Aghast that our Supreme Court — or at least the conservative males on the bench (Alito being the most partisan) — would allow employers to deny certain types of federally mandated contraceptive coverage to women due to the owners’ religious beliefs, I’m processing the slippery slope we are well on our way down. By “we” I mean women, because the Hobby Lobby ruling does not deny coverage for vasectomies, in one of the more hypocritical and overtly misogynistic rulings we’ve seen thus far from SCOTUS. I guess if you have an “outty” it’s okay to disrupt nature’s course, perhaps because without vasectomies, men might not get as much unprotected sex.
As I process my outrage, I encourage conversation on the topic. On a long road trip yesterday, I had an interesting discussion with a friend, who in an ideologically pure world wouldn’t support killing a human in any way: no death penalty and no abortion. (Contraception isn’t in the same ballpark for him, prevention of fertilization being different from death.) When I explained that a zygote or early- to mid-term fetus is not an independent life — it cannot exist outside a woman’s body — he conceded the point. He also nuanced his initially rigid-sounding statement by saying we do not live in an ideologically pure world and cannot make policy based on such a fantasy: there are shades of grey, practicalities, communities to consider, and thus he is pro-choice. I am grateful to be with a man who can discuss contentious topics without shouting over me or accusing me of murder.
When I think of the religious objection to contraception, I get a bit stuck. It seems that in this world view, abstinence would be the only way to prevent pregnancy, but how is that practical? What about young married couples who are not yet prepared to raise children due to poverty, immaturity, logistics, or other very practical issues? Are they expected to remain celibate while sharing a bed? I’m very confused…
The less generous side of me wants to go to the Hobby Lobby corporate offices and start pelting them with IUDs. No one is forcing THEM to prevent fertilization, so wherein lies the religious objection? When a woman chooses when and how to become pregnant, why does it affect their faith? Perhaps the thought of an 18-year-old cashier having sex makes them cringe. Maybe Hobby Lobby should just stop hiring women altogether, since they clearly favor men in their objections: Viagra and vasectomies being a-okay for the penis-sporting sex. Why is permanent disruption of the natural reproductive cycle privileged over temporary prevention of pregnancy? It’s not only sexist, it’s illogical to the point of ridiculous.
All of which takes me back to the slippery slope: Texas closing the vast majority of its women’s health clinics due to technical restrictions enacted recently into law, for example. Abortion is still legal under the Roe v. Wade court ruling, and yet we see states whittling away at women’s rights to services (not just abortion, but cancer screening and general healthcare) because of loud, minority voices. The Hobby Lobby ruling is another end-around the law, and a horrendous setback to the separation of church and state.
Please share your thoughts as I struggle to understand where this will lead for my daughter’s generation and how it is even possible as we prepare to celebrate our independence from the imposed views of others.