – the single, childless female American voter.

  16. David C
    David C January 9, 2007 at 10:59 am |

    If you want poor woman to be able to afford abortions, then pay for them out of your own pocket. You don’t have to pick the pockets of your fellow citizens regardless of their thoughts on abortion in the first place.

    And no, the government shouldn’t be paying for Viagra either.

    I do have a compromise: teach woman the “natural” family planning the Catholic Church likes. It actually works when followed correctly; in fact it is the only family planning method that is 100% effective. That way women won’t feel the need to have the government — or anyone else — buying them abortions.

  17. zuzu
    zuzu January 9, 2007 at 11:45 am |

    I do have a compromise: teach woman the “natural” family planning the Catholic Church likes. It actually works when followed correctly; in fact it is the only family planning method that is 100% effective. That way women won’t feel the need to have the government — or anyone else — buying them abortions.

    Dude, they don’t call it “Vatican Roulette” for nothing.

    As for pocket-picking — I’m sure you’ve renounced your right to collect Social Security, right?

  18. Bitter Scribe
    Bitter Scribe January 9, 2007 at 11:49 am |

    “natural” family planning…is the only family planning method that is 100% effective.

    Suuuure it is. And the wine really is transubstantiated into Christ’s blood, too.

    What do you call people who practice “natural family planning”? Parents.

  19. Jewel
    Jewel January 9, 2007 at 2:36 pm |

    Take away my feminist card – I was unaware of the heinous Hyde amendment. Thanks, Jill, for the informative piece.

    On another note, a friend who is morally opposed to contraception got pregnant on NFP. Had a terrible pregnancy, too – months upon months of non-stop morning sickness. I haven’t heard from her recently but I wonder if that experience will change her views on birth control.

  20. anna
    anna January 9, 2007 at 7:32 pm |

    Catholics do also have the option of tubal litigation/vasectomies. Does medicare cover that? (Google is failing me on this.)

  21. Sayna
    Sayna January 9, 2007 at 11:01 pm |

    Not all Catholics are anti-choice when it comes to abortion and contraception. Look at this site:

  22. ako
    ako January 10, 2007 at 1:09 pm |

    I looked up the numbers, and Catholic organizations claim 99% effectiveness for natural family planning with perfect use. Which involves charts and special thermometers (not exactly free).

    Interestingly, this page puts the perfect use failure rate at 2%, and more importantly, the typical failure rate at 25%. And if you want a nice peer-reviewed study that looks at what women actually do, then there’s this, which puts periodic abstinence (the actual substance fof NPF “Just don’t have sex for half the month!”) at 21%. Whether you believe these numbers or Stanford (or it’s varying year by year), telling poor women to buy a bunch of charts and thermometers, attend classes, and go without for the up to six months it can take to chart their cycles and a week or two every month still doesn’t reduce pregnancy.

    And if you want a more detailed breakdown, the Mayo Clinic puts the average use failure rate for basal body temperature at 80%, the the calendar method at 13%, and counting your cycle on a string of beads at 12%. They don’t have any numbers for combined use, but doing everything at once appears to decrease effectiveness, as opposed to with easier artificial methods.

  23. ako
    ako January 10, 2007 at 8:04 pm |

    Sorry, mistake. I meant still doesn’t reduce pregnancy that much. I could have sworn I’d typed it that way the first time.

  24. Nick Kiddle
    Nick Kiddle January 10, 2007 at 9:22 pm |

    I had to check the site. Failure rate for basal body temperature is given as 20% (80% effectiveness). 80%, according to a table I looked at when I was a teenager, is the failure rate of “no contraception”.

  25. ako
    ako January 11, 2007 at 12:25 am |

    Oops, I must have mentally flipped the numbers for failure rate and effectiveness rate. I really am sorry. I guess I should be more careful to proofread before posting.

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