I am mad.
I am a real, proper mad, which doesn’t happen very often. To piss me off, you have to do something pretty heinous, like say something nasty about my little brother or engage in animal abuse. But although I don’t get mad very often, when I do? It’s a bit scary. One time I punched a hole in my bedroom wall. I have pictures if you don’t believe me.
But that’s not the point. The point is that I have had it up to here with the contraception debate currently raging in Washington. I always hesitate when going on political rants, and I have tried to hold back recently. I shook my head in disgust when the congressional hearing on birth control didn’t include any women. I marveled at how prohibiting employers from denying to cover contraception was a violation of religious freedom.
But then Rush Limbaugh spoke up, and I lost it. Sandra Fluke, a Georgetown law student, was supposed to speak at the congressional hearing. She intended to take a primarily medical view on the debate, including an anecdote about a friend who needed contraception to prevent the growth of cysts. She was not allowed to speak. Yesterday, while discussing Fluke, Rush Limbaugh said she was a “slut.”
"What does it say about the college co-ed Susan Fluke [sic] who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex — what does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex. She’s having so much sex she can’t afford the contraception. She wants you and me and the taxpayers to pay her to have sex."
Looking beyond Rush Limbaugh’s proclivity to idiotic comments, it’s an interesting look into the contraception debate. The truth is that if Fluke had been a man, the question of her own sexuality would not have even entered the conversation, but because she was a woman speaking up in favor of contraception, it was assumed she was a promiscuous harlot. If women had been allowed to testify at the congressional hearings, their testimonies would probably have been ignored in lieu of attacks on their moral character.
The contraception debate is getting ugly, and I’m getting more and more frustrated. The SNL weekend update with Seth Meyers and Amy Poehler was a hilarious yet frighteningly accurate response. Meyers kicked it off by saying:
"The congressional hearing, held to debate Obama’s birth control mandate, was criticized for not including any women… Though that makes sense once you learn that the hearing was held in the congressional tree house."
Amy Poehler then showed up as a guest star, and her comments on the “Really?!?” segment were flawless.
"Really? Really, Congress? You held a congressional committee on reproductive rights and you did not invite any women? Really? That would be like not inviting any men to a congressional committee debating the Maxim Top 100."
Poehler closed the segment by pointing defiantly at the camera and yelling, “Don’t tell me what to do!” Cheers to that, Amy.
I’m baffled as to how this is a question of religious liberty. The Blunt amendment currently floating around Congress is sponsored by my own senator, Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), and if enacted, it would allow employers to refuse to cover certain kinds of health care based on religious or moral convictions. The funny thing is that this has never before been an issue, as Christian Scientist employers, for example, have never been allowed to refuse to cover their employees’ medication on the basis of religious liberty. This is not a question of religious liberty but a thinly-veiled attack on contraception. I can only quote Jon Stewart, who said on Feb. 13, “You’ve confused the war on your religion with not always getting everything you want. It’s called being a part of society.”
(As a side note, don’t even get me started on Sen. Blunt. For a guy so concerned about First Amendment freedoms, he seems quite eager to constitutionally prohibit flag desecration and constitutionally allow school prayer. He’s also got an abominable record when it comes to the environment and gay rights, but that’s a blog post for another time.)
One of the things that has routinely amazed me about the debate is the complete non-importance put on contraception’s health benefits. A November study revealed that almost 60 percent of American women use birth control pills for purposes other than pregnancy prevention. I have a very close friend who has suffered from ovarian cysts for much of her life, and she was recently told she has an ovarian tumor which needs to be removed with surgery. Like Fluke’s friend, she relies on birth control pills to prevent the development of future ovarian cysts. It’s not an invitation to have wild sex; it’s a medical necessity.
A few days ago, the hashtag #Its2012WhyYouStill was trending on Twitter. Ignoring the grammatical error and its proof of humanity’s further descent into anarchy, I couldn’t help but think, it’s 2012. Why are we still debating birth control? It’s time to give women control of their own health. It is not your First Amendment right to impose your religious beliefs upon others.