In a tight contest, the Supreme Court ruled today that private corporations can refuse to cover certain forms of contraceptives on the grounds that the companies find the contraceptives to be “morally repugnant” according to the companies’ religious beliefs. Check out a newsie-time rundown here.
So, particular contraceptives are against a company’s religious beliefs. Wait, can companies even have religious beliefs? I mean, they’re companies, not Sunday School goers who, like, eat and sleep and poop and stuff. But whatever, I guess. The specific companies-with-religious-beliefs in question are Hobby Lobby (but I looooooove all their crafty junk!), which also owns a Christian bookstore, and a Mennonite woodworking company.
The specific no-go contraceptives include Plan B, commonly referred to as “the morning after pill.” According to the suit, the companies hold religious objections to abortions, and as such, (and I quote, because this is too ridiculous for me to make up) “according to the their religious beliefs” (emphasis added), the precluded contraceptive methods are abortive in nature. Thus, by covering these methods of contraception in their health care benefits for employees, the company is effectively performing abortions.
So, okay. Hold on. I’m a reasonably intelligent adult (Have I told you lately how I have a PhD? Well, I do!), but I’m having a hard time wrapping my wittle bwain around this concept. So, a company (which apparently is capable of believing in things) says that based on their specific religious beliefs (as opposed to some OTHER company’s religious beliefs), these particular birth control methods are doomed to h-e-double hockey sticks. I have so many objections to this. I’ll get to them; don’t worry.
First, though, it’s only fair that I outline the rest of the ruling. Private companies don’t have to cover the four specific contraceptives outlined in the suit if the company holds a religious objection to them. That doesn’t mean companies can say, “Sorry, Slutty McHoochieMama. No baby-killing-pills for you. You’ll just have to keep those thighs clenched until you’re good and ready to get barefoot and pregnant in the kitchen where you belong! You’re welcome, and God bless you!!” They can, however, say, “Sorry, Mizzzzz McHoochieMama. We shan’t pay for these specific baby-killing-pills. You can still get other baby-killing-pills (which, for some inexplicable reason, this company takes no religious offense to). Oh, and we’ll pray for you and your wayward sexin’ ways!!”
No bigs, right? I mean regular birth control pills are SUPER cheap, right? Sometimes even FREE! Awww, but nah. Run of the mill oral contraceptives are cheap or free when a woman has health insurance that covers them. So, if companies were to get all uppity and decide ALL birth control pills are abominable baby-killing-machines and take moral offense to them, women would have to pay full sticker price for them. Although I don’t know much a month’s supply (A whole month?! What kind of floozy am I?!) of birth control is (because I have health insurance that makes them FREEEEEE!), I would venture a guess that – PRESTO! – proactive, informed decisions about sexual and reproductive health would be far less accessible and affordable to womankind.
But have no fear. The ruling states that should a private company deny coverage of baby-killing-pills and a woman be unable to foot the bill herself, THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT WILL PAY FOR THEM!! Never mind the cluster such-and-such that I envision the process of applying for the Obama to spot women their birth control. We’re really gonna rubber stamp the government PAYING for things? I just can’t believe that Americans are okay with this set up – particularly the subset of Americans who agree with this supreme court ruling. I mean, that money’s gotta come from somewhere.
Along the same lines, I’m entirely flabbergasted by the remarkable (non)logic around issues such as this one from the ultraconservative religious right (which I can’t imagine includes that many people, but DAMN!, are they loud and obnoxiously effective at getting their way!). My understanding (and full disclosure, I know basically nothing about politics) is that conservatives who often happen to be staunch-ish Christians ARE NOT fans of big government. They, like, don’t want to government to pay for a bunch of junk because, ultimately, WE pay for it. The taxpayers. Paying for stuff for probably-maybe-not-taxpayers. Ain’t nobody got time for that.
Except they’re okay with the government paying for baby-killing-pills? I can’t even.
In the larger women’s health debate, there’s been lots of discussion about whether insurance or the government (or anyone, for that matter) should pay for any form of birth control. We can’t have women making autonomous decisions about their bodies or their futures, after all. If women knew what was good for them, they’d keep it in their pants anyway. The problem with such an argument is that if we restrict women and girls’ (that’s right, I said it) access to safe, affordable, effective birth control (especially among lower SES, uneducated populations), we shouldn’t be surprised if we end up with a bunch of babies that otherwise wouldn’t exist. Who does the religious right think is going to pay for those tiny-angels-from-God? They are. Them there holier-than-thou taxpayers.
So we can either pay a smidgen on the front end (the vagina-end, to be clear) in the form of contraception, or pay a shadoobie-ton in lifetime costs of caring for slews of love-children on the back end. Apparently, we’ve chosen the back end.
But wait. The real problem, really, is all the sinful, slutty sex women are constantly having, right? If only we could get a grip on our libidos, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Way to go, hussies. If we choose to make the sexy time, I suppose we choose babies. So many babies. That’s just what this planet needs. More people.
I know what you’re thinking. There are literally tons of contraceptive options available to us hoes – er, women – if we insist on slutting it up. There are condoms. Who doesn’t love condoms?! I know guys do. Then there’s the pull-out method (a personal favorite of mine). That one pretty much always works. Let’s not forget doing it the butt. No babies that way!! And there’s dry humping. Because nothing says “I love you” like a pubic mound rubbed raw by blue jeans! So many options, ladies. If all else fails, I’m sure our partners will be so glad we ditched icky old birth control pills for good old abstinence!
But let’s get serious, folks. My most basic objection to the supreme court ruling is that it limits women’s autonomy in their sexual and reproductive decision-making and takes the full and unrestricted choice for how, when, and whether women reproduce out of their own hands and places it firmly in… their boss’s. That’d be a fun staff meeting. “Listen up, folks. Charlene filled out a request to have safe, protected sex with that guy she met at the dog park last month. I don’t know, I’m thinking that offends this company’s righteous religious belief that dog park dudes are dirty hippies, so if a woman is going to do sex with one, she should at least sanctify it by having his baby and converting him to the Holy Church of We’re Better Than You. Board of Directors, let’s take a vote. All in favor of Charlene’s request for baby-killing-pills, say, ‘Ay, papi.’ All opposed, say, ‘Boo, you whore.’ That settles it. Charlene, no birth control for you. You can boink him if you want. But you’ll suffer eternal damnation – your choice. Okay! Moving on. The quarterly report is due…”
My second objection to the ruling is OMG… SEPARATION OF CHURCH AND STATE. A most basic tenet of this grand country is that government is for government and church is for church. Period. The ruling completely muddles the two and opens the door for companies positing religious objections to all sorts of things. It may not stop at contraceptives. A company could oppose and deny vaccines, mental health care (oh no, they betta not!), or any specific medical intervention it so chooses. A number of Christian/neo-Christian sects are morally opposed to blood transfusion. Could individual private companies prohibit that, too? I don’t see why not. From where I’m sitting, the current ruling sure looks a lot like legal precedent to me. Good heavens, the slippery slope is frightening.
The ruling also begs the question about which religion, specifically, are we talking. It’s all well and good when Protestant Christians wanna run the show, but what happens when a Muslim-run company wants to start dropping the Islamic hammer. I have a feeling the religious right might have reservations about that. So now the courts are going to be put in the precarious position of determining which religious beliefs are legitimate in the eyes of the law. Call me dim-witted, but isn’t that precisely the kind of religion-driven shenanigans our forefathers fled the motherland to escape?
As part of American citizens’ constitutional rights, employers are prohibited from discriminating against employees or prospective employees on the basis of the employee’s religious affiliation. Based on this ruling, though, one could argue that private employers now have the green light to discriminate against employees on the basis of the company’s religious affiliation by limiting employees’ access to medically-vetted health care options. Further, it could be argued that the company would be discriminating against the employee for NOT sharing the same religious beliefs as the company, which is essentially the same thing as directly discriminating against the employee based on the employee’s religious affiliation. I understand that my use of “discrimination” here is fairly generous, but you get my point. The company would be, like, saying “Yo. Baby-killing-pills are against our religious beliefs even if they’re not against yours. Too bad, so sad! My religion wins! No baby-killing for you on my dime!”
Like I said, I think it’s a slippery slope, and I don’t like it. Finally, call me an angry feminist, but I’m pret-ty sure that if the ruling limited old, fat white guys’ access to viagra (and thus humping shockingly younger women for pay for up to four hours at a time), we’d be hearing a lot more uproar. From dudes. Old, fat white ones who can’t get laid without viagra. And a substantial amount of cash. Those guys are the ones with the power. And the viagra.