She came to my creative writing class twice. After that, she went to a home for women like her; a place where hope against hope, she and her baby might have a chance. I met her in a jail where I taught creative writing each week. I doubt that she decided to get pregnant and then said to herself, “I think I’d like to be pregnant in jail and then have the baby in a lock down facility so that my child can know institutionalization from the first days of its life.” Jail is not a good place to be. Your neighbors are all meth or heroin addicts who don’t know how to live life without being immersed in self-disdain. And it’s certainly no place to have a baby.
But life is precious. Life is sacred, right? I agree with that. Still, the emotional, spiritual and financial cost of unwanted children does not paint much of a precious or sacred picture. If you believe that birth control is some form of abortion, then don’t take it. I believe that accessible, no cost birth control is more of a public health issue than it is a religious issue. The question of when life begins is a theological one, best left to personal religious convictions and not meant to be crammed down the throat of someone who does not think like you. It has no place in politics. I think about that young woman in jail, and I wonder if her life or her child’s life is any better than the day I met her in my class at Jefferson County. I know that her life is probably more complicated.
The mandate in the Affordable Care Act to cover birth control was a sliver of a universal care policy that women in other industrialized countries don’t even have to think about. It’s only the religious right here in America that pushes back on something that is good for women and good for the society. Planning the size of your family is a responsible thing to do, and a woman with health care insurance should be able to have that option rather than forgo birth control and pray that she doesn’t wind up with too many mouths to feed. For some families, the cost of birth control can and does make a difference in their day-to-day life. It can, as the saying goes, “take food off of the table.”
Why is it that we are so eager to talk about the religious freedom of denying birth control, but we cannot start a national dialogue about over population? Why is it that while the Christian right is yelling and screaming about the sacredness of life, adoption laws remain complicated and impossible? And from a purely fiscal perspective, isn’t the cost of contraception less than the cost of unwanted children? Doesn’t the cost of unwanted children cause us to run an ongoing spiritual deficit?
My little business was set up as a corporation many years ago and my corporation pays taxes. The message that I keep getting is that my corporation has a strong political voice. Evidently it is a person, and though I have never taken my corporation to church, it has religious freedom and rights that cannot be denied. So this year, I want to include a letter with my tax return saying that war is against my moral and spiritual beliefs; war does not recognize the sanctity of life. Therefore, as a corporation with religious rights, I will not be paying taxes this year because it is against my religious beliefs to pay money that will be used to kill innocent civilians with drones or guns.
At the end of the day, corporations don’t actually reach into their pockets and pull out the check book for birth control, but rather have insurance policies that privately assist women who want birth control. In the long run, birth control costs are far less expensive than pregnancy costs, and far less than unwanted pregnancy costs. The creeping sense that dogs me is that this horrible decision, made by men, is less about a corporation’s religious freedom and more about power over women, who the religious right, it seems, would like to keep barefoot, pregnant and in their place! Don’t want big government in your business–how about this: I don’t want big religion in mine!
Young men and women are going to have sex. That’s a given. That’s hormones. A public health care policy that mandates no-cost contraception for women is in the best interest of society as a whole. What’s really interesting about this extraction of no birth control from a health insurance policy is that Viagra and vasectomies are still part of health insurance plans. So, let me get this straight, if you are a man you can have a procedure that prevents you from impregnating a woman, but that is not considered contraception. And if you are a man, your almighty, all-powerful boner is going to be protected, because, after all, boys will be boys. Viva Viagra.
The Supreme Court decision of yesterday sucks for a myriad of reasons: corporations aren’t really people, so they don’t have the cognition to have “religious rights.” Secondly, birth control IS a public health care issue. We don’t want babies being born in jail, and we want men and women to responsibly plan their family size. Do we think it’s a good idea to have unwanted children growing up in a society that constantly cuts benefits to such children? The Christian right’s politics seem to be all about protecting the fetus but screwing the toddler. I don’t want to give those little “takers” food stamps after all! And finally, this Supreme Court decision underscores the fact that Christianity is a man’s religion that holds women as second-class citizens and chattel.
I believe in the constitution and the separation of church and state. The religious overlay of self-righteous Justices who place their personal beliefs before objectivity is what has made the Roberts court the worst Supreme Court ever. I cannot help but feel that we march toward our own Sharia type of Law with these bozos running the show. In the meantime, yesterday’s decision patted corporation’s on the back and told them “there, there,” and told women to go home, get pregnant and shut up. I still think that laws are supposed to be written and upheld for the good of the people and not the benefit of religion or corporations…but, oh I forgot, “corporations are people too.” I guess I will take my corporation to church this Sunday and together we can pray for our deliverance from a building theocracy that seeks to undermine our democracy.