Birth Control, and Why I'm Proud of Americans Right Now

Three recent news stories. You’ve probably already heard about them ad nauseum, so I’ll just recap them quickly so I can get to my point.

Story One: Susan G. Komen for the Cure, a foundation organized to fight breast cancer, recently pulled funding from Planned Parenthood, one of the major providers of breast cancer screenings for women around the country. A massive public outcry ensued — and Susan G. Komen apologized and reversed its decision, and the official generally seen as responsible for the decision resigned, all as a direct result of the fiasco.

Story Two: The Blunt Amendment, a law that would have permitted employers to refuse to fund health insurance coverage for birth control or any other medical service they had religious or moral objections to, began to wind through Congress. A massive public outcry ensued — and the amendment was voted down in the Senate.

Story Three: Rush Limbaugh spent three days spewing vitriol at a young woman, Sandra Fluke, who had testified before Congress in opposition to the Blunt Amendment, calling her (among many other things) a “slut” and a “prostitute” for supporting employer-paid birth control, and saying that she should have to post public sex videos if she wanted her birth control paid for by government funding. (Which she didn’t say, but never mind.) A massive public outcry ensued — and advertisers are pulling out of his program in droves, with some affiliates pulling his program altogether.

There’s a common theme to all these stories. And it’s making me very proud of my fellow countrypeople.

The theme: Americans are creating massive public outcries in favor of birth control.

Translation: Americans are creating massive public outcries in favor of sex for pleasure, sex for reasons other than procreation, sex for sex’s own sake. Americans are willing to stand up and acknowledge that they have sex because it feels good — and they are creating massive public outcries when people try to interfere with that, or try to shame them about it.

I don’t think that would have been the case twenty years ago. Maybe not even ten years ago. But now, today, in 2012, Americans are willing, and proud, and passionately eager, to say out loud, “I use birth control. I have sex for pleasure. I don’t want to have children right now, I may never want to have children — and I still plan to have sex. And that is a good thing.” They’re willing and proud and eager to say, “Organizations that provide birth control, among their other health care services, are good organizations, and they don’t deserve to get defunded just because some people think sex should just be for making babies.” They’re willing and proud and eager to say, “Birth control is a basic part of most adults’ health care, and any employer who offers health insurance as part of a compensation package bloody well needs to cover it.” They’re willing and proud and eager to say, “Birth control is a basic part of most adults’ lives, and anyone who venomously slut-shames women for supporting it is grossly out of touch, not to mention evil and repulsive, and does not deserve to be part of the serious public discourse.”

This tickles me for a couple of reasons. Partly it tickles me to see how laughably out of touch the Republican Party is with the mainstream of American thought. The Republican Party has been trying to run this year on a morality campaign (possibly to shore up their base, possibly because the economy is getting better and they don’t have anything else to run on). But the horses they’ve decided to flog — birth control and gay rights — just don’t run like they used to. Most Americans are pretty okay with gay people: more than half now support same-sex marriage. And most Americans are pretty okay with birth control. More than okay. They’re actively positive about it. They’re entirely comfortable with it. They see birth control as a normal, healthy part of an adult life. And they’re willing to say so.

And that, just in itself, makes me happy.

I’ve been watching some of the news around the Rush Limbaugh disaster, and there’s an interesting trend I’m seeing. Older people, people in their fifties and sixties, are seriously pissed off about it. The woman Limbaugh was lambasting is their daughters’ age. And they are not okay with their daughters getting slut-shamed for using birth control and for supporting it.

And it occurred to me: This is the birth control generation. This is the generation that came into adulthood in the sixties and seventies, when birth control was starting to become normalized. This is the generation — and I don’t know why this should surprise me, I’m fifty, it’s my generation too — that sees birth control, not as a sign of uncontrolled wantonness, but as a sign of responsibility, and of making smart choices about sexuality and parenthood. And they raised their kids with that attitude. And those kids are now adults.

And when Rush Limbaugh, and Susan G. Komen, and Congress, all tried to get in the way of birth control, Americans of all ages refused to let it happen. They refused to be shamed into pretending that they don’t have the sex lives they actually do. They stood up. They stood up on Facebook and Twitter, in emails and phone calls and letters to the editor, and they said out loud, “Yes, we use birth control. We decide for ourselves when and if to have babies — and we have sex regardless, for its own sweet sake. And you will not shame us into pretending that we don’t.”

I’m proud of a lot of people right now. I’m proud of feminists who have been pushing this issue for decades, back before it was so popular. I’m proud of sex-positive activists who have been working for decades to shift the sexual culture away from one of reflexive guilt and shame, and towards one with more honesty and with ethics based on actual ethics.

But right now, I’m also proud of ordinary Americans, who have been going on an unabashed rampage in support of sex that doesn’t result in babies. This is a new development in our electoral and cultural politics, and I’m intensely proud to see it happen.

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Birth Control, and Why I'm Proud of Americans Right Now
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66 thoughts on “Birth Control, and Why I'm Proud of Americans Right Now

  1. 1

    Lovely post and a very cool take on the issue. The one thing I really don’t get is who really is so offended by birth control. The main folks up in arms about it seem to be Catholic men, mostly the ones who wear collars. The church may officially be morally opposed to birth control, but its members appear to embrace birth control with alacrity. Who, then, is the church. The clergy aren’t paying money into the church to fund anything… those funds come from the laity. And if the laity are using non-church-approved birth control at rates > 90% at some point in their reproductive lives, then how on earth can we say that the church stands against it. I truly agree with you, Greta, that they are running on this because they’ve got nothing else to run on. (by the way, I have to say you really don’t hear much about abstinence-only birth control for married church-goers)

  2. 2

    And, expanding on Randal’s point, it’s fun watching these Catholic clergymen enthusiastically signing on to the Republican talking point that “we just don’t want to pay for your contraception with our tax dollars.” Umm, what tax dollars would that be, Monsignor? Your organization doesn’t pay any taxes.

    (And ok, I admit it, I stole that point from Jon Stewart, but it’s still a good one.)

  3. 4

    I’m one of those people who is massively pissed off at the right wing religious insanity behind this systematic assault on women. I’m 61 and the father of a 23 year old woman. Somehow I had imagined that we Americans had learned about how to treat one another decades ago when I was that age. Now, to have to see this misogyny playing out in our mainstream political life has pushed me over the edge. It is making me a bit crazy and less than respectful when I run into (pardon me) idiots who can’t see what is obvious. I will not apologize for “my gender” because I’m offended by it, too. These (mostly) guys are not thinking clearly. The rest of us need to be loud and clear on the subject. Maybe it will eventually sink in. Misogyny is like racism. Completely. And. Utterly. Unacceptable.

  4. 5

    Usually, progressive positions are nuanced and complicated. No matter how fiercely I support a woman’s right to control her body, it’s hard to come up with a pithy bumper sticker slogan to compete with “abortion kills babies.”

    It’s super fun to be on easy-to-articulate side of a social issue for once!

  5. 6

    I would be more careful about your optimism.

    The Blunt amendment didn’t pass but three Dino voted for it, and so did the female GOP members.
    It could be brought up again after the election if the GOP wins a majority.

    The Komen foundation is just going to allow applications for funding, not funding PP. The bulk of the board members are still there which gives me the impression that more of this could happen as soon as things get more quiet.

    Lastly, Rush. Until Clear Channel and all his sponsors leave him, he will continue to spout more junk. He has been doing this for years and will continue. Things haven’t changed much, if at all, as this problem seems to be just a bump in the road so far.

    Good luck tho.

  6. 7

    Yea, it’s an interesting feeling to be winning a values argument for once. Seeing the huge increase in young women at Planned Parenthood events and the amazing online activism on these positions gives me hope that we’re finally turning a corner on social issues.

  7. 8

    bob knoska @ #6: You’re missing the point. I didn’t say I was proud because we had won these fights forever and could now relax and stop fighting them. I said I was proud because Americans have shown themselves willing to fight these fights — and in the service of these fights, have shown themselves willing to state publicly and without shame that they use and support birth control. They have shown themselves willing to stand up and be counted as participating in sex for pleasure, and are refusing to be shamed for it. That’s something to be proud of, even if we had lost every single one of these fights.

  8. 9

    It’s incredibly nice to see posts like this every now and then. We certainly haven’t won these fights, but we are at least fighting- and it’s refreshing to see these victories, however small. It’s also refreshing to see Limbaugh’s ass handed to him on a platter, because I have a special hatred for him.

    On birth control specifically, I’m glad to see that it’s not just seen as for ‘sluts and prostitutes’ anymore. I NEED birth control if I don’t want to have to take one week out of every month to go on a big bloody rollercoaster through hell, during which I can barely do anything. I can’t exactly dedicate that much time to being screwed over by my body and expect to still be a productive person. The idea that people think there’s a problem with that tells me that those people either don’t understand what birth control does, or they would prefer I menstruate in an isolated hut every month and stop trying to get my girl cooties everywhere. Maybe both.

    So yeah, these small victories for birth control are fantastic news.

  9. 10

    Also, bob knoska #6, Lisa Murkowski just said she regretted her vote for Blunt and wouldn’t vote for it again since going back and catching hell from her female constituents. I keep making jokes about Lysistratadol becoming the new favorite contraceptive for the GOP, and I mean that extremely tongue in cheek, but I think the GOP have gone too far with this one, and I think they’re actually going to start getting an earful from constituents. Times are hard right now, and when they make it easier for insurers to deny coverage to something most people in this country use, they’re not just intruding into their bedrooms, they’re also hitting constituents in their wallets.

  10. KG
    11

    What an encouraging post! The forces of reactionary politics and religion are still alarmingly strong in the US, but there have been other signs of a new willingness to stand up and speak out against them – such as the resistance to attacks on unions and public sector workers, and the Occupy protests. Conversely, the Republicans in general and the religious right in particular, have completely failed to find either a credible candidate or a coherent political narrative – as Greta says, ranting about contraception and gay marriage lacks public appeal (and particularly when people are worried about losing their jobs or homes). Maybe the political initiative has passed to the left in American politics?

  11. 12

    KG @ # 11: Maybe the political initiative has passed to the left in American politics?

    The initiative, having been fumbled by the right, now rolls around randomly on the US field. Any attempts to pick it up from the left side get blocked by the Democratic Party, playing its customary role with skill and thoroughness.

  12. 13

    Yes it’s good that these battles have been won and as Greta says have been opposed whatever the outcome. Though you are proud of America right now, WTF. The fact you are even having these battles is nothing to be proud of, it’s the 21st century and your country needs to seriously grown up.

  13. KG
    14

    The initiative, having been fumbled by the right, now rolls around randomly on the US field. Any attempts to pick it up from the left side get blocked by the Democratic Party, playing its customary role with skill and thoroughness. – Pierce R. Butler

    I get the feeling the (real) left could miss a chance to seize it this year, having got so used to defeat or at best damage-limitation over the past three decades. For example, on the elections, are there no opportunities for grassroots initiatives to target particularly vile Rethug Congressional candidates? Or to get progressives adopted as Democratic candidates? To run credible third party candidates? From what I understand, no-one can stop you running in a party primary. Even a handful of worthwhile members of Congress could make quite a difference in conjunction with vigorous campaigns of demonstrations, strikes andor boycotts against corporate and clerical* power.

    *I know many of those in the religious right are not clerics in the literal sense, but even those who are not, derive their authority over their followers from religious ideologies.

  14. 15

    Greta, great sentiment – I too am happy for winning some skirmishes. How about some billboards and bumper stickers:

    “Birth Control is Behaving Responsibly”

    “Birth Control Reduces Abortions”

    “Reduce Abortions, Support Planned Parenthood”

  15. 16

    KG @ # 14: … are there no opportunities for grassroots initiatives to target particularly vile Rethug Congressional candidates?

    To target them, sure; to score a palpable hit, not so much.

    Or to get progressives adopted as Democratic candidates?

    Some attempts are underway to push lefties within the Democratic fold, but history so far indicates the congressional Progressive Caucus either collaborates with or is ignored by the party as a whole far more often than it produces actual change.

    … no-one can stop you running in a party primary.

    Not unless you define “absence of money” as some-one. Even intraparty primaries are decided by low-info voters based on what they see on tv: without a presence there, you’ll be defined by what those who do have that foothold in your district’s living rooms say about you.

    To run credible third party candidates?

    Until we get proportional representation &/or instant run-off ballots, the duopoly is hardwired into every election. Which they know, so we won’t get PR or IRO without revolutionary-scale agitation.

    Even a handful of worthwhile members of Congress could make quite a difference in conjunction with vigorous campaigns of demonstrations, strikes andor boycotts…

    Indeed, that has happened once in a while, as shown most recently by the Democratic women who stopped the (medical-coverage-only-as-allowed-by-employers) Blunt amendment. But pro-active campaigns for just about anything apparently make the D-party chiefs – most certainly including Obama – and funders uncomfortable enough to stifle anyone dependent on party largesse.

  16. 17

    [Story 4]: As of the end of March 6, all four personhood bills and three anti-ART bills have died in the Mississippi Legislature. There will be no personhood in Mississippi in 2012!

  17. ER
    18

    I had not heard word of the smackdown on the Blunt amendment and read it here. Good news, indeed. Greta, you made me smile today, FWIW.

  18. 19

    I agree, and I think you accurately summed it up. I would never have thought it would have taken this long, but am glad it is finally happening.

  19. 20

    As of today, Limbaugh has lost thirty sponsors but it will take vigilance to stop them from creeping back.

    One little point or information, though: Sandra Fluke did not *testify* and she did not testify in front of a Congressional committee. They refused to hear her on the grounds that their hearing was all about the religious rights of employers and had nothing to do with health care or the lack thereof. The point that freedom of religion should be the business of the person getting the contraceptives instead of their employer or school seems to have escaped them. However, she was invited to *speak* to a panel of Democratic representatives, where she made her pitch about student’s needs, finances, and health care its consequences without once mentioning sex. She has been part of an organization of students from her university that has been researching the problem and negotiating with the administration for three years. She also pointed out that the students paid 100% of their insurance premiums, which destroys the “wants other people to pay for it” argument.

    As you say, it’s heartening news. I am confident that if the American people ever get single-payer, non-profit healthcare, they will defend it with equal fervour.

  20. 21

    No matter how fiercely I support a woman’s right to control her body, it’s hard to come up with a pithy bumper sticker slogan to compete with “abortion kills babies.”

    “If you can’t force a person to donate a kidney, you can’t force her to donate a uterus.”

  21. 22

    A social change neap tide, with the promise of spring? Say it is so!

    Most satisfying to see that repulsive toad Rush Limbaugh spewing some nasal claret after his latest verbal egestion. I hope his sponsors stay strong, and stay away. Might be a vain hope, but I’ll keep it while it remains viable.

    Sex for pleasure – yeah. No society can live without it.

  22. 23

    Right. Freedom from religion, good! Freedom, of religion, bad!

    You know why atheists have a bad reputation, and people assume they want people to be bullied and shoved around and told what to do?

    Because of people like you:

    Story Two: The Blunt Amendment, a law that would have permitted employers to refuse to fund health insurance coverage for birth control or any other medical service they had religious or moral objections to, began to wind through Congress. A massive public outcry ensued — and the amendment was voted down in the Senate.

    Here’s something you may, in passing, have heard of:

    Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

    Emphasis added.

    Kinda important, maybe?

    You may be proud of Americans. Right now I’m ashamed of the atheists.

    One day, religious types who really, and truly mean it will make use of this precedent and will make you eat it. And I’ll fight them to the end, but I hope I will still have the presence of mind to laugh at you.

  23. 24

    Story Three: Rush Limbaugh spent three days spewing vitriol at a young woman, Sandra Fluke, who had testified before Congress in opposition to the Blunt Amendment, calling her (among many other things) a “slut” and a “prostitute” for supporting employer-paid birth contro

    Limbaugh is a windbag and a fool. But anyone remember the following?

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MGE3G5kfzps

    Maybe you should try reading this:

    http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2012/03/04/rush-limbaugh-s-apology-liberal-men-need-to-follow-suit.html

    Uh-huh.

    And then there’s this:

    http://www.therudenews.com/archives/4457

    Any complaints about this sort of thing? Ever?

    But then again, this is the same community that was up in arms over the whole “I Pose In My Underwear But Don’t Sexualize Me” Watson nonevent, but never does squat when there’s real aggression against women.

    Christ, I have my differences with comrade Namazie, but at least she’s got a spine. And courage in spades.

  24. 25

    frankboyd,

    stop commenting on topics you don’t understand anything about.
    Thank you.

    (As long as the government can demonstrate a compelling interest, it may very well restrict certain religious practices, see Employment Division, Department of Human Resources of Oregon v. Smith and Church of Lukumi Babalu Aye v. City of Hialeah)

  25. 26

    pelanum,

    Sucks to be called on it, doesn’t it?

    If forcing people who have moral objections to, not just contraception but also abortion and sterilisation to provide it is not a violation of freedom of religion, then I submit neither would be forcing PZ to host a creationist seminar. Or Ms. Christina to do the opening for Pat Robertson’s event.

    This is an outrage.

  26. 28

    (the next thing you could familiarise yourself is Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act. Courts often conduct tests if an organisation is sufficiently “infused with religious purpose” in order to be regarded as a religious one. All others have limits to how much they can discriminate based upon their religion. Your comparison with PZ, an individual person and no corporation, is nonsensical. It certainly has also escaped your notice that PZ does not mention his religious beliefs when teaching in the classroom, thus complying with the relevant federal laws)

  27. 30

    to frankboyd,

    Let me some it up in one sentence for you.

    Freedom of religion must and will take a back seat to freedom of the individual.

    No employer, even a religious one gets do decide what a person can or cannot do. There is no negotiation on this point. Churches can provide all the guidance and make up all the rules they want but they are not the law.

  28. 31

    I wouldn’t take your incoherent ramblings for “being called out” on anything

    Better be careful with your adjectives. *eyeroll*

  29. 32

    Frank, anyone with a religious objection to abortion is free not to have one.

    Anyone with a religious objection to contraception is free not to use it.

    What’s the issue?

  30. 123
    33

    Freedom of religion must and will take a back seat to freedom of the individual

    Sonny boy, the two are inseparable. Only individuals are free. Only individuals may or may not practice religion.

    It is you and yours who are celebrating the violation of the religious freedom of individuals. The right not to endorse something you find morally repugnant is pretty damn fundamental.

    Buy your own damn condoms.

    I’ve hated the Catholic Church since I’ve been old enough to understand. I’ve fought religion my entire life. I never thought I would see the day that supposedly fellow atheists force me to defend them.

    No employer, even a religious one gets do decide what a person can or cannot do.

    Right. An employer is not an individual. Or is it that Catholics aren’t individuals?

    Come to think of it, when I read this community the sense is that the religious, American, working class Christians especially aren’t reallllly human….

  31. 35

    I’ve just noticed I got the damn proxy email and name mixed up in the last post.

    Azkyroth

    Frank, anyone with a religious objection to abortion is free not to have one.

    Anyone with a religious objection to contraception is free not to use it.

    What’s the issue?

    The issue is forcing someone to endorse it. To pay for it.

    Let me give a parallel example. Freedom of speech, important yes? Okay, then you can be forced to distribute, and pay for, Jack Chick tracts. To anyone that wants them. And Falwell screeds. And Robertson recordings.

    Sound like freedom now?

  32. 36

    And no one – no one – touches what I have written about entrenched misogyny that goes against your own politics. That never was talked about here.

    I guess it’s okay to call for “hate fucking” women if they are conservative. Right?

  33. 37

    123,

    employers are individuals too, but so are their employees. If the government can show a compelling interest it may force these employers, as any individual, to do things they wouldn’t want to.

    – A murderer once claimed his religious beliefs compelled him to kill. This was rejected.
    – A city in Florida ought to prohibit animal sacrifice. Was struck down because it unduly affected one particular religion, in which case a compelling interest must be demonstrated.
    – An employee was fired because of the use of controlled substances, claiming it was part of their religious beliefs. Firing upheld in court.

    Etcpp.

    There are limits to what an employer may do in their workplace. Title VII organisations have certain privileges, but you need to look at the case law again.

    – a nun teaching canon law denied tenure. OK, because her teachings touched upon areas central to the Catholic faith.
    – various universities could demonstrate sufficient ties to religious organisations and were thus granted Title VII exemptions.
    – a school restricting employment to Protestants failed to demonstrate enough religious ties, thus was denied the right to discriminate based on religion.

    (IANAL, but I think Title VII could work that way: Employee denied contraception on religious grounds sues for religious discrimination. Court then has to determine whether and how the employer falls under Title VII)

    Now maybe a blanket obligation to all universities and hospitals might have been too far, but that’s what the courts are there for, so it’s good the president came up with a compromise. So I really don’t see the hub-bub. Insurance companies are not religious organisations and there would be no problem at all to compel them to provide contraception.

  34. 38

    frankboyd,

    And no one – no one – touches what I have written about entrenched misogyny that goes against your own politics. That never was talked about here.

    I guess it’s okay to call for “hate fucking” women if they are conservative. Right?

    no-one takes you seriously here, but many people here, bloggers and commenters, have been calling out Bill Maher for his misogyny and anti-vaxxism.

    Yet again you demonstrate you have no idea what you’re talking about.

  35. 39

    Let me rephrase this:

    Now maybe a blanket obligation to all universities and hospitals might have been too far, but that’s what the courts are there for, to hash out where the lines are. Nonetheless, it’s good the president came up with a compromise. So I really don’t see the hub-bub. Insurance companies are not religious organisations and there would be no problem at all to compel them to provide contraception.

  36. 40

    “And it occurred to me: This is the birth control generation. This is the generation that came into adulthood in the sixties and seventies, when birth control was starting to become normalized. This is the generation — and I don’t know why this should surprise me, I’m fifty, it’s my generation too — that sees birth control, not as a sign of uncontrolled wantonness, but as a sign of responsibility, and of making smart choices about sexuality and parenthood.”

    Very insightful, it’s stuff like this I mean when I call you “perceptive”.

    Sensemaker

  37. 41

    DaveDodo007, #13: Greta didn’t say she is proud of America. She said she is proud of the Americans who stand up for the right to use birth control. Not quite the same thing.

    “If you can’t force a person to donate a kidney, you can’t force her to donate a uterus.” That’s brilliant, Azkyroth!

    frankboyd: Come on. Are you saying the poor employers are being bullied because they don’t get to decide what their employees should do with their reproductive organs??

  38. 42

    wendy #5:

    [I]it’s hard to come up with a pithy bumper sticker slogan to compete with “abortion kills babies.”

    How about:

    Poverty kills more babies than condoms do

  39. 43

    Frank, you must be one of those “low info” voters.
    A little nugget of knowledge for you,

    Health benefits are part of what you are getting paid for the work you do.
    If you get health insurance through your employer it does not belong to the employer. It belongs to you.
    An employer does not have a right to tell you where you can or where you can’t spend your hard earned money. The same goes with health insurance.

    Quit trying to push your dark age nonsense and go get some school.

    Oh and one more thing. A church is not a person. A church is not a corporation. Both of these pay taxes.

  40. 44

    Frank, let me explain this using some of your own words

    The issue is forcing someone to endorse it. To pay for it.

    Healthcare does alot of things besides contraception. It’s not quite as verastile as cash though.
    Speaking of cash…….

    Buy your own damn condoms

    With the money I get from my employer. Right? By the rational your spouting, the church would be “paying for it” either way.

    You don’t really care about this do you? You want an excuse to froth at the mouth in a moral panic and this is the excuse of the moment.

  41. 45

    Sandra Fluke’s important point in her testimony was that birth control pills are used for health reasons not related to ‘sex is fun’. In addition to its crassness, the problem with Limbaugh’s attack on her is that he was claiming she made a different point (that she wants to have sex at the tax payers’ expense).

    So, yeah, some people are standing up for sex as fun, but the issue is much more than that.

  42. 46

    An employer does not have a right to tell you where you can or where you can’t spend your hard earned money. The same goes with health insurance.

    Regardless of the difference practically, there is an immense difference morally. You are free to ask for paid-for contraception as part of your negotiation with your employer, and he is free to accept or deny that.

    It is not, however, acceptable to use the state to force him to take your terms.

    no-one takes you seriously here, but many people here, bloggers and commenters, have been calling out Bill Maher for his misogyny and anti-vaxxism.

    I’ve seen plenty of people go after him because of his anti-vaxxism. Because of misogyny – not so much. And I cannot recall any tackling of this issue when it was addressed against women who were conservative.

    So let’s drop the moral pretence, shall we?

    Incidentally, I’m neither a woman, a Catholic, or a conservative, but I somehow manage to stick up for them when it is necessary.

    Funny how that works.

  43. 48

    The birth control “debate” and “controversy” shook me up a lot. For a while before this whole thing, I was thinking about how better things were for women. Of course things were not perfect, but we had come a long ways. Look how far we as a world had moved from the 1960s.
    Then this thing happened. And I suddenly realized that for all the talk about equality and rights, women are going to be marginalized yet again. Yes, people rallied around this issue and the anti-choice legislation being passed, but the very idea that these things would even be on the table is horrible. Women are not even thought of as equal. Otherwise this kind of preposterous nonsense will not go on.
    The takeaway for me has been to become more vocal about these things. To stop letting idle talk, which is belittling and slighting, to go unprotested.
    And this is not a women’s thing alone. It holds for almost any other kinds of rights that any minority- ethnic, racial or religious(here is looking at you atheists)strives for.
    We cannot be quiet. We have to be loud and vocal. Because once we stop the struggle someone will abrogate our rights- and impose even more restrictions. That idea is scary.

  44. 50

    I’m not gonna help you if you’re too stupid to use Google.

    pelamun @ #47 (and everyone else): Please keep it civil. No personal insults, no namecalling. Limit criticisms to ideas and behaviors; no personal attacks on other commenters. Thank you.

  45. 51

    Greta,

    frankboyd has distinguished himself in a negative way on various blogs here. I’ve to try to exercise maximum restraint in trying to engage him, as I was deeply appalled by the vile stuff he has been writing on this thread.

    I’ll respect it if that goes against your comments policy but in that case I’ll just bow out of this thread.

  46. 52

    pelanum,

    Using google I can find complaints about Maher’s anti-vax nonsense in nothing flat. I cannot find anything on his misogyny, and I find your comrade Chiroptera defending that sort of talk from Maher before I can find any condemnation.

    And that’s the least of it. So come on, where’s the grand outrage when your side decides its funny to circulate lists of conservative women who “need to be hate fucked” or any of the rest of it? Anything like the brouhaha about the windbag Limbaugh or the nonevent about Watson?

    I’m waaaaiiiting…

  47. 53

    You’re pretty good at this trolling thing, frankboyd. I give it an eight of ten for effort.

    What does Bill Maher (and any other random libertarian-esque figure you might pull out) have to do with the topic at hand? Nothing.

    What do random unnamed groups that may or may not be spreading slurs and/or threats have to do with the topic? Nothing. Also, a hint: the probability of any arbitrary group having at least one political view in common with you is nearly one hundred percent.

    No one here endorses slurs, threats, or violence as a means to an ends. You’re barking up a tree with no one in it.

    This is about whether insurance companies ought to provide medicine that acts as preventive care under the legal class of preventive care, thus causing it to carry no co-payment or additional payments beyond the cost of insurance itself. There’s no real argument about whether birth control functions as preventive care nor whether it saves costs. It definitely does and all of the available data shows it.

    As a result, the opposition apparently has no case whatsoever and must grasp at straws like “freedom of religion”, which does not and never has meant what you’re saying it means. Freedom of religion has never, in the entire history of the United States, meant the ability to do whatever you like if you claim God told you so. It has never meant the ability to refuse service to others on the basis of your objection to their behavior. It has never meant the ability to discriminate on arbitrary values, nor to eliminate equal treatment under the law merely because it happened to be popular at the time.

    You’re living in a delusion. There’s no such thing as an absolute right. Your rights end just as soon as your exercise thereof begins to harm another person, and this has been the prevailing legal understanding for many, many years now.

  48. 54

    kagerato,

    Ever hear the AIDS slogan, Silence = Acceptance?

    These are your people, my friend. Don’t even bother to try to deny it.

    As a result, the opposition apparently has no case whatsoever and must grasp at straws like “freedom of religion”, which does not and never has meant what you’re saying it means. Freedom of religion has never, in the entire history of the United States, meant the ability to do whatever you like if you claim God told you so. It has never meant the ability to refuse service to others on the basis of your objection to their behavio

    Ooooh! I see how this goes!

    “Freedom from religion has never meant the ability to refuse service to others on the basis of your objection to their behaviour.”

    PZ Myers, please report for your creationist materials, and it will be required that you make them available at all of your courses. Greta Christina, please stand by for a large amount of literature from the Concerned Women For America, which you will be required to promote on your blog.

    Doesn’t mean you can’t promote your regular stuff, but we cannot have you denying access to opposing views. And you are fully entitled to your own private views, but if you have a University chair or a much visited blog, you are in the public sphere, and you have responsibilities.

    Doesn’t that sound like a load of fun? It’s about what you deserve after this.

    There’s no such thing as an absolute right. Y

    Really, sunshine? Then lets have equal time for those who want women to be equal, and those who want them flogged for going out without a male relative.

    What’s that? You object? Wait – no “absolute right”, remember? So lets have at least a little flogging. Wouldn’t want to get all nasty and absolutist now, would we?

    If you have a problem with the package your insurance company provides, find another one. If you can’t find another one, found your own. If you’re unwilling to do either – tough. You don’t have “a right” to the insurance policy of your dreams, anymore than I have “a right” to a yacht.

  49. 56

    pelamun @ #47 (and everyone else): Please keep it civil. No personal insults, no namecalling. Limit criticisms to ideas and behaviors; no personal attacks on other commenters. Thank you.

    Greta, since it’s come up before, here’s some friendly advice:

    If you’re going to crack down on people’s natural and reasonable responses to trolls, but not the trolls themselves, you’re going to wind up with a blog full of nothing but comments like frank’s.

    Is that really what you want?

  50. 57

    These are your people, my friend. Don’t even bother to try to deny it.

    You didn’t even identify who you were talking about (as I said before). They aren’t “my” people or those of anyone else here, and there’s no reason whatsoever to think I agree with whatever anonymous group it is you’re writing about. This is all argument by assertion and an attempt to distract from the issue at hand.

    If you’d identify who or what it is you’re talking about, assuming it’s as egregious and clear cut as you claim, I’d gladly condemn it and get that out of the way. You don’t, because this is all about wasting time and preventing genuine discussion.

    PZ Myers, please report for your creationist materials, and it will be required that you make them available at all of your courses. Greta Christina, please stand by for a large amount of literature from the Concerned Women For America, which you will be required to promote on your blog.

    These analogies are completely incoherent. No one is being forced to say something contrary to their views. That would actually be a First Amendment violation, assuming it were the government doing the enforcement.

    What you’re defending is the “right” of pharmacists and insurance companies not to do their jobs, which is to dispense and pay for medicine (respectively). It’d be much the same as claiming firefighters should have the right to choose which fires to eliminate based upon the owner of the building, or police to choose who to arrest or not arrest based upon their personal views. Or more egregiously, it’s someone who got into arms manufacturing complaining that their weapons are being to used to kill people they like. If you think the profession itself is immoral, then you’re simply incapable of doing that job and should never have gotten into it to begin with. You don’t have to right to pick and choose which laws to follow.

    Unless, of course, you’re willing to be jailed for civil disobedience or criminal misconduct. It’s very clear that these protesters of the “evil, evil” birth control have no such convictions.

    What happens to teachers who refuse to teach the curriculum they’re given? Typically they’re fired or driven out by the process/administration. The exceptions are in exactly those cases where one can show that by the facts that the law was clearly violated. You can’t teach creationism in public schools because it’s been repeatedly ruled by the courts to be a religious concept and thus an endorsement of religion.

    Private speech isn’t even in the picture. Anyone’s blog is their own space; it’s no public statement of anything. Churches can continue to rant about the destructiveness of contraception, gays, evilution, et cetera until the damn cows come home. No one is claiming this is somehow a legal matter — except in the rare cases where they may be violating the conditions of their tax-exempt status.

    Doesn’t that sound like a load of fun? It’s about what you deserve after this.

    Your sadism is noted.

    So lets have at least a little flogging. Wouldn’t want to get all nasty and absolutist now, would we?

    Inflicting violence on others is violating their rights. Yes, their limited, non-absolute rights as defined by the law. It’s a crime.

    How is it that requiring a company to provide a general purpose service without exemptions for every religion and its arbitrarily defined rules becomes equivalent to imposing violence on others?

    Indeed, how is it that you turn my argument about not supporting religious tenets into one that supports religiously-backed assaults on women? Could this be any more backwards?

    If you have a problem with the package your insurance company provides, find another one. If you can’t find another one, found your own. If you’re unwilling to do either – tough. You don’t have “a right” to the insurance policy of your dreams, anymore than I have “a right” to a yacht.

    Typical anarcho-libertarian nonsense. If you don’t like the laws, leave the country… If you don’t like the business, use another… Even if they don’t exist! You can found one, it’ll just take five decades and tens of millions of dollars you never had to begin with, but hey, it’ll totally work. Wink, wink.

    People have the right to representation and laws that meet their views, most especially when those views expand the rights and capacities of society at large. You might have had a point if the purpose of the Obama administration’s changes were to control the behavior of a minority to the advantage of the majority, but that would have required them to take a completely different stance than they actually did. Facts, you see. Very important.

    Your entire hangup in your posts is that the government wants to set the law (interpret regulations, to be more precise) in a way that it might actually help a group of people that doesn’t include you. That is moronic and self-centered, to say the least. It is the entire purpose of government to provide services and ensure fundamental standards of quality of life for citizens. In doing this, it is essential that the view of no private citizen nor private group can be used as de-facto sufficient justification for setting policy, as that causes endless partitioning in the direction of dismantling society.

    Therefore, if the government is to do something, it must first find a secular and independent reason to do it. Providing birth control reduces net health costs throughout society by preventing unwanted pregnancy. This would be more than sufficient reason by itself. However, it also increases the freedom of half the population to live as they see fit. The effects of that cannot possibly be understated.

  51. 58

    The issue is forcing someone to endorse it. To pay for it.

    Well, no, that’s not the issue, because including birth control actually lowers the total outlay for health services so it’s in the best interest of the insurance company to include it at no extra charge. This effect has been clearly demonstrated in the 28 states where state law already requires employers like the Catholic Church to include birth control coverage, and where employers, including the Catholic Church, have already been doing so for years.

    Group health insurance which does not include birth control is more expensive than group health insurance which does include birth control because birth control doesn’t just save money by preventing expensive treatments for ovarian cysts, endometriosis and dysmenorrhea.

    Women who are able to plan their pregnancies choose to make dietary and life style accommodations that ensure they have the best possible chance of a successful pregnancy. It pays off. Women who use birth control to space their pregnancies and who prepare have fewer expensive pregnancy complications, are less likely to need medically necessary abortions, have a lower incidence of emergency deliveries, fewer caesareans, fewer stillbirths, and improved outcomes for their infants because the rates drop for premature births and birth defects, both of which can require expensive stays in neonatal intensive care nurseries, reconstructive surgeries and long-term care.

    While I would agree that the Bishops have a ‘religious freedom right’ to believe anything at all that they wish, I don’t believe their ‘beliefs’ entitle them to negatively affect public health by withholding medications which decrease the rates of death and disability for both women and children. And which, incidentally, are estimated to make abortion rates drop by at least one-third.

  52. 59

    You can found one, it’ll just take five decades and tens of millions of dollars you never had to begin with, but hey, it’ll totally work. Wink, wink.

    So you know full well what kind of resource and what kind of work it takes to make that possible – and knowing all that, you think you have a right, somehow, somewhere to have someone else work and make it possible for you, with only your demand and the government-gun as your sanction. And that is exactly what you say when you say that it’s moral because there are laws backing it up.

    Very moral.

    People have the right to representation and laws that meet their views, most especially when those views expand the rights and capacities of society at large.

    Okay: the number of people in the States who believe Jesus Christ is the risen Lord and Saviour vastly outnumber people like you. Mandatory education in that belief, and an end to the teaching of evolution, beginning next thursday.

    That’s “society” for you. And it is “at large”.

    These analogies are completely incoherent. No one is being forced to say something contrary to their views. That would actually be a First Amendment violation, assuming it were the government doing the enforcement.

    No one is saying anything about forcing you to say anything, merely to distribute the materials. See how easy this filthy game is?

    And you are asking that people be forced to endorse views that run precisely counter to their own moral convictions. That is the dead giveaway. There are many states that have censorship. But it is only the truly depraved that demand, not just that you remain silent, but that you piously affirm the party line.

    But moral arguments are wasted on people like you. So let me make it simple: one day, the religious will be back in power and do not think they will have forgotten this. And when they make you squeal like little pigs, I hope that, even while I’ll oppose them, I’ll remember to laugh.

  53. 60

    kagerato,

    How is it that requiring a company to provide a general purpose service without exemptions for every religion and its arbitrarily defined rules becomes equivalent to imposing violence on others?

    Why do you object? No such thing as absolute right, is there? You said it buster, not me.

    crowepps,

    the total outlay for health services so it’s in the best interest of the insurance company to include it at no extra charg

    Here’s an idea: how about I get to tell you what to do and say, and back it up with the full force of the law, and tell you “it’s for your own good” as my justification? Sound like fun?

    I have not said anything against people not being permitted to use contraception or any of the rest of it. I have said that you may not force someone else to pay for it. That is contemptible at the best of times, but it becomes grotesque when you are forcing someone to pay for something they do not believe in.

  54. 61

    Oh Frank,

    I have not said anything against people not being permitted to use contraception or any of the rest of it. I have said that you may not force someone else to pay for it. That is contemptible at the best of times, but it becomes grotesque when you are forcing someone to pay for something they do not believe in.

    I and others have been over this with you several times on why this is a lie.
    No religious organization is “paying” for anything. Employees earn their healthcare. It has been this way for a long time. If the insurance company offers it then the employee, not the employer, decides whether to make use of the benefit which they have earned. You’re ringing your hands over a imaginary offense.

    But moral arguments are wasted on people like you. So let me make it simple: one day, the religious will be back in power and do not think they will have forgotten this. And when they make you squeal like little pigs, I hope that, even while I’ll oppose them, I’ll remember to laugh.

    So much for freedom, eh Frank?

  55. 62

    mployees earn their healthcare

    Again, for the comprehension impaired. An employer is free to specify that they will not pay for X as part of the offer they make to the employee. And the employee is free to accept or reject or negotiate.

    So much for freedom, eh Frank?

    I defend the freedom of people I despise, such as yourself. You do nothing but scrabble after your own miserable privileges.

  56. 63

    I defend the freedom of people I despise, such as yourself. You do nothing but scrabble after your own miserable privileges.

    And that’s it. People in this thread have been repeatedly warned about the use of personal insults aimed at other commenters. frankboyd has chosen to ignore this warning. He has been banned from commenting in this blog.

  57. 64

    That’s kind of a shame, because I wanted to ask frankboyd whether he considered statutes against polygamy to be an unconstitutional infringement on the free exercise of religion by Muslim men, who are, after all, permitted by their religion to marry up to four women.

  58. 65

    For my part, I was going to ask next whether my opposition to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan gives me the right to eliminate the military. Or, at the very least, to make command decisions for the president as to how my tax money is being used. Since, after all, I shouldn’t be forced to pay for any kind of service I have the slightest disagreement with. Right?

  59. 66

    The point that continually gets missed is the compromise would allow employees to buy an addendum to employer provided coverage to cover contraception AT THEIR OWN ADDED EXPENSE, not the employers or taxpayers. Geez, nobody seems to have any comprehension.

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