Category Archives: birth control

Consequence-Free Sex

It was entirely predictable that right-wing males would act like giant assholes in the wake of the Hobby Lobby ruling; after all, these are the perpetually-aggrieved folks who have felt neutered by “feminazis” since women first demanded the vote.

My favorite response was from Douchebag Emeritus Erick W. Erickson, who tweeted:

erick

And yet, because Hobby Lobby pays for men’s Viagra, that is exactly what this employer is doing: subsidizing consequence-free sex, only just for men. Because, by virtue of biology, all sex for men is consequence-free. It just is. Birth control levels the playing field for women. And it is no surprise that conservative men, whose most unifying feature is an overarching inferiority complex, have been threatened by that since the first cave lady brewed her special cup of herbal tea to keep the babies away. Insecure men will always try to control that which they cannot control. And that’s what we have here.

This, from The New Republic, sums it up thusly:

There’s a reason so many women were outraged on Monday. They saw the decision as yet another attempt to preserve the old double-standard—to dump most of the responsibility for reproductive health and child-bearing on them, in ways that inevitably deter gender equality. With comments like Erickson’s bouncing around cyberspace, it’s easy to see why they had that impression.

Yeah, it’s not an “impression.” It’s called reality.

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Filed under birth control, feminism, sex, Supreme Court, women's rights

Religion Is Dead

That will be the upshot of today’s completely outrageous Hobby Lobby ruling. The U.S. Supreme Court has effectively killed religion.

I know, it looks the opposite, but what have I said here a gazillion, bajillion times, folks? When religion gets forced on people by government or corporations, religion always dies. People don’t want this shit foisted on them. As I’ve said a thousand times before, the surest way to kill off religious belief is to declare a “state religion.” The bigger religion’s role in the secular aspects of life, the more people run away from it.

And in this ruling SCOTUS said some corporations can impose the beliefs of some religions on some employees, effectively legalizing discrimination against women and certain religions. If you’re a company owned by Jehova’s Witnesses, sorry, you have to pay for blood transfusions. No out for Scientologists who object to psychiatry and psychiatric drugs. Christian Scientists who don’t believe in most healthcare at all still have to pony up. But if you’re a Christian fundiegelical who believes completely erroneously and incorrectly that IUDs cause abortions — even though they don’t! — you can refuse to offer a healthcare plan covering that form of birth control to your female employees. That’s what SCOTUS just ruled.

The debate wasn’t even really about the Hobby Lobby peoples’ religious beliefs, it was about their completely erroneous, counter-factual scientific beliefs cloaked in religion:

Hobby Lobby already covered 16 of the 20 methods of contraception mandated under the Affordable Care Act, but it didn’t cover Plan B One-Step, ella (another brand of emergency contraception) and two forms of intrauterine devices because of aforementioned ideologically driven and not medically based ideas about abortion.

“These medications are there to prevent or delay ovulation,” Dr. Petra Casey, an obstetrician-gynecologist at the Mayo Clinic, told the New York Times in a piece on the science behind emergency contraception. “They don’t act after fertilization.” As the Times noted, emergency contraception like Plan B, ella and the hormonal IUD do not work by preventing fertilized eggs from implanting in the womb. Instead, these methods of birth control delay ovulation 0r thicken cervical mucus to prevent sperm from reaching the egg, meaning that fertilization never even occurs. That said, when used as a form of emergency contraception, the copper IUD can interrupt implantation, but this still does not mean a pregnancy has occurred.

This ruling was stunningly ham-fisted on so many levels. In a nutshell, in “going narrow” SCOTUS picked a religion — the fundiegelical Christian kind — over the rights of female employees who may not be of that religion, and also over the rights of every other religion out there. This is going to have repercussions, people — and not good ones for the religious folks. It’s gonna get messy, and I think it’s gonna smack religious people on the ass so hard they won’t sit for a month. Stories like this one are going to ripple across the workplace in every state. It’s a ruling that basically legalized gender discrimination and religious discrimination. When it all shakes down it’s not going to be pretty for the people currently doing a happy dance.

In the meantime, folks calling for a Constitutional Convention to repeal corporate personhood just got a little more ammo.

[UPDATE]: ThinkProgress agrees with me.

[UPDATE] 2: Charlie Pierce at Esquire also agrees with me. SCOTUS just perpetrated an act of religious discrimination while professing to do the opposite. WTF is up with that, people?

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Filed under birth control, corporations, healthcare, religious fundamentalism, religious right, Supreme Court, women's rights

The Pitfalls Of Identity Politics

[UPDATE]:

What was I just saying about wingnuts and the health food movement?

——————————————

DSCN4472

Eden Foods, you are dead to me.

I’ve come to learn that an inordinate number of people involved in the organic foods/natural medicine/holistic health movement are wingnuts. It seems counterintuitive, one would expect these folks to be hippie-dippy peace freaks. But actually a lot of these folks were nurtured in the anti-government, anti-establishment “homesteader” movement of the ’70s, which was a breeding ground for Libertarians. And a lot of them also come out of the survivalist freak show on the far right, as well.

Such are the pitfalls of identity politics. Just because some company markets itself as embracing such progressive ideals as,

Organic agriculture is society’s brightest hope for positive change

doesn’t mean they don’t also believe such crackpottery as,

[birth control] almost always involve immoral and unnatural practices

and

Plan B and ‘ella’ can cause the death of the embryo, which is a person

… which we all know is utter bullshit. Such is the progressive dilemma: I appreciate CEO and founder Michael Potter’s activism against GMOs, but I find his crackpot views regarding birth control abhorrent. And there are plenty of other organic food companies which don’t hold these bizarre views about birth control, so thanks but no thanks. I’ll take my business elsewhere.

Asshole.

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Filed under birth control, health insurance, healthcare

The Latest Crazy Wingnut Theory About Lady Parts

Jesus, but what is it with wingnuts and their crackpot scientific theories totally bizarre-o world ideas about how women’s bodies work? I just saw this item (h/t to Wonkette) and I want to scream.

Without further ado:

Women are worse off with contraception because it suppresses and disables who they are, Pedulla said.

“Part of their identity is the potential to be a mother,” Pedulla said. “They are being asked to suppress and radically contradict part of their own identity, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they are being asked to poison their bodies.”

Studies show that women using contraceptives consider pregnancy more unwanted than wanted, he said.

Ummm … DUH!!! That’s the point of being on contraception, you idiot!!!

“Studies show”? Really, you needed a study for that? And this is how you conclude that motherhood is “a natural part of women’s identities?” Seriously? You can just stuff that crap where the sun don’t shine, genius.

This brilliance all came from one Dr. Dominic Pedulla, who requested legislation in Oklahoma banning the Obamacare contraception mandate. The damn thing probably isn’t even legal but he found a like-minded nimrod named Senator Clark Jolley to write one up. This being Oklahoma, of course, it passed the committee and will go to the full state Senate.

Pedulla is supposedly a cardiologist but I looked him up and he actually works at one of those varicose vein centers where rich ladies go to get their legs restored to youthful beauty. He also started something called the Edith Stein Foundation, because he apparently cares about women’s dignity, but actually he just really really really hates birth control. From the Edith Stein Foundation website:

In 1968, an Italian scholar predicted that if contraception were to become a cultural norm, four things would result: a general lowering of moral standards, an increase in promiscuousness and infidelity, a rise in the disrespect men have for women, and the coercive use of reproductive technologies by governments. Strikingly, in the more than forty years since that portentous prognosis, all four of these have been realized. Social science not only shows it, but is showing the connection between a contraceptive culture and the social maladies of our day.

What’s more, medical research has shown and is continuing to show the far reaching ill effects of all methods of contraception. Not many people have heard about the 1968 predictions, and the growing body of evidence against contraceptives. For the dignity and health of women, this has got to stop. This is where the Edith Stein Foundation comes in to educate, advocate, research, connect, and heal.

So in short, contraception is evil. We get it. He doesn’t mention who this “Italian scholar” is, but I’d bet anything he’s talking about Pope Paul VI, who issued an encyclical against birth control in 1968.

I love the Edith Stein Foundation’s “Mission Statement”:

To advocate the dignity of women through fostering a non-contraceptive culture.

Sure, ’cause nothing says “dignity” like some man telling me what’s good for me.

Fuck you, “Dr.” Pedulla. I don’t need you to tell me what my identity is. I’ve got a pretty good handle on that with no help from you. What absolute gall you have to try to wrap your antiquated, oppressive views about women in some kind of feminist package. We aren’t that stupid.

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Filed under birth control, feminism, women's rights

Guess Who Went To The Doctor Today

Last week I went to the dentist. Today I went to my ob/gyn for my annual.

These days, any trip to the doctor is an infuriating, exasperating traipse through our screwed up healthcare system. And I’m a really healthy person, with really good insurance. Still, red tape and insurance bullshit manages to piss me off every damn time.

I had already decided I was going to ask my doctor about the mandatory pre-abortion ultrasound bills currently making their way through the legislature, in particular, the deafening silence from the medical community and ob/gyn’s in general on this and other issues affecting women’s healthcare. But dang, before I could even get to that we got in a debate about socialized medicine.

It started when she told me she wouldn’t perform the ol’ “blood in the stool” test, aka the FOBT, which I’ve had done routinely for 30 something years. This was because, she said, “BlueCross Blue Shield of Tennessee no longer covers it.” Lovely. I repeat: not because I didn’t need it, but because insurance wouldn’t cover it. And that, she said, was because over the past few years insurance has routinely been paying for fewer and fewer things.

This test is an easy, cheap way to detect colorectal cancer. But hey, I’m over 50 now, it’s not like colon cancer is a concern for us olds, right?

Don’t answer that.

It doesn’t matter because she said I need to think about getting a colonoscopy at some point, since I’m an olds, and of course it’s a better diagnostic test. Now, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee only pays for one every 10 years if the first one comes back clean. So let’s hope I don’t develop anything in the decade in between tests because apparently I’d have no fucking way of knowing about it.

Okie dokie, let’s hope what I don’t know won’t kill me! Thank you, BlueCross BlueShield of Tennessee! May you all get colorectal cancer and die an excruciating, miserable death.

Yes, Republicans. Do tell me more about bureaucrats coming between me and my doctor. I’m dying to hear.

So then we both commiserated about how awful insurance was. I asked her which insurance company was the best in terms of coverage, since she dealt with so many. She said none of them, they’re all bad. Okay, I said, fine, then why don’t we ditch them all and go to socialized medicine?

“Oh, no! That’s worse,” she said. In England, she said, whether you have a hangnail or cancer, you’re put into the system at the same place. In other words, serious health issues aren’t given any more priority than minor ones. She heard this from a patient who lived in London for two years. Her patient, however, was considered a “guest of the country” and was put to the top of the list, she explained. (I’m a little unclear how the patient would know, plus if that were true, wouldn’t there be astronomical cancer fatality rates there? Which doesn’t seem to be happening.)

“That’s certainly not what my Canadian friends have told me,” I said. “I don’t know about England, but they told me in Canada if something’s seriously wrong, you’re priority. It’s true you might have to wait longer for routine stuff, but heck, I made this appointment a year ago!” It’s true, I had.

“Oh no,” my doctor responded, wagging her finger at me. “I know someone who lives in Vancouver and when she needed something done she went to Seattle.”

Clearly we weren’t getting anywhere, trading our stories about “people we knew.” What I did say was, what do we do? This can’t be the best there is. What we’re doing now isn’t working, too many people are uninsured, and the poor are suffering the most.

“Oh, the poor have TennCare,” she said.

And so it went. Clearly my doctor didn’t know the first thing about people who weren’t her patients. She worked at a nice office in the heart of Nashville’s central healthcare campus, not the Vine Hill or Downtown clinics. Her clients weren’t the uninsured or marginalized. Nor did she know anything about what was happening in the state legislature. I asked her if she was aware that there were bills in the legislature requiring women to get an ultrasound before receiving an abortion.

“Really?!” She seemed genuinely surprised. Jesus, lady! I wanted to scream. You’re a gynecologist! This is your field! Don’t you pay attention to what legislators are doing affecting your own business?

I asked if there was any medical reason why this procedure would be necessary. “They need to do it,” she said, “to determine the age of the fetus.”

“But what if a woman is positive that it’s within the first trimester?”

“They still need to do it, to make sure.”

“To make sure?”

“To make sure she’s telling the truth.”

Wow. So we have this law to mandate a diagnostic procedure because women are liars. Got that, ladies? The government thinks you’re all liars, just like with all of that “legitimate rape” stuff, and so they need to check up on you with a diagnostic tool whose sole function is to make sure you’re telling the truth.

Yes, Republicans. Do tell me more about your belief in “small government.” I’m dying to hear.

Keep in mind, I was just told I wouldn’t get a routine colon cancer diagnostic because my insurance won’t pay for it.

Like an idiot, I asked my doctor if she performed abortions. She told me no.

“Does anyone here perform them?”

“No.”

“So where does someone go if they need one? Someone with insurance, who can afford it, where do you refer them?”

“Planned Parenthood, I guess,” my doctor answered. “Or Atlanta.”

Keep in mind, Nashville is a healthcare city. Healthcare is one of the largest industries here. We have several major hospitals here. The Nashville Chamber of Commerce proudly touts how healthcare contributes $30 billion to the local economy and creates over 210,000 jobs. But that’s all bullshit. None of that matters if you’re a woman who needs an abortion. For that, you go to Atlanta.

I asked why, although I already knew the answer. But I wanted to hear her say it. And she did. It’s just too controversial, she said. “It’s the religious people, they don’t want it,” she said. Insurance won’t pay for it. Hospitals don’t want to have anything to do with it. And finally she said, “doctors have been killed.”

I’m sure “the religious people” will be thrilled to learn they have successfully intimidated doctors in Nashville into not performing abortions. What’s sad is that Nashville is touted as being a progressive city, a patch of blue surrounded by a sea of red. But we’re still a city where women are second-class citizens because our healthcare needs aren’t treated equally.

It’s not just abortion. My doctor told me that as of January 2009, she can’t perform tubal ligations at Baptist Hospital. Baptist is one of the major hospitals here in Nashville and in 2002 Baptist merged with St. Thomas, another major player, so both are now under the Ascension Health umbrella, which is a Catholic non-profit. I had read that because religious hospitals all receive federal funds, they had to offer some kind of “secular floor,” where stuff the Catholics find religiously offensive can be done.

“It was a room, not a floor,” my doctor told me. “A separate room.” And the nurse technician that would assist her had to clock out, clock in again for the hour of surgery, and clock back out again, so she could be paid out of separate, non-religious funds. But as of January 2009, that room is no longer there. Someone who is not a Catholic will nonetheless have their medical choices made by the Catholic church.

Yes, Republicans. Do tell me more about your belief in “religious freedom.” I’m dying to hear.

This is all just so crazy to me. I didn’t intend to write a novel, but we just covered so much ground. What I wanted to know is why the medical profession hasn’t spoken up as the state house and senate legislate their profession. I mean, good lord, every time something happens in Washington we have a flurry of industry associations and phony astroturf groups telling us why it’s a bad idea. Where’s the TN Medical Assn.? Besides offering “doctor of the day” volunteers and lobbying for tort reform, I mean. It seems they haven’t spoken up because the just don’t know or don’t care.

I asked my doctor why people in her profession didn’t speak out. And she said it’s because nothing was ever going to change. That was just it, it’s too big, too hard, too controversial. It’s not going to change. I was so outraged. I just refuse to believe nothing will ever change. I said, what if people said that back in the days of Jim Crow? We’d still have black hospitals and white hospitals. Yes, she said. You’re right. And that was that.

It was the most disheartening conversation I’ve ever had. Apparently the doctors just can’t be bothered. I mean, I don’t know what else to say and I’m way beyond needing to wrap this up. But I guess I had somehow thought that doctors cared about their patients’ healthcare. Silly me.

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Filed under abortion, birth control, Blue Cross, health insurance, healthcare, Nashville, women's rights

Because It’s Not About Birth Control

Okay, who didn’t see this one coming a mile off?

Bishops Reject Birth Control Compromise
By ROBERT PEAR
Published: February 7, 2013

WASHINGTON — The nation’s Roman Catholic bishops on Thursday rejected the latest White House proposal on health insurance coverage of contraceptives, saying it did not offer enough safeguards for religious hospitals, colleges and charities that objected to providing such coverage for their employees.

The administration said the proposal, issued last Friday, would guarantee free employee coverage of birth control “while respecting religious concerns” of organizations that objected to paying or providing for it.

[...]

Under the latest proposal, churches and nonprofit religious groups that object to providing birth control coverage on religious grounds would not have to pay for it. Women who work for such organizations could get free contraceptive coverage through separate individual health insurance policies. The institution objecting to the coverage would not pay for the contraceptives. Costs would be paid by an insurance company, with the possibility that it could recoup the costs through lower health care expenses resulting in part from fewer births.

How does this “not offer enough safeguards” to address religious groups’ objections? Simple: women can still get their hands on some birth control, that’s how! They want a law that gives employers control over women’s health choices. Hell, they’ve already done it.

Look, can we stop trying to appease people who will never, ever be appeased? This is not about birth control! Half the institutions fighting this were already offering their employees contraception coverage and only stopped when it became news.

This is about the failure of the church. This is about the church’s great shame at being completely impotent in the face of cultural change. This is, specifically, about the Catholic church preaching against contraception for years and years and years and nobody paying attention — hell, even Catholic priests and nuns have ignored that piece of church doctrine. The church hierarchy wants the U.S. government to do what they’ve been unable to do, which is to get people to stop using birth control by making it too expensive and too hard to obtain.

That ain’t happening.

Stop paying attention to these idiots. Catholics don’t even pay attention to them. And if the Catholic church wants to spend its money fighting a legal battle it lost long, long ago instead of using that money to care for the poor and marginalized, then that tells you everything you need to know about the Catholic church. They’re a bunch of phonies.

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Filed under birth control, health insurance, healthcare, religion, reproductive rights

Hands Off My Clam

I’d be a bad Nashvillian if I didn’t link to this:

(h/t, Juanita Jean)

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Filed under abortion, birth control, feminism

A Riddle Wrapped In Hypocrisy Buried In Stupidity

I meant to blog about this last week and forgot:

When Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced a $50,000 yearly fundraiser at the Star Island home of pharmaceutical kingpin Phil Frost, it didn’t take long for the liberal Think Progress website to note the glaring irony: Frost’s company makes the very type of contraception that Romney falsely bashed as an “abortive” pill.

The Concerned Women of America are very concerned. The president of CatholicVote.org is giving Romney a cautionary pass:

The DC did note, however, that Brian Burch, President of CatholicVote.org, said he understood that Romney would take money from those with whom he doesn’t entirely agree: “What matters is whether a President Romney will end all taxpayer support for abortion-inducing drugs, repeal unconstitutional mandates that force private institutions to cover such drugs, and whether he will make progress in building a culture of life. We are confident that Mitt Romney is committed to these goals.”

Yeah, yeah, yeah. Sure, keep telling yourself that, buddy.

Here’s what I don’t get. I get Romney attending fundraisers from people like this, he’s going to take money from anyone. I get that conservatives will make excuses for him. What I do not get is why someone like Phil Frost would be holding a damn fundraiser for the very candidate and the very political party throwing up roadblocks right and left to the sale of his company’s product.

What. The. Fuck?

Phil Frost is chairman of the board of Teva Pharmaceuticals. Teva makes Plan B, which conservative keep trying to pretend is an “abortion pill” and which Republicans keep trying to prevent women from using with their “conscience clauses” and crap like what the state of Alabama is trying to pass: a bill forcing women to jump through so many medically unnecessary hoops as to render the concept of emergency contraception null and void.

So why the hell are people like Phil Frost supporting Republicans who hate their product and keep spreading misinformation about what it is and what it does? Why would you do that? Why would your political activism be diametrically opposed to your business interests?

And why hasn’t anyone at Teva called him on that? The CEO? Other members of the board? Anyone?

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Filed under 2012 presidential election, birth control, women's rights

Spread Your Legs & Let The Government In

I tried to post this last night but WordPress is finicky where video embeds are concerned and for some reason it messed up my homepage. Guess you’ll just have to go to the link.

This video is hilarious! It premiered on Bill Maher last night.

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Filed under abortion, birth control, women's rights

Real Or Not Real?

RNC Chair Reince Priebus took to the airwaves to claim that the Republican War On Women is just all in our silly little heads. Really!

Republican opposition to renewing the Violence Against Women Act? Scott Walker repealing Wisconsin’s Equal Pay Enforcement Act? The attacks on women’s reproductive rights in every state — the ones making a legal requirement that women submit to shaming, dehumanizing, psychologically stressful and medically unnecessary procedures in order to obtain a legal, safe abortion? Or restricting women’s access to contraception? The shuttering of health clinics that serve poor women around the country?

The Blunt-Rubio Amendment? Personhood bills? Bills equating single parenthood with child abuse? House Republican efforts to redefine rape?

Ladies, these things should not be taken as attacks on your freedoms or rights or privacy (or even your intelligence, abilities or value). No, these are just logical, necessary pieces of legislation that the penis-Americans in charge deem absolutely vital to the nation’s interests. Any personal offense women may take at being legislated this way is simply unreasonable, maybe even hysterical. Now, run along and swap recipes at the Tupperware Party or however it is you spend your time while the penis-Americans do the heavy lifting of keeping shit running in the world.

/hurl

But to hear Republicans talk there is a very real war going, and it’s the war on Christians. Yes, little known fact: in state legislatures all around the country, the faithful are being oppressed by anti-Christian politicians passing laws limiting their ability to practice their faith! And even the President of the United States has passed draconian legislation forcing Christians underground. Why, you can’t hardly find a church or a Bible study or even a prayer group anymore!

I have absolutely no evidence of this, of course, but that’s what right-wingers keep telling us. And by right-wingers I don’t just mean fringe crackpots over at ClownHall, I mean people like Rep. Marsha Blackburn who hosted a “rally for religious freedom” in Nashville last month (actually, it was just another highly-orchestrated rally against women’s healthcare but pay no attention to that! This war is real and that one is not!)

No, actually, there is a war on Christianity in this country. I know this because last month an Assemblies of God youth group in Pennsylvania was kidnapped and held at gunpoint. This really happened, however the folks who orchestrated this attack were the church’s pastor and some parents, trying to teach kids age 13-18 a lesson about religious persecution.

Y’know, Jesus did say “suffer the little children.” How ironic that this would come from the sadistic pricks leading the church.

There is a war on Christianity going on, but it’s coming from inside the church, not outside. For example, I just read that the Catholic Church has cut off funds to a group helping the poor because it’s a member of an immigrants’ rights coalition, and that coalition had worked with a GLBT rights group. Got that? The organization receiving the funds didn’t work with this GLBT organization, they were just members of the same coalition. Cooties! Apparently when it comes to fighting poverty or fighting gays, the poor lose out. Fighting gays is way more important. This kind of thinking and attitude will drive the church into cultural irrelevancy faster than any packet of birth control pills or condoms, but hey, don’t listen to me.

So, real or not real, ladies? Who are you gonna listen to: Reince Priebus or your lying eyes?

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Filed under birth control, feminism, religious right, reproductive rights, Republican Party, women's rights