Kids and “the Pill”

I never let the facts get in the way of a good story.

                          – Tom, a friend of the PracticalDad

Just like Tom doesn’t let a fact get into the way of a good story, so Rush Limbaugh didn’t get the facts straight in the face of an opportunity to once again provoke a conservative/liberal spitting contest.  The newest – and perhaps most costly – imbroglio arose when Limbaugh took a twenty-something female Georgetown University student to task when she appeared before Congress to press for government coverage of oral birth control, i.e. "the Pill", for all women.  Limbaugh looked at her age and student status, pronounced her a slut and the fight ensued.  Despite the wildly poor choice of words, his defenders are stating that the woman was herself disingenuous.  The fact lost in the newest skirmish of the culture war is that oral contraceptives actually have benefits apart from the prevention of pregnancy and that it’s not uncommon for its prescription to teenage girls because of these benefits.

Guys truly don’t understand the discomfort and pain that comes with a woman’s period.  We can nod our head in sympathy but we’ll simply never get it.  That said, something with which fathers should become familiar is the set of facts and processes of the menstual cycle even though the typical father thinks about his daughter’s reproductive health with the same relish that he considers next week’s colonoscopy.  Females have dealt with their cycles and periods and your daughter will do the same as she grows and matures, and there are over-the-counter medicines available to assist with the discomfort and symptoms.  However, there are occasionally instances in which a woman’s menstrual cycle operates outside the normal Bell Curve in terms of bleeding and period length and in these instances, an oral contraceptive is actually beneficial in regulating the system.  In these cases, the medicine – which it is – is prescribed and the fact that the patient might be only fifteen years of age wouldn’t necessarily be material if it helps control the situation and alleviate the symptoms.  A man might be philosophically opposed to the idea of a minor receiving an oral contraceptive but that opinion will probably change if he finds that his own child is suffering unnecessarily.

Certain things will jar a father and I suspect that the prescription of an oral contraceptive is near the very top of that list.  But what it means is that, even if Mom’s around to ride herd on the process and help the daughter, you need to be at least aware of the daughter’s reproductive health.  This doesn’t mean that you walk in and start asking about her reproductive organs – Eldest once commented to me that it felt odd that her father could actually talk intelligently about menstruation – but it does mean that you pay attention if the topic is raised, either by your daughter or her mother.  If there’s no mother around, then you simply have to swallow your discomfort and deal with it.  Anything that pertains to your child’s health is important to understand, even if you and your mate opt to have a particular sphere of influence by dint of your gender.

Should the government be responsible for covering oral contraceptives?  At one glance, perhaps not since the most common usage is for something of convenience rather than necessity.  But what Limbaugh and the other pundits need to understand is that when you paint with a very large brush, you also slop over the areas that have no place being painted in the first place.

For reference on the uses and other benefits of oral contraception, go to


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