By Jan. 1, 2013, women with health insurance or Medicaid will receive birth control without copays under new guidelines from Health and Human Services (HHS), which this week classified birth control as preventive health care. Although many insurance policies cover birth control pills and emergency contraception to some degree, most women pay copays that range from $15 to $50 per month for the pill or up to $1,000 for the implantation of an intrauterine device (IUD). Low-income women often find themselves unable to afford the cost — a real problem, as they are also the least likely to be able to afford obstetrical care, new babies or, alternatively, abortions.
Now contraception will fall in the same category as other preventive care, like vaccinations and annual physicals. The HHS decision recognizes that women are healthier when they can plan and space their pregnancies. This is the closest this country has ever come to establishing universal access to contraception and will surely help to decrease the number of unplanned pregnancies, decreasing the abortion rate.
But in their eternal quest to limit women’s sexual freedom, religious conservatives are up in arms about the decision, claiming falsely that the policy covers abortion drugs and telling everyone that pregnancy is not a disease but something women’s bodies do naturally.
Pregnancy isn’t a disease, but neither is it a benign condition. It can and does cause physical injury, disease and death. As for “natural,” tell that to a woman who’s in her 30th hour of back labor.
The HHS decision is good news in a year when so many state legislatures, dominated by religious extremists, have passed or are trying to pass anti-abortion measures that would make executed Romanian dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, an ardent foe of contraception and abortion, proud.
Art project makes some ROAR
Some people just have too much damn time on their hands.
You may have heard about Over the River, a project in which artists known only as Christo and Jeanne-Claude plan to stretch panels of fabric over the Arkansas River between Salida and Cañon City. We’re talking about 5.9 miles of silvery, luminous fabric stretched over a 42-mile stretch of the river. The artists plan to exhibit the “piece” during a two-week period in August of 2014, and the Bureau of Land Management issued a final environmental impact statement for the project on July 28, which some say clears the way for a final OK by the BLM this fall.
The project is proving controversial for obvious reasons. On their website, www.overtheriverinfo.com, Christo and Jeanne-Claude vow to be ultra-sensitive to all impacts associated with the project, environmental or otherwise.
On the other side, an opposition group called ROAR, which is the acronym for the clever title “Rags Over the Arkansas River,” has a website of its own at www.roarcolorado.org.
According to that site, the group filed a lawsuit on July 22 charging the Colorado Board of Parks and Outdoor Recreation with violating its own regulations “by permitting the artists to use the Arkansas Headwaters Recreation Area Parks facilities, for up to five years, for a ‘large-scale, industrial’ art exhibition over the Arkansas River.”
ROAR also claims that in the artists’ “Valley Curtain” project near Rifle Gap in 1971, “tons of concrete and structural steel ‘I’ beams were used and remain at the site to this day.”
Even if there are no impacts at all associated with Over the River, it’s worth asking what lengths we’ll go to in making accommodations for the use of public land in the name of art.