It's a ham sandwich ... no, it's totally the cause of prostate cancer ... wait it's Bayer aspirin? Yes people said these things today, and not just ordinary people but people in charge of very important decisions and people who represent the people of the United States. It's hard not to sympathize with Reps. Carolyn Maloney, Eleanor Holmes Norton, and Mike Quigley for walking out of the House Oversight Committee hearing on contraception today especially when someone equates women's health to a ham sandwich. But just in case you missed it, here's a recap of the day that everyone had something to say about contraception without actually talking about contraception:
Contraception is ... a Ham Sandwich
What? During this morning's House Oversight Committee panel on contraception, Bishop William Lori unleashed the analogy comparing the White House's mandate to have employers and insurers pay for basic contraceptive care to forcing a Jewish deli to serve a ham sandwich. In the National Catholic Register, he explained the analogy (pretend that the Catholic institution is your local Jewish deli for a moment):
You are free to call yourself a kosher deli; you are free not to place ham sandwiches on your menu; you are free not to be the person to prepare the sandwich and hand it over the counter to the customer. But we will force your meat supplier to set up a kiosk on your premises and to offer, prepare and serve ham sandwiches to all of your customers free of charge to them ...
And you will, of course, be required to pay that bill.
Why? Well he was making a point about religious freedom and having to pay for contraceptives.
Is It True? Well, according to the mandate, religious institutions don't have to pay for the "ham sandwiches" and the onus will be placed on insurance companies to reach out and offer the coverage. But Bishop Lori struck some nerves on Twitter today. "If my employer told me that I couldn't use my compensation package to purchase pork, that would violate my religious liberty, too," wrote Amanda Marcotte. While the ACLU tweeted, "Pork is delicious meat that people eat. Contraception is basic & necessary health care that all women need. Very different."
Contraception Is ... Bayer Aspirin
What? As the Atlantic Wire's Elspeth Reeve reported earlier, Rick Santorum backer Foster Friess appeared on MSNBC today and shocked Andrea Mitchell into silence with this claim. "Back in my days, they used Bayer Aspirin for contraceptives -- the gals put it between their knees and it wasn't that costly," he said.
Why? Friess was trying to make a point about how Rick Santorum opposition to birth control is no big deal
Is It True? Not really. As Reeve suggested, Friess' point had to be a joke. But we contacted Planned Parenthood just in case. "Bayer Aspirin has never been a contraceptive and that's not even what it's supposed to be used for," said an official at Planned Parenthood of Metropolitan Washington. "That's ridiculous for it to even be suggested. If people want information about knowledgeable and safe contraception, that's why Planned Parenthood is here.
Contraception Is ... the Cause of Prostate Cancer
What? "As a man...would it interest you to know that Dr. Bernstein just published an article that links the pill to prostate cancer?" State Rep. Jeanine Notter of New Hampshire said today at state committee meeting about President Obama's mandate.
Why? She was speaking to fellow Rep. Andrew Manuse (who was then confused if Notter was talking about prostate cancer in children and or the men these women who were on the pill were sleeping with) and was trying to drive a point about how the mandate violates religious freedom. From the video, it seems she wanted to drive her point by talking about the birth control pill's health effects on men. At the tail end of the video, there is some talk about chemicals, and women, and how it affects men, which Notter doesn't seem to understand.
Is It True? Maybe. "Making ridiculous claims like this helps no one and hurts everyone," a Planned Parenthood told us. As Patch reported, there aren't any Dr. Bernstein reports linking the two, but there was an article from ABC in November reporting on a study that found a tenuous link. The study found that countries with the highest number of women on the pill were more likely to have a higher number of men diagnosed with prostate cancer, though it's unclear what the tie-in is. "This is just a hypothesis generating idea," an expert told ABC at the time. "Women should not be throwing away the pill because of this."
Contraception Is ... Probably Not The Reason You're Stocking Up on Cotton Balls and Unscented Soap at Target
What? The New York Times Magazine has a preview out today and found Target's Andrew Pole to talk about the way Target analyzes and optimizes its revenue by studying what people buy and when. Apparently he can pinpoint a pregnant shopper's due date and stage in pregnancy just by the things she's buying.
He ran test after test, analyzing the data, and before long some useful patterns emerged. Lotions, for example. Lots of people buy lotion, but one of Pole’s colleagues noticed that women on the baby registry were buying larger quantities of unscented lotion around the beginning of their second trimester. Another analyst noted that sometime in the first 20 weeks, pregnant women loaded up on supplements like calcium, magnesium and zinc. Many shoppers purchase soap and cotton balls, but when someone suddenly starts buying lots of scent-free soap and extra-big bags of cotton balls, in addition to hand sanitizers and washcloths, it signals they could be getting close to their delivery date.
Why? It surprisingly has nothing to do with the contraception hearing(s) today, but it has plenty to do with the hot-button issues of privacy which if you look at what's going on with Google and Facebook, is very relevant to you regardless if you're buying tons of cotton balls and hand sanitizers.
Is It True? We'll take Pole's and the New York Times Magazine's word for it, as there are multiple instances of Target's pregnancy knowledge in the article. Target, as Forbes gleaned from the article, even finds its own maneuvers creepy.
Photos via flickr users: powerplantop, Roadside pictures, and Naturally You Skincare