Friday, July 04, 2014

Is It A Happy July 4th For Everyone?



Today is the day we celebrate the creation of the United States. On July 4, 1776, the founding fathers signed the Declaration of Independence. This document declared the nation free from the rule of Great Britain, and thus independent. And then the people of this country went to war with Great Britain. If we had lost, we would not be celebrating.

The second sentence of the Declaration of Independence is well known. It says: We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

Apparently, though, given a Supreme Court ruling made earlier this week, that all-encompassing definition of "men" as being all of humanity is still not accepted. The female part of the species once again was given short shrift by the ol' white guys who continue to maintain their hold on the nation.

I'm talking, of course, about the Burwell v. Hobby Lobby decision of the Supreme Court. (You may read it at the link; it's 95 pages long, and yes, I read it.)

The issue is broad and complicated, and for me to try to sort it out not only for myself but for my readers would be ludicrous. It is the sort of thing that will have lawyers salivating for years.

However, I do have an opinion on it, and that I will share.

In my opinion, this is not about abortion or religious freedom. It is about control. Specifically, it is about control of women. I see this as nothing more than another in a long line of efforts to continue to make women "less than" those who believe the ones with things that dangle between their legs are more important and legitimate than those of us who bring forth the entire species. It is the fight that began in 1776, when the ol' white guys chose to write "all men are created equal" instead "all of humanity are created equal."

Apparently across the waters and in the US in the more left-wing corners, the issue is being regarded by some as "men can screw around, so women should be able to do so, too" issue. I have never seen this as that kind of issue, something that is pushing promiscuity.

As far as I'm concerned, birth control is medication, and to deny it for any reason is a crime. It's as vital to some women as chemotherapy is to some cancer patients. I don't care what your religion thinks of it. Taking it should be my choice, and an issue between me and my doctor. To add in a third party is the same as making me chattel to the third party, whether that's my boss, my insurance company, my father, or the government.

Basically, what it boils down to is this: If my religion doesn't allow me to do XYZ, then that's fine. I live with that. This isn't fine: My religion doesn't allow YOU to do XYZ. That's not okay, fair, or moral. You don't have a say over my life. That's not your call.

Keep your religion to yourself and we'll get along fine.

The can of worms opened by this opinion from the Supreme Court is huge. First, there is the "corporations are people" concern. Corporations have no morals and no religion, nor, in my opinion, can they hold any kind of religious ideals. The stockholders may, but they are not corporations.

In the SCOTUS opinion, there is this:


"HHS [United States Department of Health and Human Services] would put these merchants to a difficult choice: either give up the right to seek judicial protection of their religious liberty or forgo the benefits, available to their competitors, of operating as corporations."


And that, quite frankly, is what they should do. Why shouldn't they have to make a difficult choice? They certainly don't mind foisting difficult choices upon others. These companies should give up their corporate status and become sole proprietors. They would lose tons of tax breaks and benefits, and they should not be allowed those benefits if they intend to make chattel of the female portion of their workforce by forcing their religious views down their throats.

No one has the right to interfere with how you or I use our bodies. Your right to do what you want with your body ends only when whatever you doing interferes with my right to do what I want with mine. Smoking is a good example. You can do that all you want so long as you're not polluting my air. If you want to do it in your own home or car and give yourself cancer, that is not my business. But if you want to smoke in a public place and set off my asthma, then it damn well is my business.

But what goes on in a woman's womb is nobody's business but hers. You can't get more personal and private than that. Why is a woman's vagina better regulated than gun ownership? Can somebody give me a good answer for that one?

Frankly, it would make more sense for society to be proactive with birth control because otherwise we end up with children we need to care for. It would be one thing if these pro-birthers were actually pro-life and would ensure that unwanted children are provided for through tax dollars, but they are the first ones to howl if they think their money is going to pay for somebody else's kid.

The other thing that aggravates me about this is I am a pacifist. I do not believe in war, yet I have no recourse but to pay my tax dollars even though I know that some of my money is going to kill other human beings. Why do these religious zealots who worry about their magical beliefs on abortion get an out but my reasoned and logical faith that tells me killing is amoral does not get me one?

Here's the answer to that: in a similar ruling on a related matter late this week, Justice Sonya Sotomayor wrote: “But thinking one’s religious beliefs are substantially burdened — no matter how sincere or genuine that belief may be — does not make it so.”
 
And I think that this is the case about many of the so-called persecutions many religious zealots (mostly Christians) claim to be subjected to really are: a belief, but not a reality. There was no burden on Hobby Lobby's owners. It only existed in their little minds. (For a great essay on what the Bible has to say about when a fetus becomes a person, check out this link. It's not at conception, biblically speaking. It's at first breath.)

However, religious extremists are working hard to inflict their belief system upon a vast portion of the population - and women are bearing the brunt of it. This ruling has erased the choices of thousands of women. If their boss thinks they should not have a certain drug because of religious conviction, then so be it.  The "closely held" corporate definition is silly: Mars Candy employs 70,000 people and it is a "closely held" corporation. The Supreme Court just gave them the right to tell all of their female employees they will not provide certain medications in their insurance coverage because of their religion.

If the Jehovah's Witnesses had objected because they don't believe in blood transfusions, what would the ruling have been? Other religions don't believe in antidepressants or immunizations. What about those beliefs? Why is the abortion argument the one that is given the most credit? You know why? Because those other kinds of religious convictions would affect males. That is where it stops: when it affects men.

And if this had come from a Muslim-controlled corporation, would the ruling have been the same? I think not. Just look at the religion of the SCOTUS majority and you'll have your answer to that one.

Birth control has many uses. It is not only used by unmarried young women who want to sleep around. Married women use birth control pills for any number of reasons - because of finances, space, housing, health. The pills and the devices have legitimate medicinal uses. They help with migraines. They keep women from being anemic. Are you going to tell a diabetic woman who would die if she were to become accidentally pregnant that she must take that risk? What if an IUD is the only thing she can use because the pills cause side effects or hormone imbalances? Why is it okay to cause her pain or death?

I was on birth control while I was trying to conceive. My doctors would put me on the pill to try to control my endometriosis, then take me off it so we could try to have a child. It didn't work. But it was medicinal. So why shouldn't it be covered medical care?

This is about personal choice, and whether the big white boss's opinion means more than yours. The Supreme Court
just said oh yes, little lady, the big white daddy gets to make the call for you.


If these kinds of rules had been in place 25 years ago, I would be dead.

Fortunately then, and I hope still now, men do not have rule over women and do not have the right to tell us how we can live. Women should have the same right to health care as men. If men can get Viagra so that they can feel manly - and as far as I know that's the only use for that drug - then I certainly don't understand what the issue is with birth control, regardless of form.

Here's another reason to be upset about this ruling. In an article at Medscape.com, the writer noted:


Several medical societies also took umbrage at how the Hobby Lobby decision will affect the practice of medicine. The ruling "intrudes on the patient-physician relationship," said AMA President Robert Wah, MD, in a statement. Likewise, the AAFP's Dr. Blackwelder told Medscape Medical News that physicians should have the freedom to prescribe contraceptives and other medications as they deem fit, and "insurance should cover the right choice."



Another medical society critical of the Hobby Lobby ruling is the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG). "[It] inappropriately allows employers to interfere in women's healthcare decisions," said ACOG President John Jennings in a news release.


There's that word "intrusive" that I alluded to earlier. This ruling is nothing but a throw-back to an earlier time, to the very day we are celebrating.

We are celebrating a time when angry white guys ruled the world. So Happy July 4th? Not if you're a woman. It will only be my Independence Day when I have obtained the exact same rights of every man in this country - when all of humanity is acknowledged as being equal. And that is a long way away from happening, given what just happened this week.

5 comments:

  1. I totally agree with you! Well written!

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  2. The female Supreme Justices are NOT happy about the decision. THAT says a lot as far as I am concerned... but then they are only women, right? I have never felt it more than now, that Supreme Court Justices should not be allowed a lifetime term wearing those robes which are not about justice to them but about party lines. The American people should be allowed to vote on new Justices every four years, just like the president or any other political seat. Corporations are given far too much power and it would seem that these male SC Justices are owned by the Corporations and plan to do their dirty work for them until 'we the people' have absolutely no rights left. I am appalled.

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  3. I totally agree with everything you wrote. There is a school of thought that an employer shouldn't have to change his/her/its firmly held religious beliefs and if we don't agree, we don't have to work for them. OK ... so when in the interview process do I ask -- "Do you support a woman's legal right to choose? Where do you stand on reproductive freedom?" It's ludicrous.

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  4. The court not only said that corporations are people, but they are people with religion who can impose their religion on YOU. How long before we are just like Pakistan? Or Iran? Obviously it's all a bunch of bullshit. Hobby Lobby is about as religious as my big toe. If they were really Jesus-like, they'd be giving all their money away to help poor people. It's an excuse for control (like you said) which means money and power. Religion has been used for these purposes forever.

    This is one of your best pieces Anita. I wish there was a way I could share it to FB.

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  5. *Applause* Well said, Anita!

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