Saturday, February 18, 2012

Sexual Politics

Yesterday I pointed out absurdity of a bunch of non-uterus-havers making decisions about women's reproductive health and freedom (in 2012, for Susan B. Anthony's sake!) and Ann had this to say:
I enjoy reading your blog and stories about your family, but I couldn't let this one go. It is called religious beliefs and values. You would not ask the Amish or Quakers or any other religion to do anything that is fundamentally against their beliefs why is it ok to demand and force Catholics to abandon one of their core teachings. It is not a male/female issue. It is a religious belief issue. Would it make you feel better if it was a table full of catholic women holding their babies sitting at that table? 
Leaving aside the irony of an institution which has sheltered and enabled sexual predators for generations throwing any stones when it comes to sexual politics of any kind... Here's what's going on:

The Catholics don't want to cover birth control for their employees.  So, for example, if you're an agnostic or Buddhist or whatever secretary who happens to work at a Catholic university or hospital, or even a private company owned by a Catholic, they have the right, under the law, to not cover birth control pills under your insurance plan.  This actually happened to me in my early 20s.  Irony of irony, I was taking BC for raging PMS, and not for the sake of contraception, but it didn't matter because the family owned company I worked for at the time was owned by an Italian-Catholic family, and they refused to cover BC.  It kind of pissed me off.  Guess where I went for my pills instead?  (Planned Parenthood)  Guess what organization the religious right would love to see wiped off the face of the earth??  (Planned Parenthood)  ARGH!

Fine, whatever.  Religious freedom, blah blah blah.  So Obama said, "Whatever, jerks.  We're going to require the non-religious insurance company to extend birth control coverage to your employees for free, so that your non-Catholic or Catholic-light employees who choose to use the pill are able to, without having to go get it for a discounted price at Planned Parenthood and have eggs thrown at them by protestors."  Obviously I'm paraphrasing.

Egg Throwing Protestors
And apparently that wasn't good enough.  Because it's not just that Catholic companies and institutions saying, "We don't want our money going to pay for something we disagree with."  That's not it at all.  They don't want you or I to have access to birth control of any kind, period, regardless of what church you belong to or what you believe or whose money you use to pay for it.  (Incidentally, insurance companies are cool, because it's a lot cheaper to give away birth control pills than it is to cover pregnancies and to insure children until age 26.)

This also isn't about Catholics' closely held religious beliefs - because according to recent polls, 98% of Catholics have used birth control themselves (that link contains a very good description of what's going on, by the way, if my little lecture hasn't been enough for you).  This is about a very small group of (celibate) men trying to dictate the terms of what goes on in your relationship, your marriage, your bedroom, and your body.

If that doesn't piss you off, well, I don't know what will.

Reproductive freedom is a basic human right.  The World Health Organization says:
Reproductive rights rest on the recognition of the basic right of all couples and individuals to decide freely and responsibly the number, spacing and timing of their children and to have the information and means to do so, and the right to attain the highest standard of sexual and reproductive health. They also include the right of all to make decisions concerning reproduction free discrimination, coercion, and violence.
If it's true that "every sperm is sacred" for you, fine.  Good for you.  I hope you have a great job because I don't know how we're going to put our three pretty babies through college.  Assuming that you get married at age 25, like I did, and that you hit menopause at age 50, you've got 25 years of fertility there - and let's assume you have a kid every 18 months - we're talking 16 or 17 kids.  You must either come from money or plan on winning the lottery, or maybe you have different goals for your kids.  I don't know.  But it doesn't matter.  When YOUR religious beliefs start infringing on MY right to determine the size of my family, we have a serious, serious problem.

And furthermore, this planet just passed 7 billion people.  We can't all be Duggars.  Where are we supposed to put all these people?  Who is going to pay for them?  Two cats, if left to their own devices, can have over 80 million kittens in just 10 years.  Now, can you imagine how many people 7 billion people can have in the same time period?  Who is going to take care of all of them?  A bunch of celibate Catholic priests?  HARDLY.  (On the other hand, we may need all those people to take care of all the cats).

And what about the people, like my good friend Julie, who would dearly love to have more children but who can't because a pregnancy would literally kill her?  She has a heart condition.  She's a non-Catholic Christian.  Should she have to risk a pregnancy, and risk leaving her husband a widower and her children motherless because some celibate man thinks that his God is going to be pissed with her if she doesn't?  Should she and her husband have to endure a sexless marriage because of someone else's religious beliefs?  Why does the religious freedom of the Catholics trump her reproductive rights?  (Hint: it doesn't).

(And we haven't even touched on the whole abortion thing.  I do not have it in me to go there today.  Migraine.  Ugh.)

Even if it had been a table full of Catholic mothers, Ann, it wouldn't matter.  It would have been marginally less offensive, but frankly I get offended when any person of any religion tries to impose any of their religious values on anyone to whom they haven't personally given DNA.  And honestly, if you have a functioning uterus, I think you should too.  Because they aren't going to stop at not allowing their own employees access to birth control.  This is just one step in a systematic plan to strip all women everywhere of their basic right to determine the course of their own lives.

Why?  I wish I knew.  Maybe someone can explain it to me.  I welcome open discussion in the comments.

(And since they haven't thought of this, maybe the Catholics ought to start their own insurance company - Lord knows they have enough money - so that all the Catholic churches, universities, and companies can be insured by a Catholic insurance company which would therefore be religiously exempt from providing birth control.  But until they smarten up and do that, they're just going to have to STFU.)

Oh crap, one more thing.  Amish and Quaker people pay taxes, right?  And those taxes go to fund all kinds of things like war and electricity, that Amish and Quaker people don't believe in.  That's called "being a part of a society."  Sometimes your money gets used for things you don't personally approve of, but unless you're also willing to give up roads and police departments and fire departments and national security, you just have to freaking deal.  Personally, I choose to believe that all of the money we pay in taxes is the same exact money that comes back to us in research grants and contracts, which makes paying taxes a lot less painful.  I suggest that you adopt a similar belief.  If you're a really big fan of NASA, imagine that all your money goes directly to them.  If you hate NASA but love farmers, imagine your money being redistributed in the form of subsidies.  See how easy it is?


KaityK said...

As usual I completely agree with you! Here's a link to another good article on the subject of how truly large and terrifying this issue could become if people like you and I do not speak up for ourselves.'ll_still_be_fighting_about_it_100_years_from_now/

I think this article is a bit over the husband and most males I know do not think this way, but what is truly terrifying is that many of the men who run not only our country, but the entire world still feel this way. I think it is definitely an issue that needs to be discussed and thought about at length because this is going to be an issue that effects people for generations.

Left of Ordinary said...

Hear, hear, Amy! Well written.

morganna said...

I came here to link that Alternet article! I thought the most interesting point was that big societal changes can take hundreds of years to work through all the implications (eg it took 500 years to go from the printing press to the American & French revolutions, with the Reformation and Enlightenment in between).

Ann said...

I obviously struck a nerve, as you struck one with me. Thank you for going for a rant before you considered anyone else's perspective. Yes, I have a uterus that works. We wondered for a while, so thanks for rubbing salt in that wound. But yes I am pregnant right now with a baby that we prayed for and tried to conceive for 18 months. I don't plan on thanking God for this amazing gift of life by shutting him out of the plan right after the baby is born. However if for some reason if my husband and I do use birth control, I would not expect the catholic church to pay for it or tell me it is the right thing to do. Also for a person who doesn't want her religious views infringed upon you sure do have a lot of sterotypical things to say about the Catholic church.

Amy Austin said...

Ann, please tell me exactly what I said about the church that was factually inaccurate.

BCC Advising said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Carmen said...

Well written post. 100% agree. We're not all crazy bible-thumpers denying evolution and making babies here in the heartland of Kansas!

On another note, did you hear Rick Santorum call President Obama a "radical environmentalist" on Fox News. Seriously dude. Radical would be demanding solar power for all public government buildings or making the country convert to electric vehicles. I'd hardly call questioning the safety of an oil pipeline passing through the country from Canada as "radical". That's just called RESPONSIBLE in my book. Just sayin'.

Amy Austin said...

Santorum is scary as scary can be... I just saw this video on Uppercase Woman:

I think he's an elaborate practical joke. He's just beyond all sense.