From Democracy Now: “Catholic Church leaders are vowing to fight President Obama’s controversial birth-control insurance coverage policy despite his compromise that religious employers would not have to offer free contraceptives for workers. Under a compromise announced on Friday, Obama said religious employers could opt out of providing coverage, but their workers could then ask their insurance company for that benefit, and the company would be required to provide it free of charge.”
President Barack Obama: “The result will be that religious organizations won’t have to pay for these services, and no religious institution will have to provide these services directly. Let me repeat: these employers will not have to pay for or provide contraceptive services. But women who work at these institutions will have access to free contraceptive services, just like other women.”
This debate about whether or not employers should have to pay for contraception for their employees is absolutely outrageous, especially after Obama has created a compromise that will not require religious institutions to fund any part of a practice they find “sinful.” This issue further exposes the extremely conservative political climate that has gripped so much of our country and the absolute ignorance of many involved in the debate, from Foster Friess explaining “how “gals” used to stick Bayer aspirin between their knees” on MSNBC, to the barring of a female witness from the all male Contraception Rule Hearing. I feel like the United States is back in the dark ages.
What’s more, as the left have tried to fight back the onslaught of conservative nonsense, they’ve rallied behind the merits of chemical birth control like I’ve never seen before and find slightly alarming. It seems impossible in such a harsh political climate to take any kind of nuanced position. Although there may be medical reasons for some women to take birth control, and I most certainly believe that any woman who would like to take hormonal birth control should have free access, in general I’m no fan and hope that women will increasingly choose less invasive forms of birth control. I was on birth control from age 17 until age 23, and when I went off it changed my life for the better.
A very large percentage of young women aren’t doing the research about whether or not the pill or hormonal IUDs are actually the right choice for their bodies. They’ve never thought about the mental health and physical repercussions of taking hormones on a daily basis for a large period of their lives. Many young women are putting hormones and chemicals into their bodies so that their male partners won’t have to even think about sex as linked to reproduction, basically omitting male responsibility from any consequences of sex. Moreover, many women who are on the pill and yet have sex with multiple partners find it easier to succumb to pressures to have sex without condoms, putting their bodies at risk for STIs and other bacterial infections that could be avoided by simply using condoms and gloves. Condoms and gloves are actually the most universally useful form of birth control and STI prevention – useful and relevant for straight gay lesbian and queer men women and trans, for anal sex, sex with dildos, fisting, penis/vaginal sex.
If we can begin to think of “birth control” and “STI prevention” as linked when it comes to talking about sex, we can also begin to link the bodies of women men and trans, queer and straight. “Birth control access” is not a “women’s” issue only, or a straight women’s issue only—as neither are STIs only an issue for men, or only gay men; these issues should concern all of us and do impact all of us. Condoms and gloves should be free and freely available to everyone and should be part of our sexual reality in and out of partnership.
Foster Friess (Santorum Super PAC supporter): Bayer Aspirin For Contraception on MSNBC: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MMVzaIMYuTY
“Where Are the Women?”: Lawmakers Walk Out on Contraception Rule Hearing After Female Witness Barred: http://www.democracynow.org/2012/2/17/where_are_the_women_lawmakers_walk
My zine about the pill: