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Category Archives: reproductive rights

Hobby Lobby Needs a New Hobby

The Supreme Court heard Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby, last week, which asks the justices to consider whether for-profit companies can refuse certain types of medical coverage, citing religious objections. Hobby Lobby President Steve Green stated, “We do not have a problem with contraceptives . . . it is those that are abortive in nature—that is when it becomes a problem for us.”

As women are now blessed to have full contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act, the basis of this complaint, I maintain, is discriminatory in nature. Only contraceptives used by women are at question, like the morning after pill and the IUD. Hobby Lobby contends that these birth control methods are abortifacients, which they are not. Perhaps before allowing a case to come before the Supreme Court, the lawyers representing the organization should be required to take a class on how these methods actually prevent pregnancy.

The morning after pill prevents an egg from fertilizing but if the fertilized egg is already implanted in the uterus, it will not. Likewise, the IUD makes the uterus a hostile environment for the sperm so that the sperm can’t make it to the egg and the egg doesn’t want to hang out there.

Hobby Lobby is pushing, with this case, for corporations to be recognized as religious. Um . . . we already have that provision for not-for-profit religious organizations. They are called churches. And synagogues. And mosques. If the owners of Hobby Lobby want to go open a church and call it Hobby Church and not provide birth control and abortion to their employees, go for it. But you’re not going to make money off consumers who want to buy model air plane kits if you don’t obey the law like all the other companies.

Here’s some background on this company.Image

Hobby Lobby is a privately held, for-profit corporation with 13,000 employees. It’s owned by a trust managed by the Green family, devout Christians who run the company based on biblical principles. They close their stores on Sundays; start staff meetings with Bible readings, pay above minimum wage, and use a Christian-based mediation practice to resolve employee disputes. The Greens are even attempting to build a Museum of the Bible in Washington, DC. [Mother Jones, 3/21/14]

The Greens feel that they are being forced to pick between their religious convictions or pay penalties. This is why we have that lovely piece in our constitution on the “separation of church and state.” Where does one draw the line on religious convictions in these circumstances? What if a company is run by Christian Scientists who oppose all sorts of medical intervention? Then you’ll have no coverage. What if it is a company run by Jehovah’s Witnesses? You won’t be covered for blood transfusions or dialysis, for starters. Here we are again, at the precipice of a slippery slope. Let’s hope the Supreme Court, already divided on this one by gender (surprise!), makes a decision that keeps religious beliefs out of capitalism and allows women to have the same access to healthcare wherever they choose to work.

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Sexism and Racism and Classism, Oh My!

This past week has been one that in the words of my student “my parents did not raise me to be a queer feminist filled with the wrath of a thousand enraged dragons and yet here I am.”  Here we’ll recap all the awesome oppression taking place in a country which, on the cusp of it’s “birthday” still doesn’t get it.

Sexism:  I want to think this is internalized sexism, but it might include a little class privilege along with it. Serena Williams comments about the victim in the Stuebenville rape case were appalling. 
“Do you think it was fair, what they got? They did something stupid, but I don’t know. I’m not blaming the girl, but if you’re a 16-year-old and you’re drunk like that, your parents should teach you: Don’t take drinks from other people,” Williams said to Rodrick.” She’s 16, why was she that drunk where she doesn’t remember? It could have been much worse. She’s lucky. Obviously, I don’t know, maybe she wasn’t a virgin, but she shouldn’t have put herself in that position, unless they slipped her something, then that’s different.” (quoted in http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/06/18/serena-williams-steubenville-rape-victim_n_3462519.html).  My question is why this topic was even being discussed in a Rolling Stone article. 

Sexism Two:  Texas.  My favorite quote by Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, “Lawmakers, either get out of the vagina business or go to medical school.”  

Racism:  Cheerios put out a commercial with an inter-racial couple http://youtu.be/kYofm5d5Xdw.  Apparently inter-racial couples are controversial and there was so much hate speech about it that Cheerios disabled comments.  I continue to be amazed that in 2013 people actually have the balls to write out racist comments in public. Maybe I shouldn’t be shocked.  I get socialization, I get all the theory behind oppression but I don’t get people who hate. 

Racism Two:  Paula Deen. 

Classism:  Why does a millionaire sports figure like Aaron Hernandez decide to commit murder when he could afford to hire an anger management therapist? What a sad moment for young children who look up to athletes like him.

Oppression Renamed

As I’m making the slow drive to New Hampshire last Friday to see one of my besties home from Switzerland, I am listening to the “breaking news” on NPR about Obama’s plan to allow ALL women to obtain birth control in the year of our Lord, 2012. 

In a political move called compromise, the President bows slightly to the right and instead puts the onus on the insurance companies to cover the costs of women’s birth control.  If you haven’t followed the story, a quick recap:  Obama wanted to give all women in the U.S. birth control coverage under their health insurance no matter who was funding that insurance.  Previously, if a woman worked for a Catholic owned (or other religious affiliated institution)  organization, they could set up the health insurance to only provide services that did not conflict with their religious views and beliefs. 

The compromise forces insurance companies, who are contracted with these religious institutions, to cover the birth control so the organization won’t feel as if it’s “religious freedom” is being messed with.   The outcry by bishops was all the rage that Friday as I drove slowly toward Rt. 3 North.  And this outrage was expressed soley as Obama messing with religious freedom, the very foundation of our country.

Hmmmm.  So let’s break this down.  We are forcing the Catholic Church, the majority of whose female members USE birth control, to allow insurance companies to provide this birth control. I didn’t hear any women complaining about this.  The only people whining on the radio where men who felt that their religious freedom was being called into question.  Statistically speaking, Catholics are also the highest percentage of any religious group to get abortions.  (I wonder if this is connected to their inability to obtain birth control).

I am very uncomfortable with the term “religious freedom” being used in this matter.  For me, religious freedom allows anyone in this country to practice whatever religion they choose.  It does not, however, allow an institution like the Catholic Church to supersede federal laws providing equity for the protected class of women in this country. 

And lastly, because you know I could really drone on and on about this topic, I ask when will the Catholic Church and some of these right wing fundamental organizations come in to the 21st century and realize that controlling one’s family size and fertility should be in no way connected to anything religious?  This is an economic issue and one that speaks to the very core of women’s equality.  If a woman is not allowed to choose when and if to have a family she cannot be considered equal. 

This whole topic is ONLY a debate because it lies on the backs and belly’s of women.  I keep thinking this issue of reproductive rights will be resolved in my lifetime, but as I add 43 to my birth years, I am amazed at how now we are pitting reproductive rights opposite religious freedom.  It’s time the male leaders of the Catholic Church step back and leave women’s bodies out of their doctrine. 

And while I am not happy with Obama’s compromise, I have to give him credit for actually giving a damn that women weren’t getting equal coverage in birth control.  He’s the first one to take this on and that itself is worthy of note.

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