Trampling On Freedom: Yes, But Whose?

If you are like me, you perhaps were greeted with the following image from yesterday.


The all older, male, predominantly white, witnesses testifying on the birth control benefit on Capitol Hill. Welcome to the sexist sausage party.


Of course, I immediately thought, hmm, another banking scandal cum testimony on the way? God save the banks. Of course, I was very wrong. What you are seeing here, if you haven’t already, is a still from the Capitol Hill Hearing on Obama’s most recent mandate on insuring birth control. Perhaps by now, you are experiencing the same feelings that I did when I saw a photo of an all-male witness stand that is speaking on birth control as a threat to religious freedom.

The hearing was not without its fraught moments. Led by Republican committee chairman, Darrell Issa, the panel was investigating whether or not Obama had hurt religious freedoms by the most recent mandate requiring health insurance companies cover contraception. The hearing, which consisted of an all male panel testifying in front of a predominantly all male committee (though later in the day, The Nation reports that ” two women on a later panel, Allison Garrett, the senior vice president for academic affairs at Oklahoma Christian University and Laura Champion, a doctor at Calvin College Health Services were allowed to testify” ). However, early on in the day, there was not  a single woman testifying, a fact that garnered a huge amount of attention, and worsened by the fact that Issa effectively barred the only woman requested to testify. Representative Elijah Cummings asked to let the committee include the testimony of Sandra Fluke, a young Georgetown law student and the sole woman in the entire witness docket. Issa denied the request, stating, “The hearing is not about reproductive rights and contraception but instead about the Administration’s actions as they relate to freedom of religion and conscience”¦Ms. Fluke is not an appropriate witness,”  further stating that the witness was a “college student” who did not “have the appropriate credentials” to testify.

Issa further insisted that the hearing was about the infringement of religious rights and “liberty,” not contraception coverage, denying the further request of the panel’s women representatives. Chairman Issa rejected the one and only woman witness in the trial, one that came with a final appeal after a trial of nothing but male religious leaders.

If it had not occurred to you by now, then please allow me spell it out in a very calm way that will perhaps prevent my own unhinging by the seams from the undeniable anger I am feeling at this very moment. Women were barred from speaking at this hearing on an issue that is intimately ours. We were single-handedly told, whether conscious or not, by these panel members and by Chairman Issa that we are not experts on our own experience and that our concerns are petty in the face of what is being sold as “the attack on religious freedom.” So when both Representative Carolyn Maloney and Eleanor Holmes Norton walked out of the hearing in protest, I can do nothing but shake my head in agreement.

I don’t see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive health care services, including family planning.” –Representative Carolyn Maloney

Of course, if you want a little more open condescension with your sexism, a little salt in your wound, why not seek out the opinion of Foster Freiss, Rick Santorum’s Super PAC Backer, who I am still looking for the exact reasons of what exactly qualifies him to be speaking on MSNBC in regards to birth control.

Yes, yes, the good ole days. I think many us are very intimate with this argument, you know, the one where in back in their days, we had no rights. The one’s where women just put aspirin between their knees (and it was just so cute when some man said that’s what needed to be done). Yes, the good ole days, the phrase in which every one of these men seem to be slipping into the conversation as if things were just so much better back when women were still allowed to be legally raped and murdered by their husbands, possessing birth control was something that could land you in jail, and dieing from an abortion because you didn’t have access to birth control was just, well, the norm. The good ole days. Sure. But for who?

I know that some people are out there saying that they do feel that there religious freedom is close to being violated, that they feel that this measure is a slippery slope, and that they as religious people, do not necessarily agree with this decision. I agree with their decision to feel this way. However, I cannot sit here today, looking at this panel, looking at these videos and think, yes, this is about religion. I cannot sit here and understand the logical fallacy that the GOP voted on contraception for wild horses, but will do anything to keep it away from actual people. I cannot sit here, looking at the state of reproductive rights in this country, where today in Virginia and Texas, there are not one but two bills going up to circumvent the protection that Roe v. Wade offers: the first, a bill requiring the use of forrced trans-vaginal ultrasound for all those seeking abortions (to which I recommend Governor Bob McDonnell looking up Virginia’s § 18.2-61. Rape. Definition) and the other, an egg-personhood bill that not only intends to outlaw abortion for everyone (incest, underage, and rape victims included), but also forms of hormonal birth control.

Moreover, I cannot sit here, with the experience that burns in my memory, of going to my local pharmacy when I was a mere eighteen years old and having a pharmacist not only deny me my prescribed birth control, which I had already paid for, but who then recommended I just keep my legs closed, in front of everyone who had moseyed in to pick up their Viagra, heart medication, and hemorrhoid cream, with nary a problem and of course, no workplace or legal recourse. I cannot have faith in these people who are doing everything they can to take something away from me, something that is part of my autonomy, as well as thousands of other, in anyway which way it presents itself, whether its under the umbrella of religious freedom or health concerns, especially not when the only witnesses brought are those still opposed to the new measure, who just happen to be men with a capital M in the power politic.

No, I cannot.  Because when its asked, “Where are the women?” I can no longer assume a good faith policy. Because this may be a war, but it most certainly is not a war of religion.



61 thoughts on “Trampling On Freedom: Yes, But Whose?”

  1. I’ve had 2 Mirena’s.  My current one was placed 2 years ago, and at that time it cost (before insurance deductions and such) about $700 (or at least, that is what my GYN’s office charged my insurance company).  So, yeah, $700, is a LOT cheaper than pre-natal care, labor, delivery, and neo-natal care.  Especially when you consider that Mirena is good for 5 years, and that it is possible for one woman to deliver a baby every year…..One Mirena is MUCH cheaper than 5 pregnancies and births.

    Personally, if I was denied access to birth control, I would either have to either remain celibate for the rest of my married life or risk my life.  Mr. Nevada and I have been married for 13 years.  My last pregnancy had life threatening complications.  While I am now still able conceive, I was told by my OB that another pregnancy wouldn’t simply be extremely high risk, it would be highly life threatening to me, AND the fetus.  So I can either be celibate, or get birth control.  And since Mr. Nevada and I are in it for the long haul, he has the same choices (cause he really doesn’t want me to die from something that could so easily have been prevented).  For the record, he got a vasectomy AND I got a Mirena (just to be sure).  I know I represent a small section of the population, but what about married partners who have to avoid pregnancy because any pregnancy would be a very potential death threat, but want to have (biblically and legally sanctioned) sex?

  2. Everyone has already said everything I’m thinking, so I’ll just chime in with a “Fuck yeah!” and this picture (I don’t remember where I saw it, but I got it off the internet machine today).

    (Edit: It won’t upload, so I’m just going to link to the first one that shows up on Google images)

  3. To come at it from a business standpoint, it’s just good sense to make contraception freely available to your employees.  When your employees are able to manage their health, whether it’s HBC for acne control or Mirena for no periods and no babies, YOU HAVE MORE PRODUCTIVE AND HAPPIER EMPLOYEES.  It’s exponentially cheaper to pony up for someone’s Depo shot than it is to cover prenatal care and the cost of a birth.  My IUD was $75 out of pocket (I wish I could remember how much it was before insurance covered it).  The cost of my pregnancy and birth?  $36,000.  Thirty six thousand dollars.  $3500 was out of pocket, and I just finally paid it off with my tax return (which was bigger than normal because we had a kid last year).

    I just want to see these guys display the stones to say “we don’t like women, and we don’t like the freedom they currently have, and we want them to be subservient to us.”  Because as far as I can tell, that’s the subtext to fucking everything they do.

    1. I’ve had 2 Mirena’s.  My current one was placed 2 years ago, and at that time it cost (before insurance deductions and such) about $700 (or at least, that is what my GYN’s office charged my insurance company).  So, yeah, $700, is a LOT cheaper than pre-natal care, labor, delivery, and neo-natal care.  Especially when you consider that Mirena is good for 5 years, and that it is possible for one woman to deliver a baby every year…..One Mirena is MUCH cheaper than 5 pregnancies and births.

      It is all about control.  If they can control what comes out of a woman’s uterus, they control her freedom.

  4. This is something I’ve been wanting to rant on here for a while about.

    My HBC is necessary for me to function in society, and I will be on it until menopause. Without it, my mood swings are severe enough that I get into fistfights, as the two poles (for me) are extreme depression and violent anger, and it can take all of 3 seconds to go all the way from one pole to the other.

    Even though I am a lesbian, the realization when I was 19 that I would never be able to have biological children (there was a bit of a mess-up with one of my meds, took some late, and it was ugly. Didn’t get into any fights, but pretty much had to hole myself up for a few days) was tough. I want kids someday. I really, really, really want kids someday.

    I am FORTUNATE that I found out, at 19, before I was at a point in my life when actively TTC (note: six years later, still not at that point), that I will never have biological children. At 19, I was literally sitting in church praying about it on Good Friday, when the message came through, clear as day: “You’re supposed to adopt. Duh.” As a Christian, I do firmly believe that part of God’s plan is for me to adopt children, and that this whole hormonal journey was, in a way, telling me that well in advance of it actually happening so that I could be at peace with it when the time came.

    Also, as a side-note: If we’re not supposed to interfere with God’s reproductive plan, I sincerely hope that they don’t cover Viagra.

    And as another side-note: if God REALLY wants someone to get pregnant, they will, whether they have sex or not. He’s done it before.

  5. I read this on a break between classes and have been fuming all afternoon. I swear I’m on the verge of a Summer Roberts rage blackout.

    I’ve had two conversations this week about religion and contraceptives, one with my ex who’s at seminary to become a priest (and who, until recently, was extremely progressive and feminist but seems to have drunk ALL the kool-aid), and one with a married woman my age (25).
    and I was so flabbergasted at their insistence that contraception, as a rule, should be avoided, and that sex is better without it, and that you shouldn’t tamper with nature, and always be “open to life”… which is great if they want to! or, if the one wants to since the other’s taken a vow of celibacy. like, great! way to go on choosing your choice! but this idea that somehow I am infringing on their beliefs by my own contraceptive choices is ridiculous. or that somehow I must be mistaken or deluded if I am thankful for contraception and the good it is and does in my life and in the lives of the majority of women I know.

    and oh my goodness the priest ex. like, I don’t even. the more he talks about how “at seminary we talk about contraception a lot! it’s a pretty hot topic.” and I’m like you’re all dudes who have chosen to be celibate… it’s like the disconnect doesn’t even occur to them, that basically all of the people in the Catholic church who are making decisions about sexual morals are celibate people.  I told him, “it’s far too easy to make decisions like this when you’re a dude who will never have sex and never have a family. it’s easy to tell other people to be “open to children” and not interfere with nature or whatever when you don’t have to deal with the practicalities of childbearing or the dangers of pregnancy. I can’t stop being very unsettled by the thought of of men who have willingly removed themselves from sexual involvement or fathering children deciding that they can decide what constitutes good/proper/moral sexual activity. like I said, I have strong opinions about celibacy and the priesthood, but I’m not about to try to influence policy that will no longer allow you to make that choice.” but it all goes in one ear and out the other.

    I keep wanting to pull a Tai and just say “You’re a virgin, who can’t drive.”

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