I’m breaking all the rules and ranting a bit about politics and religion. Okay so it’s not really about politics or religion, but these two things are the main cause of a stigma that is DRIVING ME CRAZY.
The Affordable Care Act is trying to provide more women with estrogen pills, more commonly called “birth control.” This has caused a lot of backlash from people who don’t want their tax dollars going to promiscuous and irresponsible women. Birth control is taboo.
Disclaimer: I am a Christian.
And Christians are making this taboo a GAZILLION times worse! Companies that I generally support, like Hobby Lobby, are making a big fuss over having to provide birth control to women when this is somehow against our religion. I get it. Sex outside of marriage is wrong, and some denominations believe that sex should be procreational. That’s not my personal viewpoint but I respect it. I think it would be totally wrong to force these Christian companies to provide pills to prevent pregnancy and encourage sex for sex’s sake if they really believe that’s wrong. I believe that the Bible encourages sex as a natural part of a human relationship between lifelong mates, but that’s not what this is about.
THIS ISSUE HAS ABSOLUTELY NOTHING TO DO WITH SEX.
Yes, Hobby Lobby, I’m talking to you. Yes, taxpayers, I’m talking to you. You are not providing a recreational drug that enables women to have wonton sex and no responsibility. I would be so bold as to say that most women who take “birth control” don’t take it as “birth control.” It’s hormone treatment, and I wish everyone could just call it that. “Birth control” is a biased word like “Obamacare.” It’s derogatory. Hormone treatment is a neutral and accurate name.
Most women take birth control for health reasons, and it is as necessary as insulin to diabetics and antihistamine to people with allergies. It gives people their lives back.
In my case, I started taking hormonal treatment at age 17. I was suffering from extreme abdominal pain that would later be identified as endometriosis. There is no cure for this chronic pain condition. The most common and most effective treatment is estrogen pills – hormone treatment – “birth control.” This is the only long-lasting way to control flares of pain. All it can do is lengthen the cycles of pain, and give me more time between pain episodes to feel normal and do life.
Without this treatment, my pain would be unpredictable and more frequent. I don’t know if I’d be able to keep a job – in fact, even with hormone treatment many women can’t. Endometriosis is a severe, debilitating disease. Some politicians are trying to make it easier for me to have access to this medicine that has given me my life back – but because it also makes it possible for me to not have a baby if I don’t want to, people are trying to stop it.
But I’m not a special case – there are 8.5 million women in North America that also have endometriosis. But, you math whizzes out there might still say Oh phooey, that’s only like, 4% of all women in North America. I’m sure the other 96% actually use it for well, birth control.
Well, actually, only 17% of the US population of women use the birth control pill. Minus the 4% with endometriosis, you only have 13% of our population to suspect of promiscuity and irresponsibility. But still, that is millions of women, so let’s keep looking.
28% of the 17% of women who take birth control – that’s almost 5% according to my math – take it to control excess bleeding and regulate periods. That may sound dumb if you’re a male, but being on your period, especially if it’s unpredictable and more frequent than once a month, is extremely draining. Cramps, headaches, bloating, and extreme fatigue are common symptoms. But I’ll put it in terms I bet you can understand – would you want your wife, girlfriend, coworkers, or daughters to be PMSing more than once a month? They don’t want that, either.
So now we have 8-9% of women to be judgmental about. A little over 5% of them are taking the pill to control painful periods. Pain management is a taboo subject all on it’s own, and feminine pain related to the menstrual cycle is all but laughed at in society today. It’s never a valid reason to say, miss work, right? But without this method to control pain, these women might turn to alcohol, marijuana, narcotics, and all manner of other self-medication. Politicians, won’t that hurt your war on drugs? Christians, would you really rather that women risk the path of addiction and illegal drugs than take “birth control?”
Now, I would guess that some of those 5% ladies have endometriosis and it’s just not diagnosed yet, so lets say we still have about 5% of all the women in america that are destroying the fabric of society in a frivolous pursuit of sexual freedom. About 2% use it to treat acne, which, I know is kind of a dumb reason in the great scheme of things, but these are younger girls who aren’t sexually active for the most part. In fact, there’s about 762,000 women who are not sexually active but are on the pill exclusively for medical reasons.
You’re running out of women to hold up the stereotype.
I generally believe in stereotypes, I can admit that. Aren’t they usually based on truth? But in this case, it’s based on, at worst, male oppression of women and at best, social standards. Look at movies, TV, the internet, etc. For more of a wake up call, look at your own life and the conversations you have. What do people talk about more? Sex? Or “feminine issues?” The dating scene? Or women’s health? One night stands? Or a pain in your “lady parts?” We’re embarassed. We’re embarrassed to death. No one, male or female, wants to hear about that disgustingness that occurs in your body once a month. That’s probably okay, until you need help. Until you wonder how much pain is normal. Until you’ve run out of fake ailments to list to your boss because if you say endometriosis and they say “what’s that?” you’d have to answer “…you don’t want to know.”
So what are some other preventative care benefits being implemented by the affordable care act?
There’s immunizations, which has gotten some mixed press lately. Some parents are very against immunizations, but I’ve never heard of businesses refusing to cover them because of their own views. 36% of Americans get flu shots, but other than that not many adults stay up to date on shots – the leading vaccine being HPV, which 10% of women get.
Mammograms are covered. Thanks to pink-washing, women are finally confident talking about breast health, and 60-70% of women in America are screened for breast cancer. Of course, I have heard of cases where some women oppose to mammograms and some argue that it causes “overdiagnosis,” but again, I’ve never heard of a business refusing to cover this life-saving test. And 60% is a lot higher than the 17% that we’re so worried about providing hormone treatment for.
Also covered are various screenings and counseling for tobacco use, abuse of alcohol, and screenings for STDs. Should testing and medicine for STDs be covered by places like Hobby Lobby? Wouldn’t they have the same qualms with that as they do for providing women with “birth control?” And whereas hormone pills treat a range of ailments, STDs are exclusively about sex. If your Christian employees shared your views, they wouldn’t need these tests, right?
By the way, about 30% of adults get tested for STDs. Again, a lot more than the 17% of us who use estrogen pills.
If you’re a Christian company, why don’t you trust your employees to do “the right thing?” No one is forcing them to take hormonal treatments. If your employees share your views, they won’t take the pill. If they don’t, do you think you’ll convert them by exerting power over them? By controlling their choices? Closing the store on Sunday gives people an opportunity to go to church. It’s also an extension of mercy or grace – you give everyone a day off, and that’s generous. But controlling their medical decisions? No questions asked, just saying an overall no to hormone treatment because some people use it to prevent pregnancy? Not going case by case, but giving an ultimatum? That is an abuse of power but more tragically, an abuse of faith.
I hear it said often that Christians are Christianity’s biggest enemy. That’s true. Don’t kick the pregnant teen out of youth group. Don’t make people live in ignorance about what hormone treatment could do for them – don’t tempt them to seek narcotics for pain that has an answer and that can be controlled with few side effects. Don’t shame women into pretending women’s health issues don’t exist. If Hobby Lobby said they refuse to pay for STD testing, some people may still think it’s going too far but at least it makes more sense than taking away a medication from women who live in pain every day of their lives.
It’s not birth control. Calling it birth control is like me calling Hobby Lobby a cult and America a communist regime. It’s a biased hyperbole, and it’s hurting people.