6 Mar

Birth control.

Until the not-so-distant past (like a few weeks ago), birth control was a little-discussed topic in political circles and on the news.  The pill was first approved for use in 1960 and has been used by millions of women world-wide since, with very little controversy in my lifetime.  What sparked the current debate is the Health and Human Services rule that under Obamacare all health insurance plans will have to provide birth control to all women who wish to use it, free of charge.  This includes health insurance plans provided by institutions of the Catholic Church, who fundamentally oppose birth control, and up until now have not been required to provide it.

Catholics are outraged.  Feminists are outraged at their outrage.  Cries of indignation that the Republican Party is trying to restrict access to birth control are all over the news and social media.  Sandra Flukes, a law student at Georgetown (a Catholic university) testified before congress that birth control is prohibitively expensive for grad students like her, and that her school insurance should provide it free of charge.  Rush Limbaugh called her a slut and a prostitute because she wants other people to subsidize her sex life.  He later apologized but she didn’t accept, and the damage had been done already.  Now Rush’s words are being used as proof of the GOP’s war on women.

Let me be clear.  I do not agree with Rush Limbaugh’s choice of words.  I just wrote a post about the current tone in our politics, which I despise.  He was wrong to call a young woman he does not know, who was testifying before Congress, a slut and a prostitute.  Even though he apologized you simply cannot un-ring that bell.  He was wrong wrong wrong.

But this entire debate has been hijacked.


It is RIDICULOUS how far it has devolved.

No one is trying to restrict access to birth control.  No one.  Not Congressional Republicans, not the presidential candidates.  Not even Rush Limbaugh, although as a broadcaster he is not in any position to do so anyway.

The debate is about the federal government trying to force religious institutions to pay for a product that they deem to be immoral.  The Catholic Church has a long and documented history of opposition to birth control.  This is not some new-fangled position that the Pope dreamed up to oppress women.  The Church has never provided birth control for it’s employees.  This is not a God-given right that is now, all of a sudden, being threatened.

This is about religious liberty, and also about the federal government intruding farther and farther into our lives.    Whatever happened to the government staying out of our bedrooms?  If the government can mandate that insurance pay for birth control, it can also mandate that insurance not pay for birth control.  I, personally, do not want my government to have that sort of power.

So can we discuss that, please, instead of what Sandra Fluke said and what Rush Limbaugh said and if there were any women testifying at a hearing on religious liberty?

This issue is simply too important to be distracted by sideshows.

4 Responses to “Ridiculous”

  1. Rebecca March 6, 2012 at 6:20 pm #

    Good article Sarah! I vehemently oppose your position, but I love your writing 🙂 Keep them coming! And remember some of us can hold a civilized debate. I do think you’re wrong about the government never requiring catholic institutions to provide BC. Until now, the only catholic institutions that weren’t required were churches. Places like Georgetown and Catholic sponsored hospitals still had to provide this in their health plans. And of course I do want to discuss the fact that absolutely no women were on the panel advocating religious freedom.

    One question for you, and I haven’t heard this discussed at all on any news outlet. I mainly listen to NPR on the radio by the way, I don’t have TV/cable. How does the restriction that most catholic authorities advocate affect the religious freedom of their employees? If their religious beliefs allow birth control, even if they work for a catholic institution, then why shouldn’t they get the same health care they would get at another employer? I would think that would just be fair? Again, there is no right answer and I haven’t heard that side of the debate.

    Love ya!

    • sarahshellock March 6, 2012 at 6:45 pm #

      Hi Rebecca! Thanks for chiming in–I LOVE a thoughtful respectful debate 🙂

      I have heard your question a few times, when discussing this among friends. Essentially I do not think that not providing free birth control jeopardizes an employee’s freedom of religion. I am Anglican, and my church does allow for the use of contraceptives, but it certainly does not require it in order for me to live out my faith. The Catholic church does not say that it’s employees may not use contraceptives, just that they do not wish to in any way pay for them. Their employees can still go to Wal-Mart and get a month’s supply of the pill for $9, or use condoms, which are cheap and also handed out like candy all over the place.

      Love you too!

  2. Rebecca March 6, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    And one more thing I never understood, although this really leads to another debate.

    If the government should stay out of the bedroom, then why does it have the right to say who can and cannot marry?

    • sarahshellock March 6, 2012 at 6:49 pm #

      I agree with you on this one, although my position is not set in stone. I definitely believe that homosexual couples should be afforded that same rights as heterosexual couples, but “marriage” has historically been between a man and a woman. I think that if civil unions (or maybe some other descriptive word or phrase) were used to describe the homosexual union that might be ok, as long as they were afforded all of the same rights under the law. But I am not anti-gay marriage, just open to different solutions.

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