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My body, my decision: Women deserve rights over their health

Tampax+markets+discreet+tampons+in+grocery+store+aisles.
Tampax markets discreet tampons in grocery store aisles.

Tampax markets discreet tampons in grocery store aisles.

Gabby Weaver

Gabby Weaver

Tampax markets discreet tampons in grocery store aisles.

Gabby Weaver, Opinions editor

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Women of the twenty-first century need recognition, not only for fighting for equal rights over the past 100 years, but for the injustices they face today. In this day of political instability and uncertainty, women need a voice, not silencing by those in power. In all aspects, women deserve sufficient representation and equal treatment.

A woman’s body does not truly belong to her; it falls under the legislation of a predominantly-male governing body. The religious views of a few political powerhouses could soon prevent women from receiving abortions nationwide. However, not only abortions face termination by the government. Women’s access to health care could prove severely restricted in the upcoming legislation decisions.

A number of states already heavily restrict women’s rights to their bodies, but in Oklahoma’s case, house bill 1441 would leave the decision entirely dependent on the father’s willingness. According to the bill, the father can require notification, ask for a paternity test, and deny the woman access to an abortion if he does not approve first.

Who would author such a bill? House representative Justin Humphrey of Oklahoma wrote the bill in hopes of including the father in the abortion process. The bill takes away a certain degree of a woman’s control of her body.

It does not stop at that degree, though. The Trump administration does not approve of healthcare coverage for prenatal care, the imperative portion of healthcare for women and their unborn children that could make a substantial difference in the child and mother’s health. However, seeing as mostly men compromise Trump’s administration, do they see it the same way women do?

“Legislators who think they have a right to decide what a woman should do with her body do not have those body parts, and therefore do not have any perspective, but are also allocating these funds to various other causes that do not require as much attention,” senior Celina Cotton said.

US representative John Shimkus does not think that men should pay for prenatal care, as required in the Affordable Care Act.

“Why would you buy a cabin in Montana that you’re never going to use?” Shimkus said.

Why do these male legislators believe that they can decide the extent to which women can seek prenatal care?

People in general should not heavily rely on the government for care, because it can cause dependence, and create the extreme that these legislators refer to when talking about pulling prenatal care funding. While some women do agree with the legislators, these numerous possibilities terrify many young women.

“I’m so scared. If my state were to limit reproductive rights, I would feel cornered. Where are young girls supposed to go if they’re living in poverty and need an abortion? If they’re in desperate need of prenatal care?” senior Kierra Mcintyre said.

Though very important, prenatal care and access to abortions do not necessarily pertain to high school age girls. Young women from age ten or eleven, all the way through menopause in the late forties, need feminine products such as tampons and pads when going through periods of menstruation. These products can reach up to eight or nine dollars a box, depending on the quality. According to Money Matters, women “are projected to spend about $3,000 on tampons and pads in their lifetimes.”

Women need these products, as a matter of cleanliness and proper sanitary procedures, so why do they cost so much? The government heavily taxes women’s products overall; those marketed to only women sell for higher prices than those marketed to men, by a significant amount in some cases. The New York City Department of Consumer Affairs published a report on how significant the differences in pricing truly affect women, who pay more than men for specialized products 42 percent of the time.

Gabby Weaver

“The pink tax is the prime, undeniable example of gender inequality in the United States. If we are paying more for tampons than men are for Viagra, something is definitely wrong,” senior Madison Barfield said.

Young women attending NC especially feel the sting of the pink tax because they do not have access to free tampons from the school nurse. Cobb County restricts tampon distribution due to the possible negative side effects of using a tampon, such as toxic shock syndrome (TSS), and because girls may not know how to properly insert one. Young women asking for tampons should know how to properly insert them, and know the risks of keeping one in for too long. The county could also give out permission slips that could go in the students’ files, but they simply do not take any measures to properly provide girls feminine care other than light pads.

Girls feel strongly about this topic, but young men also empathize with the issue.

“I believe it should be all in or all out. There should absolutely be equality in judgement from the government’s end. Equal coverage for everyone, equal prices for everyone, or no coverage at all,” senior Giovanni Merendino said.

The government does not stand alone in this battle; the tampon companies themselves create a negative connotation for the use of feminine products. Girls need to feel confident in themselves, and they need to feel safe to discuss issues with their health with others. Tampax markets discreet, pocket sized tampons. Why should girls hide tampons when all women menstruate? Every single woman, give for special cases, needs feminine products of some sort to keep herself clean during menstruation, but these companies endorse discreet use of tampons, hiding them away as if using them kindles shame and unwanted attention from others.

“It is kind of ridiculous to make young women think that using a tampon is gross. People view it as disgusting to not use any kind of feminine product, but then make the products themselves super expensive. It really puts us in a dilemma,” sophomore Maggie O’Bryan said.

Tampax tampons available at the local grocery store.

The most popular alternative to a tampon or pad lies in the Diva Cup. As opposed to the tampon companies’ motto of hide and disguise, Diva Cup encourages women to embrace their periods and sends a message of empowerment. Diva Cups last longer than tampons, and can fit pretty much anywhere, making them both more cost efficient and positively regarded than tampons or pads.

Young women need confidence in themselves, and that can prove difficult when the people responsible for protecting their rights blatantly disadvantage women. When the government decides that women do not deserve coverage, they need to believe in themselves and seek other outlets.

Gabby Weaver

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The award-winning voice of North Cobb High School in Kennesaw, Georgia.
My body, my decision: Women deserve rights over their health