Women’s healthcare

June 30, 2014

My Facebook feed blew up this morning with news that the Supreme Court ruled that employers no longer have to provide contraception coverage if it goes against their religious beliefs. Basically the Supreme Court has given employers the right to impose their religions on employees, discriminate against women, and deny women medication. This decision is a horrible one that opens the door for many other discriminatory practices and denial of basic healthcare needs under the veil of religious freedom.

I think the first point that should be noted is the fact that employees pay premiums, copays, and deductibles on their employee covered medical care. The importance of this is that women can’t necessarily afford the added expense of having to pay for their own contraception. Healthcare plans are provided to employees for a reason, and should cover such a basic need. These are plans that would otherwise cover contraception if obtained privately, but due to being provided through the employer, the employer’s religious beliefs are imposed. Employees pay for their employer provided healthcare through labor in addition to the premiums, copays, and deductibles.

I also have to wonder how much scope this provides employers. That is, who is considered the employer? Who makes the call on whether contraception is covered or not? Whose religious beliefs are we abiding? The CEO or simply the managers? Women’s healthcare decisions are in the hands of whom? And why does that person decide? If the manager can make the decision, can the CEO or owner override that decision?

Contraception is not just for preventing pregnancy. Many women have other medical reasons for taking it, and it should not be the business of an employer for which reason someone is taking contraception. It’s a privacy issue, and just as employees don’t have to justify needing any other medication, women should not have to justify taking birth control.

Of course, since “religious freedom” is involved, this also opens the door for employers to deny healthcare altogether if their religion prohibits it. Christian Scientists reject modern medicine, so they could, in theory argue that they shouldn’t provide health coverage at all, and, it could potentially go so far as only allowing medical leave if the employee plans to pray and not obtain a doctor’s care.

Further, if employers are still allowing coverage for prenatal care and birthing, they are discriminating against certain women who, again, may need birth control for medical reasons, which, again, is none of the employer’s business. If they allow coverage for vasectomy or even Viagra, they are discriminating against women because they are allowing for healthcare based on sexual choice for men, but not for women.

 

I am very saddened by this Supreme Court decision, and I would urge President Obama to follow through by offering a free, supplemental coverage for contraception for women affected ( some states have this, but others do not and their qualifications vary).

 

I am a gun owner and have a concealed handgun license, and so I often read blogs and Facebook groups for female gun owners, because hey, women need visibility in the pro-gun community, especially so that products (holsters, range bags, concealed carry purses) can be made for women. One common theme I see in such communities is the concept of “refusing to be a victim.” Now, I take issue with this idea. Yes, I have a gun for self defense. But to say I keep it because I refuse to be a victim rubs me the wrong way.

For one, it’s implying that women who don’t choose to carry or own a gun or other kind of weapon are choosing to potentially be victims. It’s kind of a roundabout way of victim blaming, and that’s not okay. No one chooses to be a victim, whether they fight back to comply. Whatever they do, they are doing what they think at the time will cause them the least amount of harm (physical or emotional). I was manipulated into compliant victimization, and of course I didn’t choose to be a victim, quite the opposite, actually. I refused to accept that what happened to be was rape, and to the detriment of my mental health. I started experiencing symptoms of PTSD two years after the fact because of my denial of what happened to me.

Second, it’s assuming that a gun is a fail safe against being attacked. It’s not. Even with training, there is no guarantee that you will be able to draw and fire your gun in time. There is no guarantee your weapon won’t be taken from you. It’s one of the risks of carrying a gun.

 

I carry a gun in the hope that it can help protect me from being assaulted if someone tries it. But I do not delude myself into thinking I will 100% be able to stop an attack if it happens. I choose to carry because it makes me feel a littler safer knowing I have something that may be able to be used to defend myself. I really hope I never have to use it. But if I do, it’s nice to have a feeling that I can try to stop it. This does not mean that women who choose not to carry choose to be victims. It does not mean that women who choose not to carry cannot defend themselves in other ways. It absolutely does not mean I am guaranteed to successfully defend myself against an attack, it just betters my odds slightly. There are still risks to gun ownership, and it’s important to consider these risks when choosing a firearm for self defense.

Of course, the idea that any woman should feel like she has to take measures to prevent her own assault is another issue entirely, but that’s for another post.