Men to Decide Whether Women Deserve Medicine

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The best thing about living in the time of a pandemic is the fact that most of the usual shit that we had to deal with before is still happening. Sure, school shootings are way down thanks to the fact that no one is in any schools waiting to get shot, but people are still dealing with issues like domestic violence, or lack of access to safe abortions, both of which disproportionately affect women and have actually been made worse by quarantine orders.

Another shitty problem that disproportionately affects women that we’re still dealing with? Roadblocks preventing women from accessing birth control. You know, the thing that reduces the total number of abortions women need?  And you remember how the same people who don’t want women to have access to safe abortions also don’t want women to have access to the birth control that limits the number of abortions? This all was a big deal back when Obama launched the Affordable Care Act, because conservative Christians didn’t want the women working for them to be able to get things like birth control pills. If you’re not aware, birth control pills prevent women from ovulating, and when there is no egg moving into position, it can’t be fertilized. Conservative Christians hate this, because…well, because they hate women. Seriously, that’s the only explanation that makes sense. They will argue that they do NOT hate women, because some of them know women and others ARE women, but there is literally no other reason to oppose this health intervention. Literally no one thinks unfertilized eggs are babies or else menstruating once a month for 40 years would be genocide. The only reason to insist that women must get pregnant and then have a baby after having sex is because you don’t want women to be anything other than brood mares who also cook and clean. There’s no Biblical reason to oppose birth control. Jesus never said that women had to be pregnant every month to reach the Kingdom of Heaven. It’s all nonsense, but because the people who hate birth control also happen to believe in a God, it’s considered a religious belief and we have to have the Supreme Court weigh in on whether or not it’s protected, just like hating gay people so much you don’t want them to marry each other, or female genital mutilation. Oh wait, sorry, not that last one. That’s another “religious” (cultural) belief that is not a majority in this country. But if it was…!

So, yes, the ACA mandated that businesses provide affordable healthcare to everyone but some Christians insisted that it was against their religion to provide affordable healthcare to women, so Obama agreed to let houses of worship and other religious non-profits discriminate against women. Oh, did you forget that Obama kind of sucked in a lot of ways because our current president is like a racist version of one of those dancing tube men in front of gas stations? Yeah, things still weren’t necessarily gangbusters back then for people with uteri.

Anyway, that wasn’t enough for the Christians. They demanded that Christians who owned for-profit businesses, like Hobby Lobby, should also be allowed to prevent their employees from accessing birth control, so they sued and it went to the Supreme Court and the Supreme Court AGREED that corporations can have religious beliefs and that those corporations should be allowed to use those religious beliefs to discriminate against women, because fuck women, am I right? In return, the corporations would just need to file a form, and that form would allow women to get full health coverage via the government.

But that wasn’t enough for the Christians. So in 2016 the Little Sisters of the Poor, who operate housing for low-income seniors, brought a case to the Supreme Court arguing that filing a form also went against their religion. Yes. Really. I was going to make a joke here about how filing my taxes goes against my religion but then I remembered that churches also don’t have to pay taxes. LOL.

Obviously this isn’t about a form — it’s about the all-encompassing need to control women’s bodies in whatever way they can. But the Supreme Court deadlocked and punted the case back to the lower courts, and so now the case has returned like a bad meatball. In the years between, Trump was elected and the Little Sisters joined him when he signed an ordinance that basically said that pretty much any employer can choose to stop their employees from accessing birth control. The Commonwealth of Pennsylvania objected to that and so now the Supreme Court is listening to both cases at the same time.

COVID-19 has been frustrating in part because it’s hard for the general public to see and understand science being done in real time, leaving laypeople confused and trying to read into stats and statements without necessary context. The same is true of this case — thanks to the pandemic, the case is being tried via phone, and the general public can listen in. That is…interesting from a legal nerd standpoint, but frustrating from the standpoint of “my god can we please stop guessing what’s happening in real time?” The justices are now under a microscope, and every question they ask and statement they make is being interpreted through a lens of whether they are going to side with the liberal or conservative view. And dear god is it frustrating. A panel of mostly men, including one who just last year was credibly accused of sexual assault, is going to decide whether women deserve healthcare. Basic healthcare. Healthcare that can keep them from experiencing unintended and potentially dangerous pregnancies, healthcare that regulates their menstrual cycle, healthcare that manages their endometriosis, healthcare that manages their skin problems.

It is inconceivable that we would ever consider allowing anyone to stop cis men from accessing that kind of care, let alone that we would entertain years of Supreme Court cases on the topic. What if a Jehovah’s Witness business owner wanted to prevent his employees from getting insurance coverage for blood transfusions? What if, as Delilah Brown suggested on Twitter, a Jewish business owner wanted to stop employees from getting insurance coverage for porcine heart valve replacements? Or what if a bunch of nuns truly was truly, religiously committed to being anti-sex instead of anti-woman and decided that insurance shouldn’t cover Viagra for their employees?

It simply would not happen, because this is about controlling women’s bodies and that’s been a recreational sport in the United States since its founding. It’s time for the Supreme Court to get a fucking clue and admit that corporations can’t have religions and religious freedom ends where my personal freedom begins.

Rebecca Watson

Rebecca is a writer, speaker, YouTube personality, and unrepentant science nerd. In addition to founding and continuing to run Skepchick, she hosts Quiz-o-Tron, a monthly science-themed quiz show and podcast that pits comedians against nerds. There is an asteroid named in her honor. Twitter @rebeccawatson Mastodon mstdn.social/@rebeccawatson Instagram @actuallyrebeccawatson TikTok @actuallyrebeccawatson YouTube @rebeccawatson BlueSky @rebeccawatson.bsky.social

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