Birth control controversy pains editor

Staci Poston, Managing Editor

As Jon Stewart said on “The Daily Show” on Feb. 14, “You’ve confused a war on religion with not always getting everything you want.”

The Affordable Care Act has recently undergone a slew of controversy, even inspiring a widely-publicized Congressional hearing about whether the Obama administration had overstepped its bounds and “trampled” on religious freedom with mandated birth control coverage.

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has fought against the act, which, in its original form, required religiously-affiliated businesses to subsidize the cost of birth control, which is thought of as preventative care, in their health plans.

After the backlash, the Obama administration revised the act in an attempt to compromise; now the insurance company, rather than the business, must cover the cost.  You hear that?  Religious organizations are now left out of the equation.  They’re not paying for the cost of birth control!

Even after the addendum, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is still in opposition, claiming that the regulation will require Catholics in the insurance industry to violate their consciences. Here’s my solution:  If you don’t like it, don’t use it.

As a woman who takes birth control pills for more reasons than simply contraceptive purposes, I have been both astounded and appalled at the arguments I’ve seen in the news recently about the health care mandate giving women access to birth control through their insurance companies.

Notice I said “access.”  No one is forcing them to take it.  No one is opening their mouths and putting the pill on their tongue.  The mandate simply provides the option to obtain birth control – for PMDD (premenstrual dysphoric disorder), hormonal imbalances, ovarian cysts, endomitosis, and, yes, the dreaded, stigmatized, contraceptive.  Because apparently employers should be able to decide if their employees’ sex lives are solely for the purpose of producing offspring or not, and that doesn’t cross any bounds.

Have any of the men who have been extremely vocal in opposing this legislation ever laid on the bathroom floor for three or four days out of the month, writhing in pain and periodically throwing up?  Have they ever been unable to attend class, go to the grocery store, or function as a coherent member of society due to the sheer pain of their uterine lining systematically detaching and expelling itself?

Then they should not be able to cite religious freedom and morals as a reason why women – who work for organizations that are church-affiliated but not churches themselves – cannot have insurance coverage for a medicine that allows them to get off the bathroom floor and carry on a normal life.  This issue is about women’s health, not imposing religious ideologies on employees who may or may not even be religious.

If this is the precedent we’re setting, then watch out if you’re working for any Scientology-affiliated organizations. You’ll get nothing, because that’s their religious freedom not only within their church, but within any public organization that they affiliate themselves with.  What kind of outcry will that cause, when old white men can’t get their Viagra?

Because the organizations arguing about providing insurance coverage of birth control to women have been providing coverage of Viagra.  You can get the motor going, but stopping it from polluting the environment is unacceptable.

This is putting the religious beliefs of employers over the health of employees.  This argument should be about women’s health, not about religious conscience.