I’m currently working on a piece about corporations, but as is often the case it’s a) taking longer to get out, and b) The focus is changing as I write it. So I’m going to try and take some advice I received earlier this week and instead of queuing this topic to write in depth about it, I’m going to take this moment and write my initial thoughts. If I feel like fleshing it out I’ll come back to it with a post script somewhere down the line. Hopefully this means I’ll get more stuff out, that is shorter and easier to digest. Hey not every meal can be Thanksgiving.
The President is currently taking a lot of heat for his decision to make it mandatory for insurance providers to cover contraception under their plans. The rule does not grant exceptions to insurance providers with religious affiliations, this has made some, particularly The Catholic church, deeply concerned. This is because as we have learned from Monty Python:
“every sperm is sacred,
every sperm is great,
if a sperm is wasted,
God gets quite irate.”
Just to be clear, this decision doesn’t mandate the communion wafer to be changed to a birth control pill. What this says is that if you work for an organization that is somewhat affiliated with a church, like say your an accountant at St. Johns University, your employer provided health insurance has to cover contraceptives.
The argument people make against this decision is two-fold: This is a trampling of religious freedom, and contraception is a choice. Both arguments deserve a thorough rebuttal, but I’m trying to keep this short, so for now lets talk about this question of choice. All medical decisions are technically a “choice.” People with dangerous allergic reactions choose to wear medic alert bracelet’s, if you break your leg you choose to have a doctor set it back in place. Ah, but contraception is different, In the case of contraception, you are choosing to engage in an activity that has a consequence and because you don’t “need” to have sex outside of procreation it’s okay to allow vaguely church affiliated organizations deny women control over if and when they radically change their ability to work, go to school, and yes live.
It is hard to talk about the medical aspects of pregnancy because when you get clinical about pregnancy it sounds like you are describing a disease or illness, something for which a cure is necessary. This flies counter factually to our notion of newborn babies as sacred blessings. The fact remains though regardless of the blessings of birth, a pregnancy, any pregnancy is a a major medical event. A medical event that comes with a whole host of side effects. Women are known to develop new allergies, asthma, hypertension, even diabetes simply from having a child. Which ultimately brings me to the (not so) short point I wanted to make. Type II diabetes is another major medical event and if we apply the same logic it is fair to say because it is caused by eating sugary foods beyond “need” it too is a choice but most people would think it would be insane to allow health insurance to not cover insulin.
What sparked this post was a conversation I had with a coworker about the topic, to prove his point he pointed to a real dear Abby letter:
I am a twenty-three year old liberated woman who has been on the pill for two years. It’s getting expensive and I think my boyfriend should share half the cost, but I don’t know him well enough to discuss money with him.
I countered with a made up but equally realistic dear Abby letter of my own:
Dear Abby, I’m a 35 year old married woman in a committed relationship, my husband works in construction and has been in and out of work for the last 5 years, I have a good job but it doesn’t cover the cost of birth control, money is tight and I can’t afford the cost of contraception. If I get pregnant I will need to take time off from my job and we will lose the one steady income we have, how do I survive and still remain intimate with my husband whom I love.
Deciding if and when to take birth control is a choice, having access to affordable birth control in 2012 not so much.