Birth control and freedom
In my five years in Taiwan, I’ve been consistently impressed with the healthcare system here.
That’s why I was surprised to learn, after using the system for so long, that birth control is not covered by the National Health Insurance (NHI) and the birth control options available to women in Taiwan are limited at best. The cheapest options are similar in price to one person’s NHI monthly premium after employer subsidization. This is an insult to women’s rights and choice. It needs to change immediately.
I realize there are two factors at play in the decision not to cover contraceptives: The first is that the Taiwanese government is preoccupied with raising the birthrate and covering birth control appears to contradict that goal. The second is that it’s “elective” and not a necessity for a healthy life (although I could argue that for many women, it is a necessity for a fulfilling life).
I accept neither of these excuses. As for increasing the birthrate, making birth control needlessly expensive is not the way to do it. Middle-class and wealthy women in Taiwan can afford the NT$450 to NT$650 a month that birth control costs, as well as the initial OB/GYN consultation fees, but poorer women cannot. Does the government really want to raise the birthrate only among women who are pregnant only because they can’t afford birth control? How about among women whose husbands force them to have sex and who won’t wear a condom? Are these the households in which we want children to be born?
Shouldn’t the government instead pursue a policy in which babies are born into stable families who planned for them, want them and will love them?
Birth control is more than an “elective” — access to it is a necessary component of women’s freedom and rights. For some women, it’s the only thing standing between them and poverty, as they — married or not — can’t afford to raise a child.
It’s not a complete solution to say: “Make him wear a condom.” Unfortunately, many men in Taiwan refuse to do this, including married men. For many women, especially those in abusive or controlling marriages, taking control of their own form of contraception is the only option — and it’s a pricey one. It is one of the most expensive long-term medications to take, because it is not covered as most long-term medications are.
For some women, birth control is a medical necessity brought on by various health issues, either to maintain chronic conditions or because pregnancy would be dangerous or life-threatening.
This creates an unacceptably sexist bent to Taiwan’s national health policy. With Democratic Progressive Party Chairperson Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in the running to be Taiwan’s first female president, Taiwanese women can only hope that she, in fighting for greater women’s rights and equality, will take a hard look at the issue and decide that things need to change. Now.
No license for lawbreaking
If, as the reporter has stated, Ms F.V. was paid US$400 to US$450 per month, then Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Kansas City Director--Jacqueline Liu (劉姍姍) has violated US laws governing the minimum wage (“Protest filed in US over official’s arrest,” Nov. 12, page 1).
If, as reported, Liu required/forced Ms F.V. to work up to 18 hours per day, that, too, violates US labor law or at least strains it to the breaking point. I do know this sort of thing happens in Taiwan in very isolated circumstances.
As to the detention of Liu, it is my humble opinion that she ought to be treated the same as any other person assigned to a diplomatic mission. However, that treatment does not give her the license to violate US law and basic human rights. I would hope that before assuming a position of this sort that she was fully briefed on what was required by US law when hiring domestic help.
Only in Taiwan can you drink alcohol at 18, get your head blown off during compulsory military service (for all males), drive a car or a death-trap scooter at the age of 18, have sex at 16 and marry at 16 (if you are a consenting female).
However, you cannot vote until you reach, if you do, the ripe old age of 20.
Funny old world, ain’t it?
French firm DCI-DESCO in April won a bid to upgrade Taiwan’s Lafayette frigates, which has strained ties between China and France. In 1991, France sold Taiwan six Lafayette frigates and in 1992 sold it 60 Mirage 2000 fighter jets. To prevent arms sales between the nations, China negotiated an agreement with France and in 1994 in a joint statement, France promised that there would be no future arms sales to Taiwan. From China’s point of view, the DCI-DESCO deal constitutes a breach of the agreement, but the French stance is that it is not selling Taiwan new weapons, but instead providing a
Chung Yuan ChristiaN University is clearly in bed with the People’s Republic of China. This can be the only explanation why the school’s authorities have done their utmost to shield a student, who lodged a complaint against an associate professor, and then used thuggish tactics to compel the teacher to issue two separate apologies to China. The original complaint, filed by an unnamed Chinese student, was for remarks by associate professor Chao Ming-wei (招名威) during a class on the origin of COVID-19. A second complaint was filed by the same student after Chao, during an apology, stated that he was a
President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) in her inaugural address on May 20 firmly said: “We will not accept the Beijing authorities’ use of ‘one country, two systems’ to downgrade Taiwan and undermine the cross-strait status quo.” The Chinese government was not too happy, and later that day, an opinion piece on the Web site of China’s state broadcaster China Central Television said: “While Tsai’s first inaugural address four years ago was read by Beijing as an ‘unfinished answer sheet,’ the one she presented this time was even more below-par.” Speaking to the China Review News Agency, Shanghai Institutes for International Studies vice president
During my twenty-two years in the US Senate, I became a student of Taiwan and its history. I was chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy, and have made at least 25 trips to Taiwan and have been invited as an observer to two of the nation’s presidential elections. Taiwan’s continuous economic miracle has seen the nation transition from a mixed agricultural-industrial society at the end of Japan’s 50 years of jurisdiction to today’s economic powerhouse, unmatched by most nations of the world. Just as outstanding has been Taiwan’s decades of resistance and