Ren's Ramblings & Writings

Contemplations on things tangible and intangible

Thursday, March 29, 2012

My Letter to President Obama Re: Contraception, employers, and Arizona House Bill 2625

Dear President Obama:
Thank you!  I would like to offer my thoughts on these issues.
During a time when employment and unemployment are already difficult, even distressing, republicans want to introduce MORE employment problems by allowing employers to choose what health coverage we should have.  It is not simply a matter of finding an employer who offers the health coverage that we desire.  For those with jobs, it would be a painstaking task to try to find another job, and for those of us without jobs, this would be one more frustration, fear and obstacle to finding suitable employment.  And this is not a simple matter of just finding health insurance outside of our employer, when they are enabled to fire us if they discover we use birth control.  I have to wonder if employers who discriminate based on their personal beliefs would still be classified as  Equal Opportunity Employers, and are they required to comply with Federal Equal Employment Opportunity laws?

Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), which prohibits employment discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin;
Religious Accommodation

An employer is required to reasonably accommodate the religious belief of an employee or prospective employee, unless doing so would impose an undue hardship.
This is not just about women’s health. This is also about family finances, well-being, and survival.  My family has two children because we do not want more. We already have one child with special and medical needs that are a health coverage issue.
I use birth control, which my husband and I both agree on, not only to keep my family stable with two children, which is very important to us financially, but a specific birth control was prescribed to me to control hormone issues that my body does not control on its own.  In addition, birth control has contributed to reducing the severity of cycles, which is not only convenient to me, but which my husband also benefits from!  These are standards of living and well-being that neither the government nor employers should interfere with.
Single men and women will not be the only ones to suffer if this religious-fanatical agenda succeeds.  The personal sexual lives of many married couples will also suffer if they don't want more children, or if the health of wives suffers due to inability to obtain simple birth control which is known to help with many female medical issues.  In addition, this will not just affect the employment of women; what happens when a husband has to ask his employer if his wife is allowed to get birth control through his health plan, which she is a beneficiary to?

No one is calling for an end to coverage for hysterectomies or vasectomies, both of which prevent pregnancy, but are costly and invasive, OR Viagra.... Men want Viagra, but extremists want women to "put an aspirin between their knees," as recommended by Santorum supporter Foster Friess and our nation’s embarrassment, Rush Limbaugh.  In addition, the statement that Viagra promotes procreation is not true, as this drug is marketed to older men whose wives/significant others will likely be at the end of, or beyond, their child-bearing years.  This is a contradiction, and women are not property for whom religious law is needed to make decisions.

Here are two excerpts about Dr. John Rock, a devout Catholic who pioneered contraception:
"Another opponent of the Catholic ban was John Rock, a devout Catholic doctor who taught at Harvard Medical School and who would become one of the leading clinical researchers responsible for developing the pill. Rock held that contraception was sometimes medically necessary and often personally desirable for maintaining happy marriages and well-planned families. He also believed that birth control was essential for those who could not afford many children. Rock was by no means a radical. He was a solid Republican and didn’t approve of sex outside of marriage. But he openly defied the Catholic Church and state laws."  “Today, according to the Guttmacher Institute, more than 99 percent of sexually experienced women report having used contraception. But we are once again debating whether women should have access to birth control. Fifty years ago, John Rock, the socially conservative, Catholic, Republican doctor, insisted that birth control was consistent with church teachings. He believed that contraception was essential for women’s health and well-being, family happiness, and the good of society. The vast majority of Americans of all faiths and political parties agreed with him at the time. And they still do.”
“Rock had witnessed the suffering women endured from unwanted pregnancies. He had seen collapsed wombs, premature aging, and desperation caused by too many mouths to feed. The experiences of his patients had a profound impact on the man. Despite his faithful Catholicism and the church's opposition to contraceptives, Rock came to support contraception within the confines of marriage. Although he never went as far as to endorse birth control purely as a woman's right, Rock believed in the power of birth control to stem poverty and prevent medical problems associated with pregnancy.”

Banning or otherwise limiting birth control because someone might use it outside of marriage, or might use it for prevention is like prohibiting Sony or Panasonic from manufacturing recording devices because someone might abuse them and fraudulently record movies and music they are not authorized to record.  That does not make good economic sense. And, why I use it is not my employer’s business if I am paying for my health care premiums. What would you do if your employer believed only in the power of prayer and refused to allow you access to medical coverage?
Consider a $10 per hour wage-earner, anyone you know: that's $1600 per month (before taxes), at best. The house/trailer payment is $800 per month, car $200 per month, insurance, utilities, two kids, groceries, and gas in the car is $200 per month right now. The family qualifies for health coverage from the state of Colorado because the wage-earner doesn't earn enough from his/her job to cover the kids. At the end of the day, you and I, TAXPAYERS, are paying for those children to have health coverage and food assistance. And there are things that employer’s coverage and the free health coverage don't cover; as we all know-there are some prescriptions health coverages won't cover, and that family can't afford to pay out of pocket. This whole thing is not as simple as it seems on the surface. Should we let that family continue procreating, so there are more kids for us to pay for their food and health coverage, or might it be prudent for us to ensure that the employer doesn’t interfere with that wage-earner’s personal health coverage, that HE/SHE pays for, so he/she doesn't keep making babies that you and I have to pay to feed and provide state sponsored health coverage? The Guttmacher Institute states that “Nine in 10 employer-based insurance plans cover a full range of prescription contraceptives…”  This is an economic as well as a survival and well-being issue.

I am mortified that politicians would give employers say over the personal health lives of women and their families, and thank you sincerely for your position on this.  I have become more and more distressed over these extremist ideas that are being legislated in America. I, honor everyone for their beliefs, and subscribe only to the Constitution for governing authority over the general citizenry. 

Amendment 1 of the Bill of Rights:

“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

This also includes freedom from religion, and freedom from the dogma and doctrine of my neighbor’s religion. In other words, politicians do not get to force their beliefs, which work for them, on others.
I've been told that this country is not truly a melting pot, since we are in many ways, separated by economic status, culture, religion, and race. Never the less, All peoples of all cultures, religions and races and belief systems make up this country, and no one religion or religious belief system can dominate everyone else.

The issue of contraception is a political football, and it is a strong moral issue. Neither government, nor anyone else, get to define marriage, or sex, within or outside of marriage, for others. You get to define those things only for yourself.  As for the rules of intimacy between a husband and wife, each person gets to define those rules only for their own relationship, not for others. The government does not get to define these things, nor should an employer.  If respective politicians choose to live by their religious law, that works for them, but neither they, nor their church, get to force those beliefs on others in a country that not only is a melting pot of different cultures, races, religions, belief systems, and even varying degrees of belief and observance within the established religions.  In the perception of many who think differently, using contraception for prevention IS BEING RESPONSIBLE.  That is their choice. 

The bottom line is that one’s beliefs do not govern others. No one religion’s laws govern this country, as it should be. 
Reverend Renée L. Ten Eyck


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