Ten years ago today, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) ruled that refusing to cover prescription contraception in an employee health plan - if other similar preventive services and prescription drugs were covered in that plan -violated Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the amendment to Title VII, the Pregnancy Discrimination Act. It was a monumental victory for women, many of whom spend the majority of their reproductive lives (approximately three decades) trying to avoid an unintended pregnancy. Women rely on contraception to plan their families, and appropriately and safely space their children.
It's a fact: Contraceptive use improves overall health. It enables women to plan and space their pregnancies. It has contributed to dramatic declines in maternal and infant mortality. And it has been a driving force in reducing unintended pregnancies and the need for abortion.
On average, women spend at least 30 years being sexually active but trying to avoid pregnancy. That's an awfully long time considering no contraceptive is 100% effective and things don't always work out as planned.
The kudos about the 50th anniversary of the FDA's approval of the birth control pill are well deserved. Timely access to contraceptive services has vastly improved maternal and child health, and has been the driving force in reducing rates of unintended pregnancy and abortion in this country. Women's ability to control our fertility has helped us achieve personal, educational and professional goals and made us a critical component of the nation's success.
If you haven't seen the latest episodes of Desperate Housewives, you have missed more than just the usual melodrama swirling around the residents of Wisteria Lane. A new storyline may be all-too-familiar to many viewers — a woman facing pregnancy discrimination on the job.