Friday, February 10, 2012

My job, my pill

Right now, we are in the midst of a national debate about whether the administration overstepped in demanding that Catholic institutions provide birth control to women who work for them. I work at a catholic university. I opted to get my health care through my husband's business years ago, in large part because I was fed up with paying exorbitant out of pocket prices for birth control.

The right wants you to think that it is about religious freedom. It is, but freedom is not a one way street. It is about acknowledging that not everyone who attends a Catholic school, works at a Catholic hospital, or teaches at a Catholic university is a practicing Catholic. Catholic institutions have non-discrimination policies in place and allow for religious freedom within the institution. This is about the religious freedom of those who do NOT want to follow Catholic church guidelines, then.

Let's be clear. Catholic women who choose not to use birth control are not being forced. Nobody is saying that priests have to hand our pills in church.

Rather, this is about health care coverage and women's access to health care. It is about allowing women who work and study at Catholic institutions to have access to perfectly legal drugs that they should be able to access like any other woman. It is about promoting wellness and giving women access to key tools that will hopefully prevent them from having to resort to abortions. And it is about money, about the church seeking ways to not pay for this.

The law is for all the gals at Catholic places of work who, Catholic or not, choose to use birth control. Many use it for family planning, some probably use it to allow a sex-filled single lifestyle, some use it to deal with hormonal imbalance, or other health issues. All have a legal right to it and none should have to pay insane amounts of money for it, like they are buying ingredients for their meth lab.


  1. This needs to be submitted on

  2. This issue is hitting really close to home for me right now. I'm on the pill (husband and I don't want kids. End of story). The pill that works best for me is $95 a month. I've paid that for much of my time at ND (it used to be less, skyrocketed a few years ago), but I finally decided I had to switch to something cheaper. Problem is, all the cheaper pills I’ve tried give me fits of depression. And I'm in one right now. I got almost no work done today, and spent part of the night just sitting on my stairs in semi-darkness, not feeling like moving. So don't tell me birth control isn't a vital health issue or that it's a cheap drug we should be able to pay for ourselves. There’s a certain ND prof tweeting stuff like that, and I want to throttle the guy. (But I know better than to engage him on this. It would go nowhere.) He says if we want funded birth control, we shouldn’t work at ND. But my response is yours: if ND doesn’t want to have to support non-Catholics, the school shouldn’t have hired me in the first place. Go ahead and make it an all-Catholic school if you want, no one’s stopping you. But good luck making that into a top-tier research university with a good football team. Funniest part of this nimrod’s tweets tonight is that he’s praising some guy from the Law School for continuing to speak out against the mandate, said he’s glad to see someone “grow a pair” about this. Perfectly revealing choice of words given how this is all about men telling women what they should and shouldn’t do with their bodies.

  3. As you note, the requirement to cover the cost of contraception does not force anyone to use it. To exempt an institution on the grounds of religious freedom uses the same ridiculous logic as saying corporations are people.

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  5. By the way, that ND prof who was riling me up is now tweeting about how birth control is akin to sugarfree gum and thus doesn't need to be covered by insurance. Delightful guy.

  6. Here is a blog posting from one of my gender studies students, Laura Mittelstaedt, on the same topic.

  7. Here is a powerful editorial from a former Notre Dame professor and former Director of Gender Studies.

    1. To me, this issue highlights how unrealistic Catholic teachings have become in the 21st century. I'll never forget when I was a freshman at ND four years ago and I was prescribed the pill for health reasons. Without a car, I found myself naively waiting in line at St. Liam's hoping I could get my prescription filled at the campus pharmacy. I felt like a promiscuous fool when I realized that I couldn't get my prescription filled there (and I wasn't even taking the pill to prevent pregnancy!). These accessibility barriers are detrimental to women's health, as hormonal treatment (or lack thereof) has the power to impact physical and mental well-being.