One of the things I’ve loved about Boardwalk Empire this season is the storyline about women’s health. It initially seems a little odd that a show about prohibition and gangsters has a very thoughtful storyline on such a topic. Really though, the show is about government imposed restrictions and balance of power, and while Nucky Thompson and the others wrestle over power of booze and money, Margaret Thompson wrestles over the power of her own body and sexuality. Who determines the right to drink alcohol? Who determines the right to control a woman’s body?
Margaret Sanger is one of my heroes. She is a complicated figure, as all human beings are, and she is often cast in a negative light for association with the contemporary eugenics movement. In no way do I endorse eugenics, but I do endorse the personal decision to become pregnant or not become pregnant. Whatever Sanger’s personal sentiments were on the topic, the battle she fought to champion access to birth control contributed greatly to today’s commonplace access.
However, things as they stand aren’t all peachy. If you don’t have health insurance birth control is very expensive. It’s not like going to the drugstore and buying aspirin. Continuing birth control requires costly exams with doctors.
Thankfully there is Planned Parenthood to fill in gaps in insurance coverage and ensure that women of all walks of life are guaranteed access to birth control, cancer screenings, and other health services (I went for a UTI a few years ago when I was between jobs and hadn’t yet gotten my COBRA coverage confirmation. It was terrible timing. As anyone who’s ever had one before knows, UTIs don’t wait for insurance paperwork to clear!)
So when Obama won the 2012 election this evening, I sighed a giant breath of relief. Though I’ve had continuous insurance coverage (once paperwork was all pushed to the correct places), I am relieved to know that Planned Parenthood will continue to be there for my uninsured friends and me, should we ever need their help.
Over 200 years after Abigail Adams insisted that women be remembered in the shaping of the new nation, in this country still largely run by men, it is still far too easy to forget that ladies are people who deserve respect. However, I believe Obama views the United States as a nation of individuals, rather than a nation of genders, and for this reason I believe in him.
Now let’s spend less time working to reverse the progress of women’s rights advocates in the 20th century, and look to ways we can improve everyone’s health, opportunities, productivity, and contributions to society.
Boardwalk Empire is a great show to watch, but not one I want to have to reenact in my own life.