Independent Women's Forum RSS feedhttp://www.iwf.orgThe RSS feed for the IWF. News/Commentary, Blog posts and publications(...)IWF RSS Does Planned Parenthood Oppose Over-The-Counter Birth Control? Because They'd Make Less Money<p> Planned Parenthood opposes making some forms of routine birth controls available&nbsp;over-the-counter. For an organization that claims to be dedicated to reproductive health and access to such services, this stance on the deregulation of common, safe, and effective contraceptives seems illogical.&nbsp; It is.</p> <p> Over-the-counter birth control would offer new options to women.&nbsp; Consumers would be able to see on the shelf the different products that are available, compare prices, and ultimately select the option that provides them with the best value, just as they choose products in other markets.&nbsp; Providers would truly have to compete for women&rsquo;s business, which would lead to lower prices, more innovation, and better products.&nbsp; What&rsquo;s not to like?</p> <p> One would expect Planned Parenthood and similar organizations to celebrate new calls for easier access, but instead these groups are accusing those calling for OTC birth control of trying to limit its availability by taking away insurance coverage for contraception.&nbsp; A controversial mandate pursuant to the Affordable Care Act requires that nonexempt insurance plans cover all FDA-approved forms of contraception from the first-dollar. This means insured women pay no copay when they pick up their prescription contraceptives.</p> <p> First, even if some birth controls were offered over-the-counter, this would not preclude insurance carriers from offering first-dollar insurance coverage for them. &nbsp;For example, &ldquo;Plan B&rdquo; emergency contraception is already available over the counter, yet the insurance coverage mandate still applies to this morning-after pill.&nbsp; Isn&rsquo;t it a little strange that &ldquo;Plan B&rdquo; is available without a prescription, and yet &ldquo;Plan A&rdquo; (or normal, before-the-fact birth control) is not?</p> <p> Even if more forms of birth control were made available OTC, the insurance coverage mandate could still apply to this class of drugs, and the government insurance program for low-income women, Medicaid, could continue to finance birth control coverage as it does today (from the first dollar), sparing participating women from the (very low) cost of contraception themselves.</p> <p> Yet Americans should ask if covering routine health care costs like contraception is really the best use of our insurance system.&nbsp; Insurance, by definition, is a contractual arrangement in which one party (the member or consumer) pays a premium for financial protection against an unforeseen loss. For example, car insurance is supposed to protect you from the costs of a major car accident, but we don&rsquo;t use it to pay for oil changes or regular maintenance to our cars. Similarly, health insurance isn&rsquo;t supposed to pay for every health care service, but to protect against the costs of a serious, costly disease or injury.</p> <p> From this perspective, it doesn&rsquo;t really make sense to cover safe, normal forms of birth control under insurance at all.&nbsp; And relying on a third party&mdash;our insurers&mdash;to pay for drugs like birth control pills doesn&rsquo;t make them free, but rather it shifts costs from individual consumers to the insured population generally.&nbsp; The cost doesn&rsquo;t disappear; it simply manifests in higher premiums. The HHS contraception mandate&nbsp;<em>could</em>&nbsp;stay in place even if birth control were available over-the-counter, but for the sake of efficiency (among other reasons), it shouldn&rsquo;t.</p> <p> Importantly, making contraceptives available OTC would give women greater access to these products since they would no longer have to see a doctor first.&nbsp; Doctors are on board with this: the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists supports making birth control available over-the-counter because they see the benefit of easier access and recognize that individual women are smart enough to be trusted with this safe, common drug.</p> <p> If this debate were as simple as the economics I&rsquo;ve laid out, nearly everyone would support over-the-counter options for birth control.&nbsp; But there are special interests that benefit from maintaining birth control&rsquo;s status as a controlled substance.</p> <p> Big drug companies benefit greatly from the Affordable Care Act&rsquo;s contraception mandate. The mandate means that nearly every woman in the U.S. currently uses first-dollar insurance coverage to buy birth control. This hides the cost of consumption for her, and allows pharmaceuticals to raise the prices that insurers must pay for these products.&nbsp; Those costs are built into our premiums and we all end up paying more as a result. &nbsp;This price-shielding process also encourages the consumption of the covered products (shifting consumers away from non-covered contraceptives, like condoms, or toward the more expensive products among those covered), which can mean big profits for these companies.</p> <p> Planned Parenthood&rsquo;s stance on expanding access to birth control may be illogical in light of their mission statement, but it is perfectly logical when you consider the group&rsquo;s financial interests. Planned Parenthood rakes in $1.2 billion annually; more than a third of their services involve providing contraception to women (and billing third parties for those costs).&nbsp; As a major provider of birth control and the nation&rsquo;s number one abortion provider, why would Planned Parenthood support other options for women?&nbsp; The group is simply serving its own self-interest, trying to hang on to the status quo that leads to big business and big dollars for them. Who&rsquo;s working against women now?</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathMon, 29 Sep 2014 16:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumAs NFL faces troubles, NBA is also addressing player conduct off the court HeathTue, 23 Sep 2014 08:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumInversion Dust Up: WH cracks down on companies trying to escape taxes HeathTue, 23 Sep 2014 08:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumISIS Forces Growing: Reports ISIS paying foreign fighters $1,000 a month HeathTue, 23 Sep 2014 08:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumThe Emma Watson UN Speech<p> British Actress Emma Watson, best known for her role as Hermione in the Harry Potter films, recently <a href="">gave a speech on feminism</a> before the United Nations. Her speech is making shockwaves around the Internet.</p> <p> Watson emphasized that feminism is not by definition a man-hating movement. She repeated the dictionary definition of feminism, and yep, no man-hating required.</p> <p> Sadly, <a href="">there</a> are <a href="">some</a> examples <a href="">of women</a> who hate men and are very forthcoming about it. The technical name for this would be misandry.&nbsp; But it&rsquo;s not too difficult to confuse with more radical camps of feminism that paint all men (or most men) as violent rapists, sexist oppressors, or at least complicit members of a patriarchal system designed to hurt women.</p> <p> I &ndash; and I imagine many of the women sharing and liking the video of her speech &ndash; appreciate Watson&rsquo;s attempt to separate the ideal of gender equality from this kind of male stereotyping that pits men and women against each other.</p> <p> At IWF, we have long emphasized that women&rsquo;s and men&rsquo;s interests are tied.&nbsp; Greater freedom for women &ndash; especially the freedom to access health care and education &ndash; boosts global economies and supports stabilized civilization. Economies grow better when we recognize that <a href="">economies are not like static pies</a> to be divided between women and men, but built and shared as men and women work together.</p> <p> Men and women can work together <a href="">in the home</a> too: Refreshingly, Watson underscored the importance of <a href="'s-Day">fatherhood</a>, subtly making the case for two-parent households. &ldquo;I needed him as much as I needed my mother,&rdquo; she said of her father. Watson discussed the hardships men face as well, pointing out that suicide has surpassed road accidents as the leading killer of young men in Britain.</p> <p> One of the criticisms of feminism that Watson did not mention was the criticism that too often progressive feminists see more and bigger government as the only solution to women&rsquo;s problems. They don&rsquo;t see non-government centric solutions (like the ones we&rsquo;ve laid out in<em> <a href="">Lean Together</a></em>, our new book).&nbsp; This is why groups like the National Organization for Women in the U.S. have gained the reputation of being more about the interests of the Democratic Party than about women.&nbsp; And this agenda is isolating to women who believe that government should be limited.</p> <p> But, in her defense, Watson did applaud &ldquo;inadvertent feminists&rdquo; or people who encourage women and girls to succeed in their individual attitudes and actions. This was another refreshing takeaway from the speech: We can all help the cause of gender equality by taking some individual responsibility in the matter. Hey, she even quoted Edmund Burke!</p> <p> One aspect of her speech that deserves greater discussion was her dismissal of gender differences. Watson basically accepts that gender is a social construct that should be viewed on a spectrum, rather than the binary male versus female.&nbsp; She believes that because of cultural expectations, men are not welcome to be sensitive, and women are not welcome to be strong. &nbsp;These cultural expectations will vary wildly from one part of the world to another, but in inviting women and men to just &ldquo;be ourselves,&rdquo; Watson should keep in mind that some characteristics of masculinity and femininity <em>may be innate and very much a part of who we are</em>.</p> <p> In terms of public policy, Watson mentioned a few specifics: wage equality, educational equality, and political representation among others. Again, we must keep in mind that she was addressing an international audience, and the advancement of women looks very different from country to country.&nbsp;</p> <p> But let&rsquo;s hope that Watson and others who emulate her well-intentioned efforts to restore feminism to its dictionary definition and to invite more people to its cause will aim for the right definition of women&rsquo;s advancement: more freedom and choice for women in all areas of their life. This includes keeping more of their tax dollars, choosing how and where to access their own health care and education, and having the economic freedom to build their own business or negotiate their own wages. &nbsp;</p> <p> Watson&rsquo;s speech touched a nerve with many people, and perhaps it will help foster an important discussion of gender equality, what it looks like at home and abroad, and how to ensure greater progress for men and women culturally, economically, and politically.</p> HeathMon, 22 Sep 2014 12:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBurden: It's What's for Dinner<p> The Slate blog is featuring an article from Amanda Marcotte called, &ldquo;<a href="">The Tyranny of the Home-Cooked Family Dinner</a>.&rdquo;&nbsp; Yes, ISIS is terrorizing the world, but all Ms. Marcotte can find to write about is how oppressive are those pork chops!&nbsp; (And Jessica Valenti wonders, &ldquo;<a href="">Why aren&rsquo;t tampons free?</a>&rdquo;)</p> <p> Come on, feminists, can&rsquo;t spare any ink for <a href="">Rotherham</a>?</p> <p> Here&rsquo;s a sampling from Amanda Marcotte on home-cooked dinners:</p> <blockquote> <span style="font-size:14px;">Beyond just the time and money constraints, women find that their very own families present a major obstacle to their desire to provide diverse, home-cooked meals. The women interviewed faced not just children but grown adults who are whiny, picky, and ungrateful for their efforts. &ldquo;We rarely observed a meal in which at least one family member didn&rsquo;t complain about the food they were served,&rdquo; the researchers write. Mothers who could afford to do so often wanted to try new recipes and diverse ingredients, but they knew that it would cause their families to reject the meals. &ldquo;Instead, they continued to make what was tried and true, even if they didn&rsquo;t like the food themselves.&rdquo; The saddest part is that picky husbands and boyfriends were just as much, if not more, of a problem than fussy children.</span></blockquote> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> Usually I don&rsquo;t respond when I think American feminists have gone too far. I agree with Napoleon that you should never interrupt your enemy when she&rsquo;s making a mistake. Surely rhetoric like this from Marcotte and others only serves to turn many mainstream American women off from the modern-day feminist movement. Plus, often I can just enjoy a response from someone wonderful like IWF&rsquo;s Charlotte Hays, IWF&rsquo;s Julie Gunlock, or the Federalist&rsquo;s Mollie Hemingway (<a href="">who did respond here</a>).</p> <p> To her credit, Marcotte pointed out some real hurdles to cooking dinner, like time and money constraints, which I&rsquo;m sure can affect some families more than others. But the thing I found particularly troubling about Marcotte&rsquo;s piece was in the final paragraph:</p> <blockquote> <span style="font-size:14px;">The researchers quote food writer Mark Bittman, who says that the goal should be &ldquo;to get people to see cooking as a joy rather than a burden.&rdquo; But while cooking &ldquo;is at times joyful,&rdquo; they argue, the main reason that people see cooking mostly as a burden is because it&nbsp;is&nbsp;a burden. It&#39;s expensive and time-consuming and often done for a bunch of ingrates who would rather just be eating fast food anyway. If we want women&mdash;or gosh, men, too&mdash;to see cooking as fun, then these obstacles need to be fixed first. And whatever burden is left needs to be shared.</span></blockquote> <p> &nbsp;</p> <p> This isn&rsquo;t just about cooking anymore. This reflects an attitude too common in our culture today that, if something is a burden, run from it! Seek only your own pleasure at all costs. Never mind the consequences.</p> <p> Look, I love to watch &ldquo;Chopped,&rdquo; and yesterday I made some banging crab ragoons. Cooking (in my childless home) is more often a joy for me.&nbsp; But I understand that many people just don&rsquo;t like it. But we all make choices to do things we don&rsquo;t like doing: Cleaning my house is a burden. Paying my bills? Oh yeah, burden.&nbsp; Going to work sometimes feels like a burden too.&nbsp; Sometimes our friends and family members create all sorts of burdens for us.&nbsp; And there&rsquo;s no arguing that despite the immeasurable joy that parenthood brings, kids create a burden.&nbsp;</p> <p> But my goodness, my life is not all about me! I&rsquo;m afraid we&rsquo;ve lost sight of the fact that duties, responsibilities, burdens&hellip; all of these restrictions on our freedom and our personal pleasure&hellip; bring deep meaning and reward to our lives. &nbsp;</p> HeathThu, 4 Sep 2014 09:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumYes Means Yes, But...<p> The state of California is considering a &ldquo;yes means yes&rdquo; law that would require &ldquo;ongoing affirmative consent&rdquo; during sexual encounters. Otherwise, these encounters could be considered sexual assault.</p> <p> This is a misguided attempt to micromanage sex, and an insult to both men and women.&nbsp;The effort to expand the definition of sexual assault stems from the concern that there is a &ldquo;culture of rape&rdquo; on college campuses. Unfortunately, this problem needs more than a legal response. Naturally, if there is a &ldquo;rape culture,&rdquo; it needs a&nbsp;cultural&nbsp;response.</p> <p> Instances of rape are real and horrendous. If a man forces a woman to have sex with him, he is the vilest of criminals and should be sentenced to severe prison time. When a woman goes to law enforcement with an accusation of rape, this should&nbsp;alwaysbe treated with utmost sensitivity and seriousness. Our justice system should weigh the evidence, find a verdict, and follow through accordingly.</p> <p> But the activities in question in California &mdash; the ambiguous &ldquo;Was it assault?&rdquo; cases &mdash; are not so straightforward. Usually a young man and a young woman have put themselves in a compromising situation and have failed to communicate their desires, intents, and limitations to each another. Often, drugs or alcohol are involved. In such cases, a college man might find himself suspended, expelled, or otherwise punished by a college tribunal, even though his intent was never to rape or assault the woman involved.</p> <p> These circumstances suggest that the two parties may not have known each other very well when the sexual activity took place. Ideally, before people become physically involved, they should be having sober and serious conversations about what&rsquo;s okay and what&rsquo;s not okay.</p> <p> Problems, in other words, are much more likely to arise when strangers become sexual partners.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p> Many would prefer not to acknowledge it, but really &ldquo;rape culture&rdquo; is strongly associated with hookup culture, or a culture that devalues sexual acts. If sex is just another activity people use to get high, by means other than (or in addition to) drugs or alcohol, then they&rsquo;re missing the truly intimate nature of sex. Yes, sex can be fun and can release into our brains and bodies hormones that make us feel good physically. But sex is meant to be so much more than that.</p> <p> Sex creates and maintains a bond between two people, sometimes in a way that transcends our human understanding. Perhaps that&rsquo;s why, in nature, the act can come with serious side effects such as the&nbsp;life-creating condition of pregnancy.</p> <p> If we want young people to avoid putting themselves in situations where they feel pressured into sex, we&rsquo;ve got to change the expectation that sex is ubiquitous on campus and just another way to blow off some steam on a Friday night.</p> <p> We&rsquo;ve got to make saying no an acceptable &mdash; and, yes, even&nbsp;respectable&nbsp;&mdash; position for both college women and college men to take. Especially if you are at a frat party with someone you barely know, it&rsquo;s not advisable to bare it all. This not only opens the door to miscommunication or unclear &ldquo;ongoing affirmative consent&rdquo; that might be misread in body language or nonverbal signals, but it degrades an act that&rsquo;s meant to be shared by mates whose intimacy goes far beyond the physical.</p> <p> Of course, many people do not share my view of sex.&nbsp; But we should all be able to agree that if people are adult enough to have sex, they should be adult enough to communicate without government-imposed, DMV-style rules about how one must say &ldquo;yes.&rdquo;</p> <p> It&rsquo;s important to teach our sons and daughters that engaging in sex means making sure &mdash; even if it&rsquo;s uncomfortable &mdash; that the other party is giving consent.&nbsp; The best way to ensure that this is a natural and comfortable conversation is to instill in the next generation a respect for the sexual act as part of a more serious relationship, not an activity to be shared between strangers.</p> <p> Yes means yes, but when it comes to casual &ldquo;hooking up,&rdquo; no is better.</p> HeathThu, 4 Sep 2014 08:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumHacker leaks celebrity photos. Black cloud over the iCloud? • Cavuto HeathTue, 2 Sep 2014 14:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumSeptember stock slump & another plane diverted after reclining seat argument • Cavuto HeathTue, 2 Sep 2014 14:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumWhat do these Atlantic City casino closings mean for Governor Christie? • Cavuto HeathTue, 2 Sep 2014 14:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumUnder growing threat from ISIS, what is the United States' strategy • Cavuto HeathTue, 2 Sep 2014 14:09:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDems' "War on Women" rhetoric perpetuates myth that women are a victim class • The Independents HeathFri, 29 Aug 2014 06:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumCelebrating Women's Equality Day<p> In an era where each political party covets women&#39;s votes, it&#39;s hard to imagine a time when women didn&#39;t have the right to vote. Today, August 26, is Women&#39;s Equality Day. It&#39;s a day to commemorate the passage of women&#39;s suffrage.</p> <p> Although the United States ratified the 19th Amendment in 1920 (yes - fewer than 100 years ago!), individual states began allowing women to vote as early as 1869 in Wyoming and Utah.&nbsp;Today women comprise more than half of voters in the United States, and their participation at all levels of government (both as voters and public officials) has grown tremendously. &nbsp;</p> <p> Often the Left uses holidays and commemorations like today to focus on areas where women have not achieved parity with men. But the name of the day is &quot;Women&#39;s Equality Day,&quot; not &quot;Women&#39;s Parity Day.&quot; &nbsp;Today should be a celebration of how far women in America have come in achieving equal rights.</p> <p> Once, women did not have equal voting rights or property rights, and they faced major hurdles in the pursuit of an education or a profession. Today, women make up the majority of students in bachelor&#39;s, master&#39;s and Ph.D. programs. Our culture has come a long way in accepting women in the workplace, and women have reached new heights in nearly every profession or pursuit imaginable. &nbsp;In the <a href="">White House statement</a> about today&#39;s commemoration, the President recognized these important gains, but still&nbsp;<strike>pandered&nbsp;</strike>pondered on the fact that women face &quot;barriers:&quot;</p> <blockquote> <p> But despite these gains, the dreams of too many mothers and daughters continue to be deferred and denied.&nbsp; There is still more work to do and more doors of opportunity to open.&nbsp; When women receive unequal pay or are denied family leave and workplace flexibility, it makes life harder for our mothers and daughters, and it hurts the loved ones they support.&nbsp; These outdated policies and old ways of thinking deprive us of our Nation&#39;s full talents and potential.</p> </blockquote> <p> This is tricky. Of course we may all agree with the President that some women face unique challenges. In an economy that is still struggling to recover, many of the hardships women face are in finding good-paying jobs and making ends meet. These are hardships that many men face as well. And as the President mentioned, workplace flexibility is very beneficial to women.&nbsp;</p> <p> But of course the President and his political allies want to continue to propose legislation that <a href="">overregulates the workplace</a> and <a href="">creates new inflexible and expensive entitlement programs</a> in the name of protecting women. These misguided ideas would backfire on the women they are intended to help.</p> <p> Today should be a day where women of all political stripes come together to celebrate 94 years of voting rights protected by the 19th Amendment. &nbsp;We can recognize that not all women have achieved the American Dream, and that greater economic freedom and economic growth would allow them the chance to do so. But we should also recognize that America is not an inherently sexist or anti-woman culture, and that we have come a long way in achieving equal rights and opportunities for women.</p> <p> &nbsp;</p> HeathTue, 26 Aug 2014 16:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumDems push anti-Keystone ad & Feds spending $1 million to monitor social media • Cavuto HeathTue, 26 Aug 2014 06:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's ForumBuffett financing deal that allows Burger King to avoid paying a lot of taxes • Cavuto HeathTue, 26 Aug 2014 06:08:00 CSTen-usIndependent Women's Forum