The War on Women: Accommodation and Compromise? Medical Care is a Right, not a Privilege

Good Morning

I spent most of the day Saturday reading items about Friday’s contraception Accommodation and Compromise announced in a press conference by President Obama. I’ve also spent the day procrastinating about having to write this post, and I will tell you why.

The decision to offer no cost birth control by making the insurance companies pay for the coverage is fabulous. I applaud the move, and it is good for women.

However, my feelings about this are conflicted and convoluted.  I do not feel this “solution” is something that should be seen as a slam dunk for Obama and for women. And because I am filled with emotions that go against the majority of women and women’s groups who are praising  Obama and this accommodation and compromise as some kind of major win for women’s rights, getting these words on paper… …or in this case on the blog, have been intimidating.

Let’s just start with a quote from Kevin Drum, I really don’t always agree with the man, and I can’t stand those cat blog post of his, but this post he wrote prior to the announcement about the compromise really makes a point. Why I’m Feeling So Hard-Nosed Over the Contraception Affair .  I would like you to read the entire post, but I want to highlight a couple of paragraphs.

Some matters of conscience are worth respecting and some aren’t. If, say, Catholic doctrine forbade white doctors from treating black patients, nobody would be defending them. The principle of racial nondiscrimination is simply too important to American culture and we’d insist that the church respect this. I think the same is true today of the principle of nondiscrimination against women, as well as the principle that women should have control of their own reproduction. Like racial discrimination laws, churches that operate major institutions in the public square have to respect this whether they like it or not.

Exactly…Drum goes on to say,

This new policy doesn’t apply to churches themselves or their devotional arms. It applies only to nominally religious enterprises like hospitals and universities that serve secular purposes, take taxpayer dollars, employ thousands of non-Catholic women, and are already required to obey a wide variety of secular regulations. At organizations like these, the money that pays for employee health care doesn’t come from the church, it comes out of the income stream they get from their customers and clients.

What’s more, this is hardly a unique matter of conscience. Anyone who pays taxes, including Catholic bishops, ends up financially supporting things they disapprove of. Public regulations often involve financial commitments too, and this one is no different. It’s also pretty minuscule. This is an issue that’s very clearly being blown up for partisan political reasons far beyond its actual impact on religious organizations or religious conscience.

So… I want to preface my post today with the explicit announcement that I am writing my own feelings and opinions about the accommodation. As you read the words below, remember that this opinion comes from my own personal experiences that have shaped my views on women’s reproductive health.

Perhaps I should just give a little bit of information and background. Yes, it is personal. Yes, it is my own god damn business. Yes, it will be TMI…and dammit, that the religious right is forcing itself into my privacy is beyond comprehension to me.

Here it goes…

My reproductive health has given me problems since the day I got my first period. Migraines, heavy flow, painful cramps, extreme moods, breast lumps, ovarian cyst, hormone problems, infertility, low progesterone levels, high risk pregnancy, epilepsy, miscarriage, ectopic pregnancy, pre-term labor, pre-term births, cesareans, uterine biopsies, breast biopsies, precancerous breast tumors, precancerous ovarian tumors the size of grapefruits, anemia, periods that last over 30 days, severe bleeding, lemon sized blood clots…do I really need to go on?

Why do I bring these personal, very personal, details out in the open? Because, everything I have ever experienced in my reproductive life would be controlled by the decisions and hypocritical beliefs of religious right extremist who would make healthcare treatments a privilege and not a right.  (And I want to specifically say, I am also talking about life and death healthcare treatment.)

At some point the craziness has to come to an end. At some point, these religious assholes need to shut the fuck up.  At some point the loud enormous praise for standing up and protecting my rights and the rights of millions of women and girls should be silenced. At some point, women need to say no…this is about our rights as human beings…there is a simple answer to all the shit.

Just do what is right.

I know many have read my comment on Dakinikat’s post Friday. Some may have missed it, so I will just copy part of it here:

I still feel slighted. Women’s reproductive healthcare is a right not a privilege.

Should I feel fortunate and thankful that my husband does not beat the shit out of me?

No, that is the way it should be…it is a woman’s right to be treated with respect, and to not be physically, sexually or mentally abused by anyone.

Should I feel fortunate and thankful that Obama has made it possible for women to get affordable or free birth control if their employers will not pay for it?

No, because it is a woman’s right to have access to medical care, whether or not someone else “believes” in it or not.

That may be a bit of a strong comparison, but I am trying to prove my point.

I am going to take this a step further…

Remember the example from Kevin Drum? Should African Americans be denied medical care because of their race?  No, because it is their right to be treated equally and not be discriminated against.

We could list many examples of discrimination…or examples of human rights…but the focus is on this:

Should women be discriminated against by their employers denying insurance coverage of essential reproductive healthcare and treatments and birth control?

Because that is what this is about.

As Dakinikat has discussed…the legality of such a move by the Catholic Church, to deny healthcare coverage to women who work for their religious affiliated organizations is not in question here.

From the ACLU website:

For days now, the bishops and some other religious leaders have been claiming that their religious liberty is under attack. Let’s be clear: it isn’t. The bishops have been trying to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against the female employees of religiously-affiliated organizations like universities and hospitals. While everyone has a right to their beliefs, the promise of religious liberty in this country doesn’t create a blanket right to deny critical health care to the female nurses, custodians, and administrators that work for these organizations. While the original policy was constitutional and already in place in many states, this compromise allows women to receive the care they need at an affordable price, while signaling that this administration is open to the concerns of the bishops and others.

Many hospitals and universities were offering birth control in their insurance plans already. There is no, absolutely no encroachments on religious liberty within the Obama mandate requiring birth control coverage.

The idea that all employers should have the right to deny health care coverage to employers is out-of-step with public opinion and is unconstitutional. Recent polling shows that a majority of Americans agree that “employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost.” Further, the Supreme Court long ago explained that excusing individuals or institutions from neutral and generally applicable laws would devolve into a system “in which each conscience is a law unto itself.”

In coming days, on the talking heads shows and in the press, we fear you will see the bishops and others saying that they don’t even want insurance companies reaching out to their employees about birth control. You may hear them say that people of faith are under attack. But they will be wrong. Real religious freedom gives everyone the right to make personal decisions, including whether and when to use birth control, based on their own beliefs. It doesn’t give one group the right to impose its beliefs on others.

Obama should have come out and said, “no compromise” to the Catholic Paternal Order…

Obama should have stood firm and supported the rights that have already been granted to women so many years ago.  Most of Obama’s “Controversial” Birth Control Rule Was Law During Bush Years

…the central mandate—that most employers have to cover preventative care for women—has been law for over a decade. This point has been completely lost in the current controversy, as Republican presidential candidates and social conservatives claim that Obama has launched a war on religious liberty and the Catholic Church.

Despite the longstanding precedent, “no one screamed” until now, said Sara Rosenbaum, a health law expert at George Washington University.

In December 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that companies that provided prescription drugs to their employees but didn’t provide birth control were in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex. That opinion, which the George W. Bush administration did nothing to alter or withdraw when it took office the next month, is still in effect today—and because it relies on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. Employers that don’t offer prescription coverage or don’t offer insurance at all are exempt, because they treat men and women equally—but under the EEOC’s interpretation of the law, you can’t offer other preventative care coverage without offering birth control coverage, too.

“It was, we thought at the time, a fairly straightforward application of Title VII principles,” a top former EEOC official who was involved in the decision told Mother Jones. “All of these plans covered Viagra immediately, without thinking, and they were still declining to cover prescription contraceptives. It’s a little bit jaw-dropping to see what is going on now…There was some press at the time but we issued guidances that were far, far more controversial.”

After the EEOC opinion was approved in 2000, reproductive rights groups and employees who wanted birth control access sued employers that refused to comply. The next year, in Erickson v. Bartell Drug Co., a federal court agreed with the EEOC’s reasoning. Reproductive rights groups and others used that decision as leverage to force other companies to settle lawsuits and agree to change their insurance plans to include birth control. Some subsequent court decisions echoed Erickson, and some went the other way, but the rule (absent a Supreme Court decision) remained, and over the following decade, the percentage of employer-based plans offering contraceptive coverage tripled to 90 percent.

“We have used [the EEOC ruling] many times in negotiating with various employers,” says Judy Waxman, the vice president for health and reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center. “It has been in active use all this time. [President Obama's] policy is only new in the sense that it covers employers with less than 15 employees and with no copay for the individual. The basic rule has been in place since 2000.”

Not even religious employers were exempt from the impact of the EEOC decision. Although Title VII allows religious institutions to discriminate on religious grounds, it doesn’t allow them to discriminate on the basis of sex—the kind of discrimination at issue in the EEOC ruling. DePaul University, the largest Roman Catholic university in America, added birth control coverage to its plans after receiving an EEOC complaint several years ago. (DePaul officials did not respond to a request for comment.)

As recently as last year, the EEOC was moderating a dispute between the administrators of Belmont Abbey, a Catholic institution in North Carolina, and several of its employees who had their birth control coverage withdrawn after administrators realized it was being offered.

Obama should have demanded the Church follow the EEOC laws upheld by the Supreme Court regarding employers, employment and employee’s rights.

He did not do that.

Remarks by the President on Preventive Care | The White House

Now, as we move to implement this rule, however, we’ve been mindful that there’s another principle at stake here –- and that’s the principle of religious liberty, an inalienable right that is enshrined in our Constitution.  As a citizen and as a Christian, I cherish this right.

[…]

This is an issue where people of goodwill on both sides of the debate have been sorting through some very complicated questions to find a solution that works for everyone. With today’s announcement, we’ve done that.  Religious liberty will be protected, and a law that requires free preventive care will not discriminate against women.

He came out and justified the smoke and mirror show put on by the Catholic Church, which was also adopted as a cause celebre by the GOP and the religious right. He formally addressed the issue as a principle of religious liberty. Furthermore, he labeled the accommodation’s change in policy as a response to protecting religious liberty .

No. No. And. No.

By doing this, it gives credence to the religious asses who know full well this is not a question of religious liberty…it is a question of control and domination over the female sex. It is the same old thing, women are second class citizens and do not deserve to be treated equally.

So, should I be shoveling praise on Obama and his administration for finding a “technical accounting provision” that “gives” us something that was our right anyway? No, he does not deserve it, in fact…I think he made the situation worse by officially addressing the religion issue, and making the accommodation so that religious affiliations can object to providing women birth control because of religious conscience. It is going to make our battle against these incredibly crafty and conniving and cruel religious right/GOP Conservatives even more difficult.

Now we have an extra step involved in getting the medical treatments we already have a right to. Like everything else, we are yet again pushed into jumping through more bureaucratic hoops, simply because we are women.

And how will this compromise affect other areas of women’s reproductive healthcare. I’m going to use my own personal medical history as an example of where this Obama fumble can lead us.

I mentioned my ectopic pregnancy. Well, mine was located up near the opening of the fallopian tube. Because of this, the pregnancy was going along normally. All my blood test showed a rise in the HCG hormones, I was even showing and feeling movement. There was no pain. There was no symptoms of an ectopic pregnancy. I was 17 weeks, already into my second trimester, when my first routine ultrasound was given.

It took a week to get the full diagnosis. I was scheduled for laparoscopic surgery and required three days hospitalization. I remember waking up in recovery, with the salt stains from my tears encrusted down my face. My tube was saved…My life was saved. The doctor told me everything was developing fine, it was perfect, it was a boy, it was just in the wrong place.

A year later I became pregnant with my son and when I was admitted to the same hospital for pre-term labor at 13 weeks, I found out that the hospital had been bought out by a Catholic organization. They no longer performed the procedure I’d had a year earlier, which by the way, saved my life. If the church had run the hospital when I suffered from the ectopic pregnancy,  I would have had to wait until the pregnancy progressed to the point of bursting my fallopian tube and damaging my uterus. It would have been only then, that the hospital could remove the perfectly growing fetus from my body…you see, it would have been against the church’s religious conscience to approve the surgery until my health deteriorated to the point of risking my life.

Do you see where my rights to adequate and timely medical care would be violated? They would wait and put my life in jeopardy just to avoid aborting the fetus.

My doctor was able to perform the “abortion” on my ectopic pregnancy before the fetus grew large enough to tear my fallopian tube away from my uterus. If this ectopic pregnancy had occurred a year later, he would have had to wait until my conditioned worsened…which means I would have risked losing way more than the pregnancy itself. Because my doctor was able to remove the fetus when he did, he was able to save my tube, my uterus and my ability to get pregnant and have a child.

What would be the hospital’s reasons for not performing the surgery until the woman’s life is in danger?

Religious Conscience and Religious Liberty.

It is this kind of sick, twisted, disgusting, cruel, inhumane domination and control that disguises itself as devoutly adhering to one’s religious beliefs.

I want to quote this article written by Pace University Professor, Bennett L. Gershman.  It reiterates the opinion that Obama had no reason to accommodate and compromise with the Catholic Church in the first place.

The hysterical arguments by officials of the Catholic Church (and mimicked by their Republican water carriers) about being forced to abdicate their conscientious religious beliefs to accommodate women who seek to obtain contraceptive devices is reminiscent of the moronic arguments about “Death Panels” for elderly under Obama’s health care legislation, Obama’s birth place, and, for some fanatics, his Muslimness. These are the kinds of phony arguments that appeal to a segment of the population that H.L. Mencken famously described as the Booboisie. From a constitutional standpoint, the church’s claim that its free exercise of religion is being subverted is fallacious and demagogic. One hopes that the Obama administration will refuse to back down in the face of these bullying tactics, and will stick to its sound and fair policy of requiring all health providers — including hospitals and universities affiliated with the Catholic Church, to provide insurance coverage for women who practice birth control, that is, for the 98 percent of Catholic women in America who use some form of contraception.

The argument made by these alleged conscience-stricken church officials is phony. The following are only a handful of the numerous instances in which the Supreme Court and lower courts have ruled that claims of religious freedom and conscience do not override important public policies: the court upheld the power of the Air Force to forbid one of its personnel from wearing a yarmulke while in uniform; upheld the statutory authority of the Internal Revenue Service to deny tax-exempt status to religious institutions that engage in racial discrimination; permitted timber harvesting and the construction of a road through a portion of a national forest used for religious worship by members of three Native American tribes; prevented prisoners from exercising their religious beliefs to attend a Friday Muslim congregational service; denied unemployment benefits to persons dismissed from their state jobs because they used a sacramental narcotic substance in their ceremonial church service; and upheld the suspension from a public school of Native American students who sought to wear their hair in long traditional braids in violation of a school hair-length policy.

Government bodies in all of these cases rejected claims of religious freedom and conscience because an important public policy was deemed to override the individual claims of conscience and religious liberty. But there is no suggestion in any of these cases that the government was hostile to religion or particular religious beliefs, was targeting for invidious motives any particular religion or the freedom of people to worship, or was discriminating against any religion. To be sure, if government is seen to discriminate against religion because of its hostility to that religion — as was the case in a Florida community which banned the religious practice of Santeria which involved the ritual sacrifice of animals — then the government would be acting unconstitutionally.

But there is no question that the Obama administration’s policy to require religious institutions to provide insurance coverage for contraception does not discriminate against any religion, and serves an important, even compelling public policy. That the Catholic Church is aggrieved by the law’s application is no different than the grievances felt by those persons in the above examples who were prevented from freely practicing their faith. Indeed, nobody in the current controversy is being prevented from practicing their faith. No woman is being prevented from using, or not using, birth control. There has to be a fair and balanced accommodation between religious conscience and public policy, and that appears to be the way this regulation is written.

When officials of the Catholic Church resort to claims of conscience, they are not referring to the conscience of the women who seek insurance coverage for birth control; they are referring to their own stricken conscience, and how their own conscience is being adversely impacted by this regulation. But in seeking to curtail the right of thousands of female employees to receive insurance coverage, they are engaging in an obvious and blatant kind of bullying. Indeed, permitting the Catholic Church to deny insurance coverage to its more than 750,000 employees would effectively eviscerate the regulation. But, as noted, the First Amendment’s guarantee of religious freedom, albeit a majestic protection, doesn’t extend that far.

So, Obama gives in to the “hysterical arguments” of the Catholic Church, and by extension the GOP and religious right. He sets a precedent for religious affiliated organizations to use religious liberty and religious conscience as an exemption against providing birth control to women employees.

Who is to say they cannot take this new “accommodation” further and say no…they will not pay for insurance coverage for medical treatments like the ectopic condition I had.  They would then be holding the health of a woman hostage.

Would the insurance companies cover the policy expenses involving the surgery and hospital stay required in a situation like mine?

If the insurance company would not pay for the coverage, then are women forced into waiting for healthcare and treatment that is their right to receive?

At what point do our rights as women and citizens and human beings trump the false claim of religious conscience and religious liberty?

Should I praise this accommodation and compromise as a win-win solution?

Should I treat the change in religious conscience exemptions like some brilliant tactical move made by Obama to ensure women get birth control?

Once again, women are expected to bow down and be so appreciative of the men who allow them to enjoy the rights of being a person…oh yes, they are allowing us to have medical treatments that not only prevent pregnancy, but allow women control over their own bodies.  Prescription Birth Control is more than just an elective treatment to avoid getting pregnant while having sex. Women use it for prevention and legitimate health matters.

Again, I use my own personal example. Not only do I use birth control pills for regulating my periods, but being an epileptic, I could not risk the  chance of getting pregnant while I was on Depokote, my anti-seizure medication. This would have caused serious birth defects. So…preventing a pregnancy becomes a matter of preventing a more serious and dangerous health situation from occurring.

Access to proper and prompt medical treatment is a right and not a privilege.

Why should I be grateful to Obama for ensuring my welfare and my medical needs when religious affiliated organizations claim religious liberty and deny women medical coverage?

Why should I grovel at Obama’s feet in gratitude for something that is a right, and not a privilege?

I am waiting to see what this compromise means and how this accommodation is going to work. I want to see what kind of stance the Catholic Church takes on the accommodation. I want to wait and see how the insurance companies will logistically carry out the exemption’s requirements for providing birth control to women that work for religious affiliated hospitals and organizations, because it needs to be seamless.

And so as usual, we wait…and wait…and wait to see what we will finally get out of all this.

I am sick of waiting for women to be afforded the same rights as men. I am sick of waiting for someone to stand up for our rights. I am sick of this religious right’s war against women.

I am not just sick… I’m mad.

No…hold on a minute, mad? No, that is not right. I am frustrated…yeah that is it, but…I’m relieved at the same time.

And this is exactly where the conflict comes in that makes my thoughts twist into a jumbled mass of emotions. That make me doubt myself. That make me skeptical of anything and everything these days.

That I am even having this internal struggle that becomes physically transparent in the pit of my stomach, is the source of my procrastination that eats away at my thoughts about the Accommodation and Compromise and Women’s Rights in general.

Women are getting the contraception coverage. Good…but it is something we deserved in the first place.

This latest accommodation is only a stalemate, a half-win in this underlying fundamental issue that is at the heart of this war on women.

Women’s rights are treated like a game of cat and mouse.

Doesn’t it make you feel that it is all an illusion, and that we may never truly win the game.


116 Comments on “The War on Women: Accommodation and Compromise? Medical Care is a Right, not a Privilege”

  1. Minkoff Minx says:

    Just a little note…I will post a Sunday Reads sometime later this afternoon…I felt so strongly about this post that I wanted it to get your full attention. Thank you!

    • dakinikat says:

      Powerful post minx. I refused to have my youngest at the catholic hospital that was our sole option under our mutual of Omaha insurance. The company is basically run by Catholics. I told my husband we were going to deliver my high risk pregnancy at Methodist if we had to go broke paying for it. We got a waiver and Emily was born premature but very healthy with a nice Jewish specialist in high risk pregnancies who doctor daughter now works with all the time. Your experiences sound awful. It used to be the doctors at those hospitals that made the decisions. No more. That sisters of mercy hospital is now a privately owned one so it is no longer catholic affiliated. There aren’t enough sisters of mercy left any more for even a bridge party let alone all the schools and hospitals they used to run.

      Btw … I don’t think we should be grateful at all for this policy. I think relieved is more how I felt because I figured they would cave and they didn’t. I was glad the speech on Friday said that women should have access to all preventive health care including birth control. I could have down without the nod to religious beliefs at the end but politics is what it is.

      I am less disturbed with Obama’s response to this than I am by the media response and to the responses from Kerry, biden and even panetta. The press asked men two to one what their opinions were. Tweetie once again showed his issues with women. That was the crap that really had me seeing red. I am just happy that all those women will get access to birth control with no copay. This is significant.

        • dakinikat says:

          That’s the part of all of this that really disgusted me. The press response was biased, uninformed, and misogynistic. The other thing that REALLY bothered me was that I now know there’s an Catholic prep school Old Boy network in the Washington DC Democrats. I am sorry I ever voted for Bob Kerry and Joe Biden can kiss my ass. I can’t believe Panetta even got asked his opinion. WTF? Why would his opinion even matter?

      • bostonboomer says:

        As far as I can tell, the pundits are still treating this like a religious freedom issue, and lots of them seem to think that Obama completely caved. The media may be a bigger hurdle for women than politicians. At least politicians have to try to get votes.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        That the press refused to make women the main part of the discussion bothers me too. But they were not elected to speak for me and to represent me in government policy.

        That is why the politicians (like you said about Kerry and Biden et al) really pissed me off…
        They are the ones who need to STFU and do what is right.

      • Minkoff Minx says:

        Thanks Dak…Funny that you mention going to a Methodist hospital at all cost. I was the opposite. I would have followed my doctor were ever he practiced. I lived in Orlando when I finally had the kids, and my doctor was in Tampa. It was a 6 year ordeal when it was all said and done. Insurance would not cover all of it and the doctor just wrote off the 78,000 for my son and 50,000 for my daughter that insurance would not pay.

        Of course, the hospital would not give a break on their bills, and it was years before that was paid off.

        • dakinikat says:

          I’m paying for my hospital stay from April. There was a lot my insurance company wouldn’t pay (student health plan) but my hospital really discounted the bill for me. Compared to what I owed, it’s much better. I’m in the medicaid system right now but they won’t pay for me. I only have access to the public health systems on a pay as you can basis. I’m praying I don’t have to pull from my retirement funds again because I don’t have as much as I need. I’ve got to find a decent tenured position and the market right now is filled with people looking for good jobs because states like mine are screwing over their higher ed functions and there’s a build up of candidates from the bad job markets. It’s frustrating. I’m about at the end of my rope. I’ve been applying to Canadian Universities.

          • Minkoff Minx says:

            Wow, I was wondering how the job hunt was going. The ripple effect from all this idiot backward conservative brainwashing is far reaching indeed. And all that stress does not help you health situation either. I am so discouraged with the way we are being sent back in time by these religious nitwits. And even when great strides are made, and companies change the way we look and interact with new technology (thinking facebook and twitter) the female voice is trampled on in the same disdain that our grandmothers and great grandmothers experienced in their day. It is sad. I wish sometimes I could be oblivious to it, but I can’t.

      • janicen says:

        BB, the link,In Birth Control Debate, Cable News Disproportionately Asked Men What They Thought of Women’s Health really pissed me off, but it reveals the prevailing attitudes about women’s health in this country.

        dak, in my own experience, I have to confess to being somewhat confused about Catholic hospitals. While visiting from another state, an elderly relative had a massive heart attack in my home. Even though there was a former EMT present and compressions were begun immediately, it took until the ambulance arrived and over thirty minutes to get her heart started up again. I don’t need to tell anyone here that there was very little brain activity after all of that. She was transported to the nearest hospital, once they got her heart started, which also happened to be a Catholic hospital. I have to say, once it was medically determined that there was little brain activity and that there would be no quality of life if her life was artificially sustained, the designated family member told the hospital to remove life support, which they did, and about a week later, she died. I was surprised that there was no pushback or resistance. The people there were sensitive and comforting, but medical professionals all the way. I guess I expected some kind of Terri Schiavo scene that never happened.

        • Minkoff Minx says:

          At least you had a sensitive and understanding experience with your relative. I think we all have some positive interactions with religious based hospitals…and that is where the hesitation comes in. (at least it is in my opinion of faith based initiatives)

          However, there is a double standard when it comes to the “PLUB” way of picking and choosing who they will use and exploit to further their cause.

          Like I said in the post above, they are very cunning in the way they manipulate the situation to their advantage. And part of that is their keen sense of choosing who or what cause they will champion.

        • dakinikat says:

          I think a lot of it depends on who is really in charge at the hospital. I’ve noticed that in schools. The Jesuit schools can ignore the local bishop and diocese because of the historical relationship between the pope at that order. So, Loyola puts on the Vagina Monologues every year, the bishop rants and rails against it and every one laughs at them. However, the other Catholic universities and colleges that answer to the diocese can’t do that. They get run over all the time. I’m not a Catholic but nearly every one of my besties has referred to themselves as “recovering” Catholics so I’ve heard stories all my life. One of my best friends is an ex Mercy nun. It seems to be dependent on local parish/diocese politics as much as anything. The other thing I found out during all this abuse stuff is that the parishes have to send money to Rome but Rome has no obligation to them whatsoever and is completely removed from their financing so that if you see a parish or a diocese, you can NEVER get to Rome. Also, Rome won’t bail any of them out at all.

      • janicen says:

        I think my point is that some of these institutions keep insisting on strict adherence to doctrine that, in reality and in real life, very few people actually practice, even within the institutions themselves. Hence, you have the Catholic church raving about birth control when 98 percent of practicing Catholics admit to having used birth control themselves. WTF?

  2. Pat Johnson says:

    Excellent, excellent post, Mink. Your words eloquently express the frustration felt by so many of us who see this issue as just another loop in the yoke that seeks to bind us.

    Listening to the GOP candidates openly declare a “war on women” with their pretend advocacy for “religious freedom” is disgraceful. Their fascist behavior in some states have limited healthcare for women in those smaller districts to the point that it is almost criminal.

    The Church and the rest of these fundie lunatics are inserting superstitious mumbo jumbo, along with delusional thinking, into the public square without regard to the damage that emerges from these insane theories that have no basis in fact.

    These fools have difficulty understanding that their wishes and behavior are no different than what is imposed on women in far off countries living under the yoke of oppression based on the same superstitions declared by men.

    Ignorance has been “blessed” by these actions being imposed and denied by hateful groups of fanaticists, aided and abetted by those who should know better.

    It is a creeping form of fascism that cannot be swept under the rug by proclaiming “religion” as the foundation. What also cannot be denied that these groups will work their way through more and more discrimination once given the opportunity.

    It seems to be working.

    • dakinikat says:

      I wish they would get rid of that damned consciousness clause for the pill pushers. They shouldn’t have any say in anything. Nurses with issues should be banned from working in key areas. If you can’t leave your superstitions away from other people you are not in medical science. You are in voodoo.

      • NW Luna says:

        Exactly! In any other field an employee would be fired for not doing the job. I’d love to not deal with fundamentalist males, for example, but I work in healthcare, which I believe is a right, not a privilege. So I provide care to everyone I see in my practice.

        • dakinikat says:

          When my daughter was a fourth year medical student doing a rotation up in Michigan, she was at a hospital where a woman came in septic from an abortion. The resident walked out of the room and refused to have anything to do with her. This was an ob/gyn resident btw. My daughter and the nurse had to take care of her. No one with those kinds of beliefs should be allowed near pregnant women. If they can’t follow their oaths to save lives then they need to find another specialty. She’s had nurses refuse to do sterilization surgeries, etc. too. I have no idea why they get into specialties like that if they won’t do their jobs.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Pat, I admire you comments and views so much. You have no idea how good your praise makes me feel. Thank you.

  3. The Rock says:

    Obama should have demanded the Church follow the EEOC laws upheld by the Supreme Court regarding employers, employment and employee’s rights.

    There is no way to agree with you more Minx. First off, the characterization that women will get FREE birth control is completely wrong. It is a part of the insurance package. Employers pay for some. Employees pay for some. Period. The ability to have access to birth control is not like getting a face lift.

    Remember the example from Kevin Drum? Should African Americans be denied medical care because of their race? No, because it is their right to be treated equally and not be discriminated against.

    One of the reason that I am a ride or die Hillary fan is because she has made it painstakingly clear for her entire career – healthcare is a right, not a priviledge. Birth control is an aspect of general healthcare. To deny someone that for any reason, religious or otherwise, is wrong. The remarks from the leadership should relfect that position, and in this case, they don’t.

    We have come to expect so little from this president that when he does anything, the natural tendency is to look for the silver lining. It doesn’t exist here.

    Kudos Minx. I couldn’t agree with you more. Kudos.

    Hillary 2012

    • Pat Johnson says:

      It just seems to me that women are getting fed up with having to bargain, beg, and beseech just to maintain their automony in the matter of decision making with regard to healthcare.

      Denying women their rights goes further than just women alone. It effects all aspects of their lives including those of their families.

      Following religious doctrine is also a matter of choice. Agree with the Catholic Church, fine, but do not allow any religious institution to impose their own doctrine in regard to a woman’s access to healthcare.

      Keep religion in the pulpit but get it out of my uterus. A line must be drawn before we all are subjected to a return to the Dark Ages.

    • dakinikat says:

      Women in Medicaid an Medicare get it free. The copays on drugs can be awful. I have had copays in the hundreds of dollars and have had to pay for drugs altogether when a drug is not on the formulary. Some pills work better than others for women and having a pill off the formulary can create a staggering cost. So no copay ever is a big deal.

    • dakinikat says:

      I see health care as an obligation a society makes to all of its citizens. Like Public Education and National Defense and Bridges and Roads. I don’t think we’ll ever get the USA to recognize it in the category of right.

      • ralphb says:

        Health care is absolutely not a right in the US, except in the case dire emergency. Of course it should be a right. I want to thank you a lot for living in the reality-based community.

        • Minkoff Minx says:

          Health care seems to have always been seen as a privilege for those who have the means to get it. And you are right Ralph we are far from living in a society that sees it healthcare as a right. But the bottom line is healthcare is a right…and no one should be discriminated against because of some employers or doctors or pharmacist or nurses, etc. “religious” or bigoted or sexist or homophobic or racist beliefs. Period.

      • ralphb says:

        No. The bottom line is that right now health care is not a right in the US. That’s just reality and we shouldn’t run and hide from it.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Thank you Rock. I appreciate your support…I wish more men would be as vocal about women’s rights as you and some of our other male readers are. I think it speaks volumes about your character.

  4. Delphyne says:

    Wonderful post, Minx – and I agree with what you have written. Thank you for writing it, thank you for trusting us with such personal information. xo

  5. HT says:

    Minx, delurking – standing on my feet, yelling at the monitor – BRAVA, BRAVA!!! You tell it so well, and thank you for baring your soul – I’m sure most women and the men who truly care have a horror story about the paternalistic mental munchkins have imposed upon them. for example, my first pregnancy I intuitively knew something was wrong. I identified this to the really important person in the obligatory white coat that he recieved upon graduation from obgyn consultants school – another doG is good believer. He ignored my concerns, patted my head, gave me the standard protocol speech about women’s hysterical reactions to hormones, the beauty of giving life, etc ad nauseum and refused to hear my legitimate concerns or read the detailed list of symptoms that prompted my feelings. I gave birth – to conjoined twins that could never live and this brilliant dog fearing dummy (who was also the chief cheese of obsterics and gynocology) sliced through every muscle and fibre in my body to remove them – a scar that rendered me incapable of carrying a child for twenty years because of the internal damage – a scar that extended from the navel down to the pubis and curved around to end at the right side of my pelvis. He did not come to see me until three days later – after it eas the weekend and he was a Deacon, so he had nore important things to attend to – he was RC. would I want him to be anywhere around my daughter, – hell no regardless of his fancy titles. I found out later that this one was a devout RC and would never have investigated through ultrascan and other tests if it meant an abortion, even to save the mother. I was young, stupid and fearful – my mother was ultra religious, my sisters far away – I had no-one. that is not the world I want my daughter and son to live in. My daughter suffers from endometreoses and relies on BC to control some of the symptoms and ease the pain from excrutiating to mind numbing. She has asked for a hysterectomy repeatedly to save her from this – no dice. no doctor will perform that procedure on a child bearing women unless cancer is involved – pressure from the lobby that views women as commodities. she has to get cancer (which is often the case with her issues) before they will honor her wishes. Imagine if she couldn’t have access to BC – the constant pain. anyway, forgive my rambling and my typing (broke shoulder/and upper arm, so I’m a one armed bandit)

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Oh thank you HT, your story touched me so much. And think of all the other women out there who have similar histories…some of them are not around to fight anymore, because of the attitudes you experienced. We sisters have a connection to each other…That some women are just as guilty as the men who perpetuate the anti-woman belief structure is maddening. Yes, there is a special hell for women who do not support other women.

  6. bostonboomer says:

    Thank you for this well written and well thought out post, Minx. I agree with just about everything you wrote.

    Where I differ is that you seem to feel you need to defend yourself for not being “grateful” and “praising” Obama. I don’t feel even the slightest need to be thankful to him. I was very angry that he even mentioned religious freedom in his announcement. I think all of the “conscience rules” are unconstitutional and should be ended immediately. No pharmacist or health worker should be able to refuse to perform a legal service or procedure. If they don’t want to do their jobs they should find other occupations.

    I also think we shouldn’t go to war unless Congress declares it, the Patriot Act should be overturned, and the president shouldn’t have the power to rendition people, assassinate people, and on and on. But I just can’t spend 24 hours, 7 days a week being outraged. I don’t want to have a heart attack and die just yet. I want to live to fight another day. Maybe it’s because I’m so much older than you and have gotten to the point where I both accept reality and don’t want to take shit from anyone. That seemed to start happening after age 50.

    You argue that health care is a right, not a privilege. I agree that it should be a right, but the reality is that it isn’t seen that way in the U.S. yet. We should demand that from our representatives–absolutely. But at the same time, politics is “the art of the possible.”

    Obama did essentially tell the bishops to shove it. He gave them a symbolic “compromise” that really isn’t a compromise at all. The money for employees’ birth control is still going to come from the insurance they have to pay for.

    Although I don’t feel *gratitude* toward Obama, I have to accept the reality that we’re either stuck with him for four more years or with someone far worse. I think I see signs that Obama has grown a bit over the past few months since the debt ceiling fiasco. I’d like to see him develop into a better president. Although I’m not a fan of his, I can’t root for him to fail. I think we need to continue putting pressure on him to do the right thing for women as well as for the economic well being of our country.

    If Obama does something that is useful, I don’t see the value in just dismissing it and saying it’s completely meaningless. The message should be that it’s nice that he symbolically held the line, but he *should* to go further and say that women have the right to control their own bodies period. The fact that he can’t seem to say that is shameful, but sadly, that’s who he is. We’re stuck with him.

    But this is the way it is with every president and in politics. Politics is always about compromise and mostly about incremental change. For years now, the religious right has been winning, and women’s freedom of choice has been reduced, inch by inch, to the point where we are now. This new regulation is a step in the other direction–toward a recognition that women deserve to be treated like adult human beings.

    Unfortunately this is going to be a long battle because of the dark forces within our society represented by people like Rick Santorum–a fairly large minority of people who do not accept science or reason and who are apparently incapable of using logic.

    Sorry this comment is so long, but that’s because your post is so substantive and well argued.

    • janicen says:

      Word. Nobody should be “grateful” for their rights. Rights exist, they cannot be considered a gift from the oppressor to the oppressed. That said, the drumbeat from the right has grown louder and louder when it comes to restricting women’s rights and they are emboldened by a judiciary which seems comfortable with wrong headed decisions like Citizens United. The war on women is ongoing, but we can take a moment to celebrate this win. As well, I don’t give all of the credit to Obama. I give a lot of the credit to people all over this country whose voices were heard loud and clear when it came to Komen and Planned Parenthood. I think the timing of that along with the ferocity of the backlash played a role in convincing people in politics that women’s healthcare is not negotiable and not to be trifled with.

      • bostonboomer says:

        Exactly. I think the outcry against Komen and in favor of Planned Parenthood had to have had an effect on Sibelius and Obama. Occupy has also shifted the entire discussion on the economy. I think we actually have made some progress–though not enough–in the past 6 months or so.

        • dakinikat says:

          I also think that with Obama calling the bishops a bunch of kids having temper tantrums that he’s beginning to realize no amount of compromise on anything is buying him anything. I’m hoping he’ll get over his conflict avoidance behavior and tell more of them off in pressers like that. (Including the damned congressional republicans.)

      • dakinikat says:

        Yup. I also think there are some hard working feminists in the HHS departments. This came out to quickly to be spontaneous policy. It makes me more curious about Sibeilus.

        • dakinikat says:

          “early March 2009, Archbishop Raymond F. Burke prefect for the Apostolic Signatura, the Vatican’s highest court, declared that Sebelius should not approach the altar for Communion in the United States, and he noted that, “after pastoral admonition, she obstinately persists in serious sin”[69] In 2003, 2005, 2006, and again in 2008, Sebelius vetoed legislation that would have limited abortions in Kansas.”

          That’s from her wiki entry. It also says she “staunchly pro choice”. She also was the Kansas Insurance commissioner before becoming governor. She seems like the perfect person to take on the rules righting of the HCRA and this issue. She must have been behind a lot of this.

          More:

          “Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Fred Naumann asked that Sebelius no longer receive Holy Communion because of her position on abortion. Naumann criticized Sebelius for vetoing HS SB 389.[71] The action received mixed reviews in the Catholic press.[72][73][74]“

      • janicen says:

        Interesting info re Sibelius, dak. According to biography.com, she’s as Catholic as one can be…

        Raised Roman Catholic, Kathleen attended Summit Country Day School, a Roman Catholic secondary school. She graduated from Trinity Washington University, a Roman Catholic university in Washington, D.C., with a B.A. degree in 1970. She earned a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from the University of Kansas in 1977.

        I’ll give her special props for taking on the leaders of her own faith.

      • Woman Voter says:

        Kansas City Archbishop Joseph Fred Naumann, should put such high and mighty standard to all the clergy that covered up the child sex abuse cases, as some involved pregnancies and in my state an abortion as one young lady asserted (teen at the time). Set the example, and DON’T receive Holy communion as the cover ups went on for year after year after year.

    • dakinikat says:

      You and I are on the same page with this one. I’m willing to give the devil his due on this one–sans any gratitude–because in all my years of volunteering for planned parenthood and marching for abortion rights I thought I’d never see universal coverage for birth control with no copay. It was probably more the HHS and Sibelius that deserve the credit, but it was under his administration. I still can’t forgive NIXON a bunch of things but that doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate his EPA and work on the environment every waking moment. I remember having my credit taking away when I got married and having my last name changed to my husbands on my social security account by my boss. Nixon and Ford got me standing as an individual for that too.

      • northwestrain says:

        I managed to keep my own last name — but it continues to be a battle.

        There is NO law requiring women to change their name to HIS name when they marry.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Thanks BB…I have some links that I referred to up top. Take a look at some of the comments, you will see the attitude of blind praise for Obama, and the attitude from some that we should be thankful because we don’t deserve the coverage in the first place.

      I guess I should have been more specific when describing the reactions from others to this compromise. I always take a look at the comments on the controversial issues. I know that is doesn’t represent all the public opinion but it does give me an idea of the meme being used and what direction the issue is taking.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I’ve read the comments and I know some people are doing that. But I’m talking about us at Sky Dancing. We aren’t low-information like those other commenters.

        As long as we’re being honest, I’m a little hurt that that’s all you took from my comment. I spent quite a long time thinking about your post and then writing my reactions. I was hoping for something more from you.

        I will get over it soon, of course. But the discussion this week has taken a lot out of me. I guess I’m feeling a bit vulnerable. I’m going to check out of here and work on something else now. I did really admire your post and all the comments.

        • Minkoff Minx says:

          No that wasn’t all I took BB, I don’t want you to feel hurt that I didn’t say more. I was planning on replying back in your email that you had sent me. That way I could use your real name and be more personal with my words…I just had to fix lunch for my dad and brother…they were hungry and I had to stop everything I was in the process of doing to feed them. ;)

      • janicen says:

        One of the reasons this is one of the very few blogs I read or comment on is because this is not one of the “my way or the highway” blogs. People are allowed to post and comment opposing views without fear of the rebukes and name calling I’m seeing on other blogs. I mean really, is it necessary to call names and hurl insults at people who don’t agree with you? Like my dad used to say, if you have to resort to name calling and personal insults, then you have already lost the argument. I’ve scanned around and it’s interesting to note the delays on some of the posts. It almost seems that some blogs wait to get their queues from other blogs. When it comes to comments and commenters, well this blog and Widdershins are the only blogs where I give a shit what is in the comments. On some of the other blogs the comments amount to little more than meaningless background noise.

        • Minkoff Minx says:

          You know Janicen, what you said is very true. I am so proud to be a part of this blog because there is a genuine feeling of give and take when we discuss issues. And I feel so fortunate that we have readers who lurk and readers who comment on the discussion, like you…you all are the ones who form the soul of this blog.

      • janicen says:

        Oh geez, “cues”, not “queues”. I think I need a break too.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      BB @ 9:31 :

      Maybe my defensive feelings about not being grateful to Obama stem from the guilt I feel personally. I guess what I mean by that is that I am glad Obama made this move…it is good for women. I just have this touch of guilt about it. Because I feel what Obama did was not enough. Women and their rights are entitled to more active support. From everyone.

      Does it mean that because I am not giving Obama credit for what he has done, I am somehow not looking out for women’s best interest. I don’t know but that is how I feel.

      (Damn, I just realized that I am reacting the same way to Obama’s actions as my dad usually acts towards me…that nothing I do is good enough.) Maybe I am just taking this thing waaaay to seriously.

      Maybe it’s because I’m so much older than you and have gotten to the point where I both accept reality and don’t want to take shit from anyone. That seemed to start happening after age 50.

      I can’t tell you just how much I look forward to this moment in my life. Where I can honestly accept reality and not take shit from anyone. You are right, medical care is not a right in this country, even though I see it that way…it is difficult to separate the way I feel from the way things really are. I am 41 years old and I still do not get it…I still feel that there are things in this world that should be a “given.” Access to healthcare is one of them, and I am just too hard headed to realize that is not the majority’s opinion.

      Is politics really the art of possible? Because I have become so jaded that I don’t even think it is anymore. At least no until we have more people in government willing to stand up for us.

      Politics is always about compromise and mostly about incremental change. For years now, the religious right has been winning, and women’s freedom of choice has been reduced, inch by inch, to the point where we are now. This new regulation is a step in the other direction–toward a recognition that women deserve to be treated like adult human beings.

      Yes, but it is hard not to get impatient with the players of the game. The compromise is a step in the right direction, no question about that.

      Thank you for taking the time to comment BB and thank you for saying I did a good job of arguing my point.

      I am sorry I did not respond more thoughtfully before. You deserved a better reply than what I originally gave…

      -JJ

      • bostonboomer says:

        Hi Minx,

        Believe me, I get frustrated too–I’m sure you can tell that from my posts. That’s probably why I’m feeling sensitive today. This argument over women’s right to contraception has really hit me hard. It sickens me to realize that we are still fighting the same battles we fought when I was 19 years old–45 years ago!

        Without this blog, I don’t think I could handle my anger. I’m disgusted with Obama in so many ways, but now that I know there won’t be any better alternative for the next four years, I’m stuck with hoping he will grow in office. I honestly think I’ve seen some signs of that. I’m basically an optimist at heart and I can’t seem to ever give up hoping for the best.

  7. Fannie says:

    Minx you speak for me, for our sisters. We hear you, we are equal, we demand equal treatment. We cannot let people control us, those people who do so, are far less compassionate, and seem to care less. Like you, like my sisters, I fear what lies ahead.

    Thank you, like the hell you have gone through, we have gone through, our daughters go through, and yes it is endless hours of hell.

    The days of men, and the church making descisions for women are over. The day of women voting by way of their husbands and fathers, and brothers are over. The time is now, for equality and human rights.

    Your entire article hit a nerve. Thank you.

  8. Woman Voter says:

    Kabuki:

    Obama rescues women’s reproductive care…thank him you women folk…

    Oh, wait, wasn’t it Obama that took women’s reproductive care when he signed President Obama Stupak Executive Order? Oh, yea, and Catholics already were paying for reproductive care the requirement was that they get them at non-Catholic hospitals and pharmacies.

    Why wasn’t the President Obama Stupak Executive Order called a WAR on WOMEN, as this so called attack on religion meme of attacks on Catholics?

    If Obama is going to get the credit as the semi-hero, then it women should be told he is the one that put ALL of women’s reproductive care on the alter to begin with. The media protection of Obama is sickening, and puts women in an infantile position without ALL the facts thanking him when he caused the problem to begin with.

    • dakinikat says:

      Who said he rescued women’s reproductive care? I’ve seen not one article on that. This basically is an end run around Stupak. Take it for the win it is. I sometimes think people are still so angry at Obama and just hate him so much they can’t think straight. The media is still ripping him for not being ‘accommodating’ soon enough. They think he should’ve completely caved three weeks ago and they’ve totally ignored the constitutional issues. They think he’s lost all Catholics on this and are still saying it. Really, I love you to death but I think your narrative here is based more on your anger left over from 4 years ago than realizing that this just ran over Stupak. Plus, I think this happened so quickly with the acquiescence of the insurance companies so quickly that any person with experience with insurance industries can see that HHS must’ve been working on this for months. I really think that we owe them and Sibelius the gratitude. They worked out a beautiful endrun. Obama just announced it.

      • Woman Voter says:

        My trust of his chest plays is gone, with Stupak, with him blocking HR676/Public and the Medicare Buy In. To me, it seems more about his re-election than a commitment to the issues that should be his core, since he has only begun to see them within the last couple of months.

        Obama is an attorney as an attorney he should have had the written agreement or the signed Executive Order requiring insurance companies to comply when he made his announcement. I am tired of all the games back and forth, with women being the ping pong. It is a matter of health care for women for me.

    • dakinikat says:

      universal coverage for birth control for medicare, medicaid, and insured women with no co-pay is not Kabuki btw

      • Woman Voter says:

        The Kabuki, part is that the crisis was caused by Obama signing President Obama Stupak Executive Order. Why not tell the whole story, that is why I get so tired of it. We simply need more women that understand what reproductive care is.

        Look how hard the Republicans push and Democrats too to insure men get their Viagra.

      • Woman Voter says:

        Andrea Mitchell finally admitted that a large part of contraceptive was also use for disabled and hormone replacement and for family planning. I am just tired, plain tired of fighting and often fighting people that claim to be for women.

    • Woman Voter says:

      I am so ticked off by all the media ploys used on us women, that I can’t even get my thoughts down right. Honestly we are manipulated every election with the same thing, basically called whores for asking for reproductive care, that includes: uterine care, contraceptives, hormone replacement, therapeutic contraceptives for disabled, D&C, ectopic pregnancy care, surgery, cancer care, cancer screening, pregnancy, prolapse, etc, etc….

      In my state we had to fight to get coverage for pregnancy because they were treating it as additional coverage, where the hell were the RELIGIOUS PEOPLE THEN!

      I hope there are more women elected that begin to deal push back:

      Virginia State Senator Howell Attaches Rectal Exam Requirement for ED Medication To Anti-Abortion Bill
      January 30, 2012

      State Senator Janet Howell, a Democrat from Fairfax (VA), attached an amendment that would require all men to have a rectal exam and a cardiac stress test before obtaining a prescription for erectile dysfunction medication to a bill that requires women to undergo an ultrasound before having an abortion.

      To no one’s surprise the amendment was rejected on Monday by the Republican-controlled senate by a vote of 21 to 19, but the mandatory ultrasound bill still passed in a voice vote. Although there are only seven women in the Virginia senate, six of them voted in favor of the amendment, along with 13 male senators.

      • dakinikat says:

        Completely agree. Think the media show a total bias against women’s rights and reports stuff with a sympathetic eye to religious interests over individual practitioners.

      • bostonboomer says:

        I don’t think Andrea Mitchell is a “bad guy” on this one. She was the first person on cable news to push back on Komen, and she has been consistent in her support of women’s reproductive rights. She even called attention to the misogyny against Clinton at times. I think the anger is better directed toward Chris Matthews and Joe Scarborough and network management.

  9. Pat Johnson says:

    Remember back to the election of 2008 when women became thoroughly disgusted by the way the MSM and the DNC promoted President Indifferent over a woman candidate who had worked for years for women’s rights”

    The outcry at that time was for ALL women to unite – putting aside the pro life stance – and work together as one unit to combat this subjugation. I was one who was blistered for suggesting that there was NO WAY in hell that the pro life faction would ever be willing to work in concert because theirs was an issue that they would never allowed to be compromised by compromise.

    Oh no, the echochamber cried, we must stop making abortion rights the primary issue and work to level the playing field in the workplace first and foremost.

    “Oh contraire”, was my reply, these women have spent the past 3 decades working to dilute reproductive rights and once their nose was in the tent they would push, push, push to get their agenda to succeed.

    NO, NO, NO! There is no “compromise” surrounding healthcare treatment under any circumstances. I was accused of being too one sided in my commentary and practically run off certain threads for even suggesting that these two groups, divided mostly by the pro life position, could never, ever find common ground and would be expecting those of us who preferred pro choice would cave in.

    Well here we are, only a few years into this Kumbaya baloney and the pro life forces, aided in large part by women, is gradually making the headway I and a few others predicted would happen.

    You can never seek to “reason” with these people since their critical thinking is wrapped up in religion and they are not about to surrender their position without an out and out fight.

    I stick to my original position and you know what? I’m not wrong.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      You’re right Pat. I agree, and I think it is our understanding of the truth…that you can’t reason with these people…that brings about my skeptical and jaded outlook on any decision of policy that some feel is a step forward for women. Because at the heart of it, I know we will never get the equal respect and status that is due.

    • bostonboomer says:

      Yes, Pat. You’re right. I never thought women’s rights should be abandoned either. That’s the old bait and switch we’ve heard too many times. Women have every right to put the fight for our own rights first. And as Hillary often says–along with others like Peter Daou–equal rights for women is the key to improving the world for everyone.

  10. Fannie says:

    If the Catholic church wants to say who is covered and who is not covered, then let the damn vatican provide insurance for their flock of followers, and get them off our backs.

    • janicen says:

      Hear hear. The problem the church would have with that is that 98 percent of Catholics have admitted to using birth control at one time or another. It’s all so damned hypocritical.

      • Woman Voter says:

        Politicians forget it is the 98% that are likely voters and not those in towers thinking it is OK to have 11 children, then die in or after child birth, not to mention who can support and feed 11 children.

        If the 98% could they would say the reality of the matters at hand in their respective lives.

  11. Brava, Minx.

    I’m deeply saddened that a post like this needs to be written, but I’m so glad you wrote it. Thank you for sharing.

  12. Outis says:

    This was such a great post MM!! Thanks so much for sharing your story because when everyone gets to learn of experiences such as yours, it brings the dialogue back to where it belongs: reproductive health is about HEALTH not SEX. And right there, by framing the discussion properly, we can talk about the real issues. It is time for the sane people, most especially women, to fight, to hold the line and not let it get jumbled and muddied; drag it back to the world of facts every time a nutter tries to pull it into hysterical cuckoo land. Because the nutters will fight to the death on every issue, sometimes the sane don’t want to get their hands dirty. But we must. They have correctly identified our weakness: by examining all the nuances, and trying to be fair, and reasonable, and compromising, and finding the silver lining, etc. we get ourselves lost in the mire. And that allows the nutters to take advantage. And scream persecution! as they try to strip the rights from others. And gain ground at a now alarming rate.

    There is no gray in this issue.

    Just my humble opinion, but Minx got this one really right. No one disputes that no co-pays on birth control are great. But it is very important to note that instead of standing up and saying, this is not a religious issue, this is a discrimination issue, we were treated to weeks of discussion about how offended all the bishops would be and how their hurt feelings trumps ANY woman’s life and health. Religious freedom means an individual is free to follow the tenets of his or her own faith. If a Catholic woman chooses not to take birth control or get an abortion because her church tells her not to, that is her right. IT DOES NOT MEAN THAT THE RELIGIOUS CAN FORCE OTHERS TO FOLLOW THEIR RELIGION. Full stop.

    The president should have held literally a one minute press conference when this ginned up controversy happened. Walked up to his special podium and declared: “Discrimination is not allowed in this country. Thank you.” If Catholics had stated that (as some religions do) all people with dark skin were children of the devil and therefore will not be treated at their hospitals, what would the reaction have been? By making women’s rights negotiable, and coming to a “compromise,” it has been proved yet again that rights for women are not in fact inalienable.

    By “meeting with” and “listening to” and “considering” the opinions of bigots and hate mongers, the President of the United States has legitimized them. He found a found a clever loophole, sure. THIS TIME. But these sharks now smell blood in the water and saw how much airtime they got out of this and so now we will have to fight EVERY STEP OF THE WAY. And they will wail and gnash their teeth over every freaking thing because they see it works. It’s called a slippery slope and Obama just greased it up for them.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Thanks for commenting Outis…I am glad you found some truth in what I said up top. And I am glad my experiences helped to frame the discussion like you said. That was my intention and that was why I shared such personal things about myself in the first place. I wanted to set a touch point where people can step back and see just how these decisions affect women on a realistic level. Thanks again…so glad you are part of this blogging community.

      • Outis says:

        No thanks necessary. I’ve been thinking about your post all day as I’ve been out and about. You are one brave woman! Keep writing because you enrich us all with your posts!

  13. Woman Voter says:

    Minx, I hope one day soon there will be a Bella Award for those defending Women’s Rights. Rep. Howell and Hillary (Always there) should get a nomination for sure. A Bella Hat To YA!

    Interesting that the WAR ON WOMEN Continues since Bella’s Days:
    (Listen to how there wasn’t ONE woman in the US Senate)

  14. Beata says:

    Thank you for sharing this painful personal story, Minx.

    It’s time that people woke up to the realization that women’s reproductive rights are about health care first and foremost. Access to abortion and birth control are a major part of women’s health care. They can be necessary for a wide variety of reasons, as most women know.

    When I was in my late 20′s, my doctor wanted to perform a complete hysterectomy on me for
    GYN problems I was having. He offered me no other alternative. I was opposed to having a hysterectomy. I did not have cancer and wanted to save my ovaries and uterus. I hoped to have children one day. I told him that, but he wrote on my chart ( which I saw later ), “She does not want children”! I went to my local Planned Parenthood clinic for a second opinion. They helped me greatly by providing a type of birth control I could not otherwise afford, and because of them, I did not need a hysterectomy. However, I was still never able to have children, which was a great sadness to me, but I am eternally grateful to PP for the care they provided. I am sure my story is not unique.

    • dakinikat says:

      Unbelievable. The more personal stories I hear from women the more frustrated I become. You’re wise and strong response to go someplace else undoubtedly changed your life. I wish every woman had that kind of confidence.

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      Thank you for sharing your own personal story Beata. Like Dak, the more stories I hear, the more frustrated I get. It is especially comforting though to see and read what you all are sharing with us today. I feel like we are all connecting on some kind of cosmic web level.

      It is amazing how many women have similar experiences. I truly care so much about all the people who read and comment on this blog. To see the pain that so many of you have gone through is an emotional thing. I don’t even know what to say, except thank you for telling us your stories…and letting such a personal side of yourself come through.

  15. peggysue22 says:

    Wow, Minx. You knocked it out of the ball park. You have no reason to doubt yourself. A passionate and well-reasoned argument for all of us.

    And no, of course, Obama deserves no praise on the decisions of the last week. This was another round of appeasing the dark angels out there when it comes to women’s issues, which unfortunately the President has been willing to do again and again.

    Personally, I’m glad that women will still have access to birth control, as is their right for basic health and reproductive reasons. And no, this should not even be a point of argument. But what ‘should be’ and what ‘is’ are still at odds in the USA when it comes to the rights of women. In this case, the rights are absolutely critical because it involves our health and that of are daughters, nieces, sisters, etc., all the women we love and cherish.

    The important thing is that we never remain silent. That we push against those bleatings that routinely say our demands are secondary, that we need to wait, that women’s concerns and demands are less important than others.

    Your statement is clear and poignant. And I salute you for that. Good one! The battle continues. If there’s anything positive in what occurred over this mess, it serves as a wakeup call to all women. We must stay vigilant to keep the Dark Ages at bay.

  16. freespirit says:

    This post and comments are, as always, totally spot on. I feel inspired and understood each time I read this blog. I thought a few comments by Elizabeth Cady Stanton might be appropriate and timely:

    “The whole tone of Church teaching in regard to women is, to the last degree, contemptuous and degrading.”

    “The greatest block today in the way of woman’s emancipation is the church, the canon law, the Bible and the priesthood.”

    “The religious superstitions of women perpetuate their bondage more than all other adverse influences.”

    Elizabeth Cady Stanton

  17. northwestrain says:

    Thank YOU MM — 0bama is playing politics with women’s lives.

    The War on Women continues — and the fight for basic human rights will continue. This is just one small battle in the longest running war in history.

    Once again, women are expected to bow down and be so appreciative of the men who allow them to enjoy the rights of being a person…oh yes, they are allowing us to have medical treatments that not only prevent pregnancy, but allow women control over their own bodies. Prescription Birth Control is more than just an elective treatment to avoid getting pregnant while having sex. Women use it for prevention and legitimate health matters. MM 12 February 2012

    • Minkoff Minx says:

      @nwrain…do you think we are ever going to win this battle?

      • northwestrain says:

        In the 70s I would have answered yes — but now I don’t think so.

        We’ve had the illusion that the battle is over — and there’s a good book by a feminist writer from the UK — Susan Douglas “Enlightened Sexism”.

        Instead of winning a lot of young women were fooled.

        One article about this whole mess had some interesting background — back story — Scene in white house — a bunch of men — all men spent a whole lot of time discussing the politics of Birth Control — and how it would impact on HIS reelection . . . WRONG WRONG — this is where the bells went off in my head.

        What we should have read is that a group of women (Dak’s version sort of) — the best and brightest brains — legal and political. Women leaders then told 0bama what he needed to say. Had he had this brain trust of women — a Secretary of Women Issues (or some such name) — none of the crap would have happened. (Of course if this position existed under a GOP prez — a male would be the Sec. of Women’s whatever.)

        When you get a bunch of men trying to play politics with women’s bodies — we are turned into body parts and competing age groups.

        The political machine has a way of taking a gain for women and then using it against women. Repacking, renaming and then taking back the gain.

      • NW Luna says:

        We could win — If the US has true universal coverage for women’s health for even a few years — (This must include contraception, and interventions needed for women’s health) — I think we will not go back. The people will kick up too much hell to take it away again.

        I am actually heartened by Obama’s run-around maneuver to get contraceptives covered. Also by the recent Komen flack, even tho it had a faux-switch, since the worst right-winger there did leave.

  18. foxyladi14 says:

    no copay ever is a big deal. also the first time ever.and that is good. :)

    • northwestrain says:

      Agreed — the one gain. Probably the insurance will go up somewhere — the CEOs need their new planes & homes and mistresses.

  19. Free birth control is very personal to me, too. So it’s not that I’m not thrilled about that…but in my humble, person opinion only–this was already law…we were already supposed to be getting free birth control. And, it was never actually in jeopardy…again in my own, humble, personal opinion only. There was no constitutional contradiction. Screw C-Street. That is my opinion. Constantly doing everything to do end-runs around them isn’t really solving the problem. It just makes our legal code even more screwy and hard to work and keeps giving C-Street loopholes through which to thrive and keep staying politically relevant where it could be diminished instead.

    That’s where Roe runs into the sticking point, too. Cause it’s not just privacy that matters when it comes to women’s reproductive health. It’s autonomy and equality and privacy AND the equity argument–i.e. women, regardless of class etc., should have equal access to birth control and abortion and all other sexual health care. I am pretty damn sure a President Hillary Rodham Clinton would be making that argument. President Obama just played the oligarchy/C-street game

    I’m sorry but this is the crew that staged Obama’s disowning of Reverend Wright. My bullshit detector is going off.

    Good politics makes good policy–I really do think the means to ends matters. This was a campaign move, not a human rights move. Once Obama is re-elected, there will be no more campaign votes up for grabs to motivate him to do anything, out of expedience or otherwise.

    It’s not unlike the saying about nonviolence… “permanent good can never be the outcome of untruth and violence.”

    Well real lasting policy and social stratification change can never be the permanent outcome of the “permanent campaign” politics AND conforming to the oligarchy’s game.

    IMHO. This is NOT a criticism of all of you who are celebrating this or at least happy about it… I really wish I could join with you. I’m sad that I can’t, but I’m glad that we have been able to discuss this with civility.

    • bostonboomer says:

      In a second term, Obama will have to be motivated by fear of how he will be seen by history. We need to make him aware that more than half of the electorate are women and women write and read history books now–unlike in the 18th century.

      • See… another imho… Obama already is secured in history as first black president–he knows this. There will be critics, of any president, but he will always be revered by many no matter what, even if looked at as a frustrating figure on policy. It’s part of why he’s such a hard to motivate president. I’m not saying it’s the way he should look at it or that he isn’t taking too much for granted by looking at it that way (he clearly is)… but it’s just my observation of how he and his political team operates.

    • quixote says:

      Seconding you, Wonk, that my jumping up and down and shouting (I’ve just posted a mass of it) is NOT a criticism of people who are relieved to at least still have birth control. That IS good. But that doesn’t change the fact that the principle of the thing is totally, utterly, completely, and horribly appalling.

      And, like Wonk, I see this as campaign tactics. Absent a campaign, we’ll be right back in Stupakistan.

    • janicen says:

      Yes, we were already getting coverage for birth control, so coverage for it should be automatic. At the same time, abortion is a legal medical procedure, but we’ve known since the seventies that insurance coverage for it can be excluded, as in the Hyde amendment, on purely “moral” grounds. It seemed to me that the religiosos thought they could come after birth control the same way they keep chipping away at abortion rights. Now, I’m hoping that the precedent established with sidestepping the religiosos on birth control can be a model for sidestepping restrictions placed on abortion. I agree with other commenters that it shouldn’t have to be this way, but the reality of it is that lunatics are coming at us from all directions. Hell, I live in Virginia where we’re about to pass an ultrasound before abortion law, so I know the war on women is in full swing.

      • dakinikat says:

        My aunt (Uncle’s wife) took my mom to get a diaphragm before she got married so she wouldn’t end up preggers on her honeymoon like she did and my mother’s sister did. Missouri “let” women get birth control but they had to prove they were married or about to be married. I was born before Griswold. The only place where you could get the pill cheap and easy in my day was planned parenthood or campus health services. It was hit or miss in terms of coverage and that was after Griswold. My insurance co-pay for as long as I need it was a huge deal. Universal coverage and no co pay was the holy grail of birth control rights in my day and we’ve finally got it.

        Now, if we could just move the bastards on access to abortion I’d be ecstatic.

        There’s a war on Voting Rights, Privacy Rights, Immigration, anti-Discrimination Laws, and Women’s Health. We’re not the only ones with civil liberties and rights under attack right and left. It plays out in politics. It plays out nasty. It’s played strategically and for the benefit of press coerage.

        I only care about outcomes. We’re either better off or worse off. I don’t care about the packaging or the politicking. I am happy a line was drawn in the sand even if it’s not a clean, pretty, perfect line.

    • KendallJ says:

      I agree Wonk. This was a huge campaign stunt to pull women back in line who were drifting away. Unfortunately, the cost, as Minx describes in her post, still remains. The consequences of this Democratic administration legitimizing the Catholic hierarchy in their quest to subjugate women will be felt well into the future.

      This policy of “religous liberty” as a justification to discriminate against women at religious affiliated institutions is now the policy of the Democratic Party. Obama’s campaign stunt may vary well corral women into his column come this fall, but the precedent it sets has still yet to unfold.

      Yes, I get the whole argument that even though the insurance companies will be the ones picking up the tab, and that because the employers are the ones who pay for part of the insurance, there is no real change in the old policy and women will still get their birth control. But this argument misses a very important point. The real impact of Obama’s campaign stunt is that it expands the reach of the “conscience rule” further into the public sphere. We will have to wait and see exactly how it will be used to further discriminate against us. Furthermore, we still don’t know what extra bureaucratic hoops women will have to jump through to get this coverage in place. At the very least we will be burdened with more unnecessary bureaucratic paperwork, delays and hoops to jump. But more significantly it gives religious zealots more leverage to deny women their rights in public spaces where public money is in play.

      What I find so insulting is that Obama didn’t have to empower the Catholic Bishops in their bigotry in order to win this fight. He clearly did so to frighten women into believing that their access to birth control was in jeopardy and he was the one who was coming to their rescue. The statistics were clear that a significant majority of the public supports contraceptive coverage without a co-pay. The public was on our side. So why did Obama give the Bishops an inch, unless it was to create the false impression that the Bishops’ position had legal merit and that the fight was more serious than it was in reality. In entertaining their position, he gave legitimacy to the notion that it is acceptable to discriminate against women for religious reasons, even in public spaces and with public money. In turn, this gave him the opportunity to pronounce that, unlike the republicans, he disagreed with this discrimination and that his administration would work around it in order to ensure that women get the coverage they need. But administrations come and go, while policy and attitudes linger for decades.

      The litmus test is simple and shouldn’t have been compromised. Take for example, there is no way in hell that anyone in this day and age, Democrat or Republican, would play this cat and mouse game with the Mormon church, if the Mormon Church refused its employees who worked in their affiliated hospitals and universities health insurance coverage for prescription drugs to treat sickle cell anemia or for vitiligo. Everyone would rightfully agree that such policy clearly discriminates against black people and is therefore unacceptable. No one would accept the notion that it was within the Mormon Church’s “religious liberty” to deny such coverage. We would all agree that the policy unfairly and deliberately targeted black people who are the ones who experience these conditions. I used the example of vitiligo to make this point because it is not life threatening. Whereas in many cases the use of birth control is used to avert life threatening situations, which makes the denial of its coverage more egregious, as Minx describes so eloquently above.

      The fact is that the policy the Catholic Church wanted to impose is unconstitutional on its face, and Obama knows it. It is unconstitutional because these affiliated institutions receive public funds in order to operate, and under the law you cannot discriminate with public money. Therefore, there was NO need to appease the Bishops. By doing so, it undermined the constitutionality of the policy that was already in place, and in essence expanded the reach of the conscience rule. Essentially, Obama empowered religious zealots to discriminate against women with public dollars. To compound the problem, the world’s predominant religions are premised on the notion that women are inferior and must be subjugated. Therefore, one of their core functions is to discriminate against us. So every time the “conscience rule” is expanded to accommodate them, it erodes the rights of women not to be persecuted by them. That is in part why it is so important to separate church and state, and to keep the rule of law secular and free from religious encroachment of any kind, including such ridiculous exceptions for religious institutions that provide public functions with public money. The “conscience rule” was deliberately put in place by the right wing to allow religion in through the back door, in spite the constitutions mandate against it. And Obama, with this campaign stunt, has just opened that back door ever so much more.

  20. quixote says:

    Minx, I’ve been too focused on my own post that I just put up. So I missed yours! Aargh.

    We’re on the same wavelength. As I say at the end, “So here’s the bottom line. Women have lost the recognition of their most basic right as citizens. In return, they have been given pills. That is a sop, not a win.”

    And I’m also on the same wavelength in that it took me so long to write it because I’m so angry about it.

  21. Minkoff Minx says:

    I just want to add a few links to this post…

    McConnell: Any Employer Should Be Able to Deny Contraceptive Services | Video Cafe

    “The fact that the White House thinks this is about contraception is the whole problem,” the Kentucky Republican explained. “This is about freedom of religion. It’s right there in the First Amendment. You can’t miss it right there in the very First Amendment to our Constitution. And the government doesn’t get to decide for religious people what their religious beliefs are.”

    “The [Catholic] Bishops came back and said they want to push now for stronger legislation to extend this ban on religious institutions having to buy these things,” Schieffer noted. “And Sen. [Roy] Blunt from Missouri — one of your Republican colleagues — he wants an amendment now that would allow any group that had a moral objection to this to not have to pay for birth control pills. Are you willing to go as far a Sen. Blunt?”

    “This issue will not go away until the administration simply backs down,” McConnell replied.

    Schieffer pressed: “Are you willing to go as far as Sen. Blunt now wants to go and just write in legislation that would ban any group that had just a — quote — moral objection, not just a religious group, but just any group. Would you be willing to push that in the Senate?”

    “Yeah,” McConnell admitted. “If we end up having to overcome the president’s opposition by legislation then, of course, I’d be happy to support it and intend to support it. It will be difficult as long as the president is rigid in his view that he gets to decide what somebody else’s religion is.”

    According to the National Women’s Law Center, Blunt’s amendment (PDF) actually goes a lot farther than contraception, creating a loophole that allows any employer to exclude any health service.

    “For example, any corporation whose CEO opposes contraception based on his ‘moral convictions’ could deny all coverage of contraception or any other service to the company’s employees,” the center observed. “Even more disturbing, a CEO’s view of ‘morality’ could potentially include concern for the cost of a particular benefit. Such broad, undefined refusals (without any protections for the insured) would result in millions of individuals losing vital health service coverage.”

    And this…Share Your Story – Ectopic Pregnancy & Miscarriages | National Women’s Law Center a link BB sent me.

  22. Stephanie says:

    I read your story about being at a Catholic hospital (which wasn’t a Cath hosp last time you were there), and I was curious about what year that occurred.

    Cuz my mom, born in 1919, was at a Cath hosp once sometime in the mid 1940s. She was pregnant, her first pregnancy, and she started bleeding. Not sure how far along she was, but long enough for them to later say the child would have been a boy. So she went to the hospital because she feared she was losing her baby. It was a Cath hosp. I didn’t hear about any of this til at least 20 or so years later when I was a teenager. So my mom went to the hosp, probably hoping to save her baby. But it was a Cath hosp (and my mom was Cath, too), and they treated her like manure, from what she told me later. She was in pain, but they ignored her, they acted like she had done something to cause the bleeding/problem. I remember she said they put her in a room and ignored her and her cries.

    So many years later, maybe 20 years later, when she told me about it, she still felt the pain. She still felt humiliated by the treatment (or lack thereof) she received at the hospital. She was losing her baby. But they treated her like she had done something wrong to cause the miscarriage. So she lost the baby, which she wanted, and they made her feel guilty and dirty.

    Every time the subject of Cath hospitals comes up, I remember my mom and her miscarriage. Some things never change.