Category Archives: birth control

Religious Freedom Means We All Have To Live As Catholics

A birth control coverage Xavier University provided for its employees for years is suddenly yanked, for inexplicable reasons:

The controversy prompted Xavier President Michael Graham, a Jesuit priest, to review the health insurance plan offered to the university’s 935 employees. Graham announced this week in a letter to the faculty that the plan will cease to cover contraception on July 1.

Some faculty members who relied on the coverage said they were surprised and upset at the sudden end to benefits, which could raise their out-of-pocket costs for contraception by hundreds of dollars a year.

“It hadn’t occurred to me that this would ever be an issue,” said Tina Davlin-Pater, an associate professor in the department of sports studies.

Davlin-Pater, an athletic trainer who is not Catholic, said she viewed the denial of birth control coverage as an indication that “it’s still OK to discriminate against women in today’s world.

Well, not inexplicable reasons. As Atrios observes,

Obviously this is an incredibly principled move based on deeply held religious beliefs that they discovered about 5 weeks ago.

Heh indeedy. Or, to be more precise:

Some on campus said they suspected Graham had come under intense pressure from the diocese, and perhaps from conservative donors as well, to publicly demonstrate Xavier’s fidelity to Catholic doctrine by cancelling the birth-control coverage.

As has been pointed out a thousands times already, what we really have here is the Catholic church using the United States government to enforce a doctrine it has been unable to get its followers to abide by on its own. And we just don’t do that here in America.

Keep it up, Catholics.

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Filed under birth control, culture wars, health insurance, religion, women's rights

Women Are Not An Interest Group

… we are half of this country and yes, we are perfectly capable of making our own healthcare decisions. Thank you, President Obama.

[UPDATE]:

Last night a homemade bomb was detonated at a Planned Parenthood clinic in Grand Chute, WI. Nope, no war on women here.

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Filed under birth control, healthcare, Planned Parenthood, President Barack Obama, women's rights

Too Much Power

I just want to point out one thing in regards to Arizona Bill 2625, the “slut police” bill that allows employers to fire employees for using birth control.

If employers can fire you for using contraception, couldn’t they also fire you for not using it? Seems to me it’s more in an employer’s interest to not have its female employees out on maternity leave and racking up all those pregnancy and baby-birthing expenses, not to mention all of the other issues that crop up when an employee is a mother.

Either way, it’s way too much power for an employer to have. But I just wonder if that argument has been made, and if Arizona Republicans might rethink their support if it were.

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Filed under birth control, culture wars, women's rights

You Can’t Spell “Bullies” Without “Bull” & “Lies”

The attacks on Sandra Fluke have taken a decidedly nasty, personal turn. It was bad enough that Rush Limbaugh would stoop so low as to call her a slut and prostitute and demand she post sex videos on YouTube, all based on his completely made-up thesis that she wants taxpayers to pay for her birth control (she never said anything of the kind).

But now even her boyfriend and his family are being attacked. The pile-on started with Bill O’Reilly, who first revealed the identity of Fluke’s boyfriend, giving the right-wing bloggers their fresh meat. And now we have hacks like Jim “Dim” Hoft, who calls Fluke a “far left activist” and attacks her boyfriend as a “socialist.” (Other hacks refer to the boyfriend as A “socialist Jew.”) Hoft lifted year-old vacation pictures from her Facebook page, the message being, “she wants you to pay for her birth control so she can have hot sexy sex with radical leftists in Yurp. Yer tax dollahs!!!”

Again: this smear is based on Rush’s original lie, because nowhere in Sandra Fluke’s testimony did she ever say that she wanted taxpayers to foot the bill for anyone’s birth control: hers or anyone else’s. But don’t let facts stand in the way of a good smear.

Well, there’s a reason we call Hoft the dumbest man on the internet. Weigel does a good job debunking Hoft’s many lies and misrepresentations, but Right Blogistan is in full bully mode and there just isn’t enough bandwidth in the universe to debunk all of the sludge. Here’s a representative headline from a place called TheGraph, and you’ll just have to Google it because I refuse to give these hate sites any hits:

Or, Google “Sandra Fluke boyfriend” and you’ll see what I mean.

This has been the week in All Things Sandra Fluke Hot Sex Babe, which led up to the smear’s shining moment: CNN’s Dana Loesch, writing on her website that Fluke’s boyfriend should pay for her birth control because,

His father donates heavily to Democrat candidates. The couple is currently enjoying spring break in California, which poses the question of how Fluke can afford a trip across the country when she can’t afford birth control pills.

CNN should be so proud. Again: she repeats the lie that Rush started, but this one has an extra twist with the Democratic donor stuff. It’s gotta be a conspiracy, I tell ya!

This kind of bullying is what we’ve come to expect from the right wing blogosphere. It’s only a matter of time before Michelle Malkin reprises her role as trash-sifter in chief — if she hasn’t done so already. But let’s remember that Bill Maher called Sarah Palin dumb once in a comedy sketch. Both sides do it!

Surely there has to be more to this intimidation campaign. My guess is it’s designed to give any liberal citizen with the temerity to speak out on an issue pause. Speak out and expect the Rush Limbaugh/Fox News/conservative blogosphere to go in full attack mode. Not just you but everyone you associate with will be fair game.

I wouldn’t wish this on anyone but the more they attack based on an utter fabrication of her actual statement, the more ammo Fluke has for a defamation suit. And I really, really hope she sues Rush from here to kingdom come. The more right-wing bloggers make her life intolerable, the bigger her potential case. Especially since every one of these attacks repeat what Gene Weingarten referred to as Rush’s “invented calumny.” Textbook slander, indeed.

One of the most surreal images of the past month was that of the now-deceased Andrew Breitbart, glassy-eyed and repeating “be-HAVE yourself” over and over and over again at Occupy protestors. That, plus an interview in which he revealed deep paranoia about Media Matters and MSNBC, capped by a long, final Twitter stream of insults at strangers, are his last messages to the world.

I can think of no more fitting illustration of the right wing attack machine than this. Unhinged, paranoid, and full of hate, I have to wonder if these aren’t the last gasps of a dying breed, just as they were the last utterances of a dying man. I wonder if, like their standard-bearer Breitbart, they won’t soon be found metaphorically tits-up on a sidewalk, consumed by their own hate.

Sue, Sandra Fluke, sue. Sue and win. So no one else inspired to speak out on an issue they care about ever has to pay the price of character assassination and intimidation. Never again.

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Filed under birth control, conservative bloggers, Rush Limbaugh, women's rights

My How Times Have Changed

From the memory hole, John F. Kennedy on Sept. 12, 1960:

I believe in an America where the separation of church and state is absolute, where no Catholic prelate would tell the president (should he be Catholic) how to act, and no Protestant minister would tell his parishioners for whom to vote; where no church or church school is granted any public funds or political preference; and where no man is denied public office merely because his religion differs from the president who might appoint him or the people who might elect him.

I believe in an America that is officially neither Catholic, Protestant nor Jewish; where no public official either requests or accepts instructions on public policy from the Pope, the National Council of Churches or any other ecclesiastical source; where no religious body seeks to impose its will directly or indirectly upon the general populace or the public acts of its officials; and where religious liberty is so indivisible that an act against one church is treated as an act against all.

[…]

But let me stress again that these are my views. For contrary to common newspaper usage, I am not the Catholic candidate for president. I am the Democratic Party’s candidate for president, who happens also to be a Catholic. I do not speak for my church on public matters, and the church does not speak for me.

Whatever issue may come before me as president — on birth control, divorce, censorship, gambling or any other subject — I will make my decision in accordance with these views, in accordance with what my conscience tells me to be the national interest, and without regard to outside religious pressures or dictates. And no power or threat of punishment could cause me to decide otherwise.

Kennedy gave this speech during the 1960 campaign because conservatives were fearmongering about his Catholic faith. They tried to tell voters that a President Kennedy would answer to the Pope instead of the American people and the United States Congress.

My how times have changed. Now we have a bunch of Catholic bishops trying to tell the president what to do, and a bunch of Republicans foamy-mouthed because he won’t obey them.

Good thing we banned that Sharia Law stuff, amiright? Can’t imagine what our Muslim president would do if something pissed off an ayatolla or two. And I’m sure our Republicans would be totally okay with that, right?

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Filed under birth control, Christian Right, culture wars

There Is No Catholic Controversy

Oh fer crying out loud. I am so sick of this bullshit about the Catholic church and contraceptives and Obama and healthcare and hair-pulling and fainting couches and aaaaaaggggghhhhhh…..!

This whole thing is made up, people! Hello! How come no one is coming out and saying it? Is everyone blind? Or on drugs? Or just … pretending we don’t live in some crazy-cakes media drama where the manufactured fauxtroversy du jour is trotted out because it’s fucking February and nothing interesting is happening? Again: helloooo?!

Look, the Republicans are stuck with a field of dogs, turnout at their primaries sucks and no one gives a shit about these losers. America’s Goofy Other Party is desperate to attack the Obama Administration on something — anything. With the economy improving and Osama bin Laden at the bottom of the ocean, what have they got? Culture wars, of course.

Here’s how I know the whole “Catholics are outraged about contraceptive prescription coverage” thing is a ginned-up fake:

1- The nation’s largest Catholic university, De Paul University, already provides contraceptive coverage in its health insurance plan. No teeth-gnashing or pearl clutching, and so far Jesus hasn’t sailed out of the heavens to smite anyone.

2- Ditto Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Jesuit University of Scranton, and other Catholic-affiliated institutions.

3- I hate quoting polls because we all know they can be manipulated to say whatever the questioner wants them to. That caveat aside, this survey says the majority of Catholics agree that contraceptive coverage should be part of an employer’s insurance plan. On top of that, let’s be honest here: most American Catholics use birth control. Sorry, church leaders can whine about it and complain about it but we all know it’s true. They lost this battle somewhere around 1977 and I’m just not going to get dragged into some church battle that the leadership lost 30 years ago.

4- Megachurch pastor Rick Warren has decided to grandstand on the issue, Tweeting:

And:

You know this shit is fake when people like Rick Warren decide it’s another opportunity for them to grab the spotlight.

Sorry to be the one to call bullshit here, but somebody had to.

I want to send a special message to my Catholic friends out there, too: the Catholic church has a long and wonderful social justice history, centuries of empowering the poor, ending slavery, and standing up for oppressed peoples all around the world. It’s a shame to see all of that thrown away over the leadership’s desire to hold women hostage to their biology. I hope the Catholic faithful will speak up on this. Time to stop the madness.

[UPDATE]:

Gail Collins nails it. Of the Catholic Bishops she writes:

The problem here is that they’re trying to get the government to do their work for them. They’ve lost the war at home, and they’re now demanding help from the outside.

This is exactly right. Catholic institutions like hospitals employ people of all faiths. These employers need to abide by the same rules as everyone else. No one is forcing Catholic employees to use the contraceptive benefit in their insurance plans. What the Catholic bishops are trying to do is get the federal government to enforce the church’s anti-contraception doctrine because they have failed to do so on their own. This isn’t an “assault on religious liberty,” it’s the exact opposite: it’s getting the government to enforce a church rule that no one has followed in decades.

What next, do you want the Dept. of Food & Agriculture to ban all meat sales during Lent?

C’mon, this stuff isn’t hard. We see this for what it is. And I’m just loving John Boehner, Mitch McConnell and the rest of the Republican Party lining up on the wrong side of yet another issue for the sole purpose of lodging partisan attacks against President Obama.

Really, Republicans? Going after birth control is going to be a winning issue for you in 2012? Ya think so? This has FAIL written all over it.

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Filed under 2012 presidential election, birth control, culture wars, rants, religion, religious right

Time For Us Women To Cut You Boys Off

I am so ready to nip shit like this in the bud:

Dr. Hal C. Lawrence III, vice president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, said contraceptives fit any reasonable definition of preventive health care because they averted unintended pregnancies and allowed women to control the timing, number and spacing of births. This, in turn, improves maternal and child health by reducing infant mortality, complications of pregnancy and even birth defects, said Dr. Lawrence, who is in charge of the group’s practice guidelines.

But the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and some conservative groups, including the Family Research Council, say birth control is not a preventive service in the usual sense of the term.

“Pregnancy is not a disease to be prevented, nor is fertility a pathological condition,” said Deirdre A. McQuade, a spokeswoman for the bishops’ Pro-Life Secretariat. “So birth control is not preventive care, and it should not be mandated.”

About one-half of pregnancies in the United States are unintended.

Wow, and right on the heels of the whole “forcible rape” outrage, too. Assholes.

I will never understand why the people screaming the loudest about how awful abortion is are the same people putting up roadblocks to women trying to access birth control. What the hell is wrong with you people?

And don’t even get me started on the whole tortured “pregnancy is not a disease to be prevented” bullshit. Who says “preventive care” applies only to disease?

Last week I got into an argument with someone over abortion coverage in insurance policies. He said he didn’t understand why he should pay more because women are “irresponsible.” Because an unwanted pregnancy is always the woman’s fault! Isn’t that neat how that works? Heads you win, tails we lose.

Look fellas, I’m sorry you lack the plumbing that would enable you to get pregnant, gestate and give birth and all that. I’ve long suspected your inability to create life in the same way we ladies do has been a source of equal amounts fascination and disgust on your parts for thousands of years. Grow the fuck up already.

You know, I can’t imagine what it’s like to have my reproductive organs flying around loose in the breeze where any predator, fungus or hunting accident could come along and snip it all off, making me evolutionarily irrelevant. That’s a hard burden to bear, a not-so-subtle reminder of how biologically dispensable you guys really are. There are always more males out there willing to spread their seed; it’s the female of the species who carries the burden of the species’ survival. We’re the ones who not only bear the young but care for them as well.

This isn’t me talking feminist claptrap, this is basic evolutionary biology: the bird that’s going to get snapped up at the feeder is the bright red highly visible male cardinal, not the drab brown female blessed with a natural protective camouflage. She’s more important in the grand scheme, which is why she’s been given this protection. God I know that chaps y’all’s ass big time.

It’s the battle of the sexes, played out over thousands of years. Men are bigger and stronger and take down a mammoth but for all your bravado it’s we women who keep the species going. And you’re just dying to control that, too.

Well guess what: you can’t. And you won’t. The earliest cave women knew which plants and herbs and tinctures and infusions prevented pregnancy and induced miscarriage. It’s in the archeological record. Women have been doing this for thousands of years. Do you seriously think you can stop what women have been doing forever? You won’t outlaw abortion, you’ll just drive women to desperate, unsafe, archaic means of doing what they’ve always done. And keeping women from accessing birth control is only making more unwanted pregnancies, not fewer of them.

I repeat: We’re the ones who not only bear the young but care for them as well. We know what’s best for us. And we will act accordingly.

I’m thinking this battle needs another ancient solution. A little nationwide Lysistrata action, perhaps. I’m tired of being dicked around by you assholes. Really, I am. And while plenty of men out there are believers in women’s reproductive choice and women’s access to birth control, I’m thinking maybe some of you guys just aren’t fighting hard enough on our behalf.

I think it’s time to cut you off until you guys recognize that we women will not be pushed around, that “small government” does not mean government small enough to fit inside my womb, that women can be trusted to make the right decisions for the human race because dammit that’s what we’ve been doing for thousands of years anyway.

[UPDATE]:

Oh for God’s sake. This was totally the wrong day for me to learn we have a state breastfeeding law. Words fail me.

Jesus get over your squeamishness, people. What is the deal?

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Filed under abortion, birth control, evolution, feminism, rants, women's rights

>Concerned Women Concerned About Stupid Things

>Today’s New York Times has a story about a new emergency contraceptive called ella, which has the morality scolds at the Concerned Women of America very, well, concerned.

Why? Since doctors are still debating exactly how the pill works (it appears to prevent ovulation by blocking progesterone, thus preventing conception. And there goes the pro-lifers’ “this pill is exactly the same as murdering babies!” argument), they’ve come up with a unique new reason to be concerned:

Ms. Wright warned that men might slip ella to unsuspecting women, and she said testing so far was not adequate to establish whether it was safe.

Hmm. Thinking back to when I was single and looking for love in all the wrong places, I have to say the fear that men might slip an emergency contraceptive into my cocktail was the least of my worries. As for the safety issue, that is not an issue on which the Concerned Women have any credibility, seeing as how they have a history of touting phony studies falsely linking abortion to breast cancer, teen sex to depression, gays to all manner of social ills, etc. etc. Not to mention the whole “evolution is a liberal plot to kill Jesus” thing.

Thanks for your Concern. Duly noted.

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Filed under abortion, birth control, concerned women of america

>Swampland: Late To The Party

>Over at Time’s Swampland blog, Amy Sullivan finally gets around to telling people to “chill out” over the family planning provisions of the stimulus bill.

She writes:

Republicans: The provision would have allowed states to cover family planning services–but not abortion–that they already cover for low-income women who don’t otherwise qualify for Medicaid, just without first requiring states to obtain a waiver from the federal government. That’s it. It wouldn’t have permitted new services to be included under “family planning.” It wouldn’t have required states to cover anything or anyone that they didn’t want to. It just would have allowed them to do what they’re already doing without first going through the red tape of obtaining a waiver.

Gee, thanks Amy. Glad to finally see that posted somewhere other than a lefty blog. Even if you only got around to doing it at 4 pm Thursday.

When the vote was yesterday.

Seems to me this would have been good information to have on the Time blog a few days ago. Like, maybe, Monday? You know, when the Republicans were getting the vapors and the Democrats were afraid that the Republicans wouldn’t support the bill with that icky female plumbing stuff in it. So they caved, like always, and took it out.

And then the House voted on the bill and no Republicans supported it anyway. Yesterday.

What took you so long?

Sullivan writes:

In the end, this week’s fight came down to symbolism. Republicans thought they could paint the stimulus bill as a gift to “the abortion industry” when in fact the provision changes virtually nothing about current law.

Yeah, some of us were talking about that on Monday.

This is the kind of stuff that makes me nuts when Old Media tries to do New Media. They still don’t get it. The damage has been done, the discussion has been closed. Pointing out Republican hypocrisy and Democratic ineptitude now comes a little too late to be useful.

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Filed under Amy Sullivan, birth control, Swampland

>Culture Wars & Birth Control

>They say insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. All I can think is that the entire Republican Party has gone insane because once again we’re seeing the same failed “culture war” argument of the past election repeated, as Republicans flail around trying to attack a popular Democratic president.

Yesterday on MSNBC Pat Buchanan said that in church on Sunday morning, his pastor spoke about the “new culture war.”

“Democrats want to use taxpayer money to fund overseas abortions,” he said.

Well, that’s a grossly inaccurate way of describing what’s really happening, which is lifting the global gag rule, a policy loved by Republicans and reviled by women’s rights groups.

Now Republicans are spreading the lie that the stimulus will spend hundreds of millions on contraceptives. I wrote about this yesterday, noting that the program Pelosi wants to expand was created by a Republican president and supported by Republican governors. But when you don’t have any policy ideas of your own, flogging the culture wars are a sure-fire way to fool the media.

Personally, I don’t have a problem with the government spending millions on contraceptives for low income women. If you don’t like abortion, then the best way to stop that is to prevent unwanted pregnancies.

But what this proposal really does is simply expand the number of states eligible to use Medicaid funds for birth control services for low income women.

And for some reason conservatives still think women’s access to birth control is controversial or unpopular.

Folks, 62,000 jobs were lost yesterday. You really want to argue over women’s access to birth control? I’d say working women feel like they need birth control now more than ever.

Of course, the AP is reporting that Obama is considering dumping the proposal.

Big mistake. HUGE mistake. Women should not be thrown under the bus. I’ve already written the White House (and you can do so here, or call (202) 456-1111).

Birth control is not controversial. It’s needed, especially in times of economic distress. Bowing to the idiot conservatives who think they have pushed the right culture war button is the wrong thing to do. And I think it’s wholly unnecessary.

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Filed under birth control, economic stimulus