Portrait By Kiva Bay

Dax Murray

Book reviews, coding thoughts, feminist rants, and occasional cats.

I like my birth control just how it is, kthx


There are currently 5 Republican women in Congress, and two of them have come out in support of the birth control mandate as most recently modified (women still get their co-pay free birth control, and churches don't have to pay for it). Sens. Olympia Snowe (ME) and Susan Collins (ME) have shown support for birth control in the past.So, while the rest of the Republicans are trying to march themselves into non-relevance by wanting to take women back to the dark ages, at least these women are taking a stand.

Unlike these women, some Republicans are mistaking the pill (which, with copays, can sometimes cost as much as $120/month) for condoms (picked up at a store for $5 for a box of 12). Says Santorum:

[I]nterestingly enough, here is what they are forcing them to do — in an insurance policy, they or forcing them to pay for something that costs just a few dollars. Is that what insurance is for? The foundational idea that we have the government tells you that you have to pay for everything as a business. Things that are not really things you need insurance for, and still forcing on something that is not a critical economic need, when you have an economic distress, where you would need insurance. But forcing them even more to do it for minor expenses. [emphasis added]

Back when I was still on the pill, I could get a generic for $10/month, and $30/month for name-brand. My insurance didn't discriminate in perscriptions, if a doctor wrote it, and it came in a generic brand, it was $10, if it couldn't be substituted, the name brand was $30 copay.

However, after it was determined that I could not be on a hormonal birth control, and my doctor decided it was best that I get the non-hormonal IUD, my insurance balked. I had to find a way to come up with nearly $700.

So, no, Santorum, birth control isn't just pocket change (unless you are Mitt Romney and just have cash to burn.) Birth control is a medical prescription that can add up to $700/year, and, for many women of today, that is a month of rent, an entire paycheck, and entire month of income. That isn't just something we have lying under our couch.

Not only does he think insurance coverage for birth control shouldn't be mandatory, he also expresses extremely disconcerting views on it's morality, and on its legality.

In recent interviews he has vowed to do away with all federal funding for contraception, saying that it devalues the act of procreation and that it allows for sex outside of marriage without the girl being punished for being a filthy whore by getting pregnant.

I would argue that birth control actually places a higher value on procreation, as it allows a couple to decide when the best time for a child is (emotionally, physically, financially, ect), and ensures that each pregnancy is a wanted pregnancy, and not an "oops" baby. Being on a form of contraception is saying "I understand that by having sex, I may get pregnant. And I am being responsible by using birth control, because I know that my resources, be they emotional, phsyical or financial, are not enough to raise a child from infancy to adulthood. I respect my limits, and would not do anything that may stretch those limits to the point of being unable to care for another human."

But Ricky here seems to think that he can impose his religious views on the rest of the nation, should he become president. Not okay. To any woman who has sex outside of marriage (which is 95% of you!) and any woman who uses a form of contraceptive (99% of you!) he has a few choice words:

"One of the things I will talk about, that no president has talked about before, is I think the dangers of contraception in this country. It’s not okay. It’s a license to do things in a sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be. [Sex] is supposed to be within marriage. It’s supposed to be for purposes that are yes, conjugal…but also procreative. That’s the perfect way that a sexual union should happen…This is special and it needs to be seen as special.

Yes, your sex is evil, and wrong, and according to his book It Takes a Family you are reason that America is "in decline."

I do not want this guy to be in the White House.  Doing away with publically funded contraception would increase the number of abortions. As of right now, Guttmacher estimates that publicly funded contraception prevents almost two million unintended pregnancies in a year. Statistically speaking, forty percent of unintended pregnancies end with an abortion. So, thanks to Title X funding, almost 80,000 abortions are prevented in a year. That's a lot of abortions that aren't happening. (I wonder how many abortions sidewalk counselors prevent, probs not as many as Title X clinics.)

Graph from Guttmacher, detailing the number of unplanned pregnancies averted with federally funded contraception, and how that hypothetical pregnancy would have ended.

Further, Mr. Santorum believes that states should have the right to outlaw birth control. Birth control was, at one point, banned in the United States, and a few states allowed it if the couple was married. One Connecticut law was taken to the Supreme Court, known as Connecticut v Griswold. The court ruled that states could not ban birth control for married couples, claiming that these couples had the right to marital privacy with which the state could not interfere. This ruling was later expanded to include unmarried couples in Einstadt v. Baird. These cases were heard back in the 1960's, and fifty years later, Mr. Santorum doesn't think that a couple has the right to keep government out of the bedroom. Mr. Santorum, currently surging on a wave of "small government" believes that the government can tell a couple what they can and cannot do in the bedroom. Government! Now small enough to fit between sheets!

Most of the recent debacle about birth control has come up because of the Obama mandate requiring birth control without copay. The Catholic Church is now faking a "war on religion" and lobbying Congress to ban birth control all together (How dare the government tell us what to do! Now, government, force the people to follow our belief system!)

From a purely judicial view point, no such thing is happening. The Supreme Court has ruled several times that when federal law butts head with religious beliefs, the law wins. Ironically, it is Christian conservative Antonin Scalia that best argues this case. In Employment Division v. Smith, Scalia says:

We have never held that an individual’s religious beliefs excuse him from compliance with an otherwise valid law prohibiting conduct that the State is free to regulate. On the contrary, the record of more than a century of our free exercise jurisprudence contradicts that proposition.

Other cases where First Amendment religious speech comes to heads with federal law is in cases of polygamy, and human sacrifice, which are explored here:

“… the only question which remains is whether those who make polygamy a part of their religion are excepted from the operation of the statute. If they are, then those who do not make polygamy a part of their religious belief may be found guilty and punished, while those who do, must be acquitted and go free. This would be introducing a new element into criminal law. … Suppose one believed that human sacrifices were a necessary part of religious worship; would it be seriously contended that the civil government under which he lived could not interfere to prevent a sacrifice? Or if a wife religiously believed it was her duty to burn herself upon the funeral pile of her dead husband; would it be beyond the power of the civil government to prevent her carrying her belief into practice? … To permit this would be to make the professed doctrines of religious belief superior to the law of the land, and, in effect, to permit every citizen to become a law unto himself. Government could exist only in name under such circumstances.”

In United States v. Lee, a case from 1982 where Amish communities sought to not pay taxes for religious reasons, was resolved thusly:

“When followers of a particular sect enter into commercial activity as a matter of choice, the limits they accept on their own conduct as a matter of conscience and faith are not to be superimposed on the statutory schemes that are binding on others in that activity. Granting an exemption from social security taxes to an employer operates to impose the employer’s religious faith on the employees.”

I could say word for the word the exact same thing about the current birth control coverage controversy (or, as it has been called, the non-troversy.)

Catholic women use birth control, and there are many, many people today who do not believe that birth control is evil, and in fact, see it as a positive thing that is morally right.  There are very few doctors out there who would deny a perscription of birth control, and many who say that medical ethics demand birth control be available freely.

</div> The funny thing about this birth control debacle, is that numerous states, and numerous federal mandates, already require most employers to cover birth control. The thing that is new about this mandate, the thing that makes this mandate different, is that now this birth control is available without a co-pay or a deductible; now it is free.

According to Julie Rovner of NPR:

In fact, employers have pretty much been required to provide contraceptive coverage as part of their health plans since December 2000. That's when the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that failure to provide such coverage violates the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act. That law is, in turn, an amendment to Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which outlaws, among other things, discrimination based on gender.
More than half the states have similar "contraceptive equity" laws on the books, many with religious exceptions similar or identical to the one included in the administration's regulation.

So, I really don't understand all they whining from people like Rick Santorum and the Catholic Bishops. If you don't like birth control, no one is forcing you to use it. So, please, do not force us to live by the same values you hold.

There is no war on religion going on here, Obama and the ACA are merely taking existing laws which require birth control coverage and expanding them so that coverage is free.

If birth control is more freely available and more affordable, you can bet there will be less unintended pregnancies, and therefore, less abortion. And we all know how much the Catholic Bishops and Santorum hate abortion, so please allow us to take steps to prevent the need for abortion before that need arises.