Emergency Contraceptives for Women in the Military.
Emergency contraceptives (EC) are also referred to as the morning pill or by its brand name, plan B. (Juhn) elaborates that the morning pill as a contraceptive it is very effective, safe and been approved by pharmaceuticals. The other emergency contraceptive method is in form of an inter-uterine device. Its contents include a high dose of birth control pills that when taken within 72 hours after sexual intercourse is effective in stopping any pregnancy that may have otherwise occurred, This happens due to the production of an anti pregnancy hormone that occurs after injection of the emergency contraceptive pill. It either prevents fertilization or causes a fertilized egg to slough off the uterine walls without attaching itself to the walls. The emergency contraceptive pill can also be used during breast-feeding. The drug is available without prescription to all other American citizens that are above 18 years of age but is however not stocked in the military medical service centers.
The emergency that may call for the use of this drug ranges from rape to accidents of normal occurrence. Such accidents may include tearing of condoms during sexual intercourse, slipping off of inter uterine devises like the diaphragm or the siding of the coil, unexpected sexual intercourse, forgotten injection of pills for a number of days or as a back up to the available forms of regular contraception. The medicine can be obtained prior to and kept for emergency
In this paper we will discuss the reasons why military women should be allowed access to emergency birth control pills. The birth control pills having been previously included in the budget for the military drug supplies, was suddenly removed from this budget by the state in America which raises many questions in the interest of the state on the welfare of its citizens.
It will therefore examine the factors that make military women be in great need of the emergency pill. It will look at the state of these women and what risks they are at in, in relation to unplanned pregnancies. In addition to that we will examine the government’s decision to withdraw the pill and try to prove that the decision had no base hence should be reversed.
The most pronounced risks women encounter is sexual harassments by their colleagues in the service. This is one of the major reasons why military women should be allowed to have pills. The sexual harassment the women experience is of a high rate. Since not much protection offered to them due to the conditions at the base camps where they live, the situation renders them prone to sexual harassment by men, and therefore at a high risk of unwanted pregnancies
In the case of rape, the availability of the emergency contraceptives taken immediately after would protect the victims from the life threatening and inconvenience of unplanned pregnancy. It would also eliminate the numerous cases of abortion. Apart from abortion, these unplanned pregnancies contribute to broken families, reduced quality of performance at work and a hostile working environment that is very hostile and constantly intimidating to the victims.
The isolated way the service men and women live also contributes largely to unplanned sexual activities that make the need to avail emergency contraceptives supreme. During their days at the service campus, the women and men stay in the same isolated environment that heightens the cases of sexual harassments or just unplanned sexual involvements. Since this group of people are often isolated from their families, and live most of the time under fear and suspicion, they tend to get involved in many unplanned pregnancies availing emergency contraceptives would be best in eliminating the effect of these. It would be more worth while that having unplanned pregnancies being successful.
Due to the isolation associated with the military, the service men seek to satisfy their sexual urges with the most available persons who happen to be their comrades in the service. Married women in the service are also obliged to their duties in their families hence continue their marital obligations despite being in the military. These women need to plan their families and maybe required to use contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies during their tenure in service.
In addition to unplanned sexual activities, some women cannot take their contraceptives on a strictly regular basis. Since they are on and off from the family set up, it is not flexible for them to stick to a regular family planning maybe ineffective.
These other family planning methods take very long time before clearing from the reproductive system and therefore are difficult to stick to by these women who need to utilize their time on vacations to get the chance to have children. Emergency contraceptives makes it easier for them to lend a pill free life during their days away form their spouses and remain flexible enough to plan for children in their vacations, by using the emergency contraceptives as a short time preventive measures.
The morning after pill also acts as a strong back up to regular forms of contraception normally used by women during intercourse, the protection method used maybe compromised by accidents. An example of accidents that occur during intercourse including true shipping of inter uterine devices or the shipping, breaking or coming off of a condom in the course of sexual intercourse. Incase of such occurrences the emergences contraceptives will prevent the formation of a pregnancy if taken in good time. The latter two are quite a common occurrence especially in violent sexual situation, which the military women are prone to making these pills readily available for them at the medical service centers will be an advantage.
It would be a sad situation if a female in the military was to be recalled to an emergency during a recess, to be posted to a demanding duty of emergency, only to found heavy with child after reporting. Such situations could be outdone with if emergency contraceptives would be made readily available to these women in their respective military treatment centers.
This will not only protect their reproductive health but also their human rights. It will also reduce the cases of unplanned pregnancy that affects the military man- power when many women go on maternity leave or remain excluded from duties due to their state of pregnancy. The military laws should be amended accommodate women more comfortably by addressing issue like sexual harassment discrimination of whatsoever nature.
This pill was formerly included in the list of the medications required to be stocked in all military treatment centers. It was however removed from this list and now the military women have no guarantee of unlimited universal access to this important medicine. The medicine should be stocked in the military treatment centers since most of the women in military rely solely on the military heath care facilities for their healthcare needs.
Therefore denying them this is irresponsible of the government and poses a serious health risk and also an is a downright injustice. Since the Emergency contraceptive is accepted by law, it should not be denied to the military women infect its their right to have it as much as anybody else. This situation is also made worse by the lack of straight forwardness in the decision making process that led to the termination of the supplies. It emerges that the reasons were more political than scientific, since no scientific evaluation of the drug was done prior to the calling off of the supplies. It therefore raises questions as to whether the state is more concerned with political issues at the expense of the citizen’s health, be they military or civilian.
The questions raised by the state on their rejection of the emergency contraceptive are also questionable. They claim they are not suitable health wise, yet it underwent forty studies before an agreement was made on its supply, and the rejection was not done with consultations with doctors and scientists concerned. The other claim was that the drug would bring an increase in promiscuity is also misplaced, since there are various forms of birth control methods, which could also increase sexual irresponsibility if such was the case. It would also be a misjudgment to say that the use of the morning-after pill will lead to a decline in the use of other available contraceptive methods since the emergency contraceptive is only to be used after unplanned intercourse or as a contraception back up.
The government also complained about double standardization of the drug, where buyers under sixteen are expected to have prescriptions while the rest of the age groups is to buy it over the counter. This argument is kind of week as it is only too obvious that this would be because of the need to protect the young hence it would be safe for them to produce a prescription to prove how necessary the drug is to them. Therefore the reasons given by state do not qualify the withdrawal of the emergency contraceptive from the market.
Women also in the military have their various reasons like, family problems that drive them into the force; others follow in the footsteps of other siblings who have been in the military prior to them. The military also offers attractive benefits like good equal pay, opportunities to further education and career advancement, medical coverage, allowances on food and uniforms. The military men also get exposed to many parts of the world since they travel widely. It also offers an assured job security. Other people just love an opportunity to serve their country. The flexible arrangements made for quitting the military are also attractive to some.
Whatever a person’s reasons for joining the army are, each individual needs protection and a conducive working environment with all the necessary provisions that facilitates the smooth running of the service and the quality of their performance. This includes the emergency contraceptive. To address the issue of the emergency contraceptive, we will look exhaustively at the conditions that render this group entitled to the emergency contraceptive.
The military culture, of it being so male oriented and quite an aggressive field makes women vulnerable to sexual harassment by these men. Men being naturally aggressive in nature are made worse by the long periods of isolation during duties in addition to the tough conditions in the army, and when aggression rages out of control, revert to their female colleagues and commit other atrocities. The military laws also do not offer laws to protect such inhuman violation of rights, therefore the perpetrators many at times go unpunished despite the serious damage they may have done to the victim’s life. http://www.theportlandalliance.org/
It is therefore only sensible that these women be allowed to use emergency contraceptive to prevent the life damaging but controllable things like pregnancy.
Married women with families likewise are in need of emergency contraceptives to control emergencies that may arise. Since the various methods of contraception available for women’s birth control have various negative side effects that are very inconveniencing. Many women opt not to use other birth control methods like ultra uterine devices, deprovena and others. It is difficult for a military woman to plan family on this, as they take too long to clear form the system when one wants to have babies again. Due to the unplanned schedules of the military activities and their lack of fixed timings, planning a family on such methods is impossible hence other more favourable methods should be availed to them. The other contraceptives have also been associated with eventual sterility. In addition, these birth control methods have numerous side effects like missing monthly periods, over bleeding and other gynecological complications.
In his book (Mitchen 210) explains that it would be advisable that in the approach of an up coming assignment or combat, a woman should not get pregnant since apart from her vulnerability to vigorous activity, she can not be allowed to go to areas with toxic gases, nuclear radiations or performance of any heavy labor as this could be a danger to the fetus. In the laws it is stated that a woman who is expectant should be within six hours of a medical facility, the situation is not possible in a submarine as the sailors may be submerged for weeks on end. Therefore, emergency contraceptives should be made available to help military women take care of possible emergency situations.
Until the thousands of cases reported on sex violence is out done with, the military women should be provided with contraceptives to prevent unwanted pregnancies. These options are readily available to other women who go through similar incidents; hence the military women should not be an exception. This will not only protect their reproductive health but also their human rights. It will also reduce the cases of unplanned pregnancy that affects the military man- power when many women go on maternity leave or remain excluded from duties due to their state of pregnancy.
The military laws should be amended accommodate women more comfortably by addressing issue like sexual harassment discrimination of whatsoever nature.
(Binkin 54) suggests that records at the military should be kept to document such crimes, to discourage any possible future perpetrators, show and monitor the relevant bodies’ action the crime. It will serve as also a reassurance to the military women that they are at least cared for and protected by the law. Documentation will also prevent internal solution within a small set up as a possible result of colluding with the officers involved for an unconditional forgiveness without the victim’s involvement.
Due to the highly secretive nature of the militia, in its fight against sex harassment, an investigative committee should be set up to investigate the sexual misconducts in the service. The investigation ought to be done intensively and the findings kept in house to protect secretes of the military service. Since it can be established that poor leadership is a major cause of this, the investigative committee to be put in lace should contain well-chosen qualified members from other fields for outside accountability and representation of the common American view. The issuance of verbal reprimands for military men who commit crimes against fellow workers should be stopped, this is even worse that the same men are released into the society and still continue terrorizing citizens and getting away with light or no sentence.
From the above discussion, it is evidently important for military women to be given the emergency contraceptive since, they seriously need it much more or just like other women do. The dangers they are exposed to everyday of their lives, the nature of their jobs do not allow them to have proper contraceptive methods. Apart from offering the pill, the security measures in the military should be improved to make the women’s life bearable. Laws that are not easily changeable should be enacted to protect the lives of those in the military service.
The situations that lead to the demand for emergency contraceptives could be very depressing and unfavorable for work situations. The inconveniences related to the other regular contraceptive methods would be alleviated if through the use of emergency contraceptives. Its availability to the military women will also improve the general efficiency in work through a productive group of service men and women, not bugged down by avoidable reproductive health issues.
Binkin, Martin. Women and the Military. New York, Tennessee Uni. Press. 2003
http://www.theportlandalliance.org/ Accessed on 19th October 2007
Juhn, H. Understanding the Pill. London, Haworth Press, Inc.2003
Mitchen, Bryan. Women in the Military. Dublin, Routledge Publishers. 2004
Stiehm, Judith. It’s Our Military Too! Philadelphia, Temple University Press. 2006.