Ren's Ramblings & Writings

Contemplations on things tangible and intangible

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

message to Renfro and Lambert re: CO Blunt Amendment, Senate Memorial 3

Dear Sirs,

The deceptively named Senate Memorial 3 would put the Colorado Legislature on record as opposing health insurance coverage of contraception.
   For millions of us (including more than 90% of Catholics) birth control is a deeply personal and serious issue. It allows us to have control over our lives, bodies, financial security and health.  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.  This is not just about women’s health. This is also about family income, wellbeing, 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 republican, 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.
No one is calling for an end to coverage for hysterectomies or vasectomies, both of which prevent pregnancy, but are more costly and invasive, OR Viagra.... Men want to take 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.  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 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.
·         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.
·         How married couples view their intimate life is not yours, or anyone else’s business.  The intimate lives of other couples do not have to fit yours or your religion’s definitions.
The bottom line is that your beliefs, to which you hold yourself accountable, do not govern others. No one religion’s laws govern this country, as it should be.

Senate Memorial 3 is out of touch with the majority of Coloradans, who support coverage of contraception and other basic health services. All women should have access to contraceptive coverage, regardless of where they or their spouses/partners work.
The Department of Health and Human Services heeded the findings of an independent panel of experts, the Institute of Medicine, which recommended that birth control be included as a preventive health care benefit. Forcing women to pay out-of-pocket for contraceptives puts an unfair, discriminatory cost burden on a certain segment of society, and women may choose not to use the most effective form of birth control due to cost concerns.

Colorado already requires the coverage of contraceptives in our health insurance markets. Furthermore, Colorado citizens support coverage of and access to contraceptive services.

Please say NO to attacks on women's health and rights in Colorado.


Reverend Renée Lynn Ten Eyck

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Citizen's Project Personal Reflection

Why does it take a crisis such as 9-11 or Katrina to bring people together?
I grew up in a Catholic household, and though I did not consider myself outgoing or confident, I was always analytical, questioning everything to the point of frustrating adults.  In our small town church, it was not uncommon to hear comments from others if you missed a day at church or other church activities.  As time passed, however, the scope of my inquiries grew to questions such as “Why would a truly loving God send my god-parents to hell, just because they did not believe in Him?”  “Why, if we want to attract people to Christianity, was there a statement in the missalette denying invitation to participate in the Eucharist to those who were not Christian, and offering only a half-hearted invitation to those who were not Catholic?”  “Why does the priest dislike children, when Jesus loved the children?”  “Why do we have this rule?  Who told you so? Who told that person?” “What if I don’t interpret that passage the same way you do?”  When someone would criticize, I explained that it is our duty to question everything, even telling one friend’s parent that at least “I didn’t leave what I learned at the door prior to walking out of church.”
In my teens and twenties, I tried other denominations, always searching for what felt right, going to bible study groups, asking questions and trying to find answers that did not bring me back to the same uncomfortable conclusions.  During my twenties when I was in the Army, I did not feel that I could find my “next chapter,” and this part of my life remained in limbo for many years; the military has traditionally provided pastoral or chaplain services only for Christians.  Despite this fact, the cliché that “there are no atheists in foxholes” is untrue, and the military is acknowledging in recent years that not all of its members are Christian, and even among Christian members, beliefs and practices vary greatly.
Over the past 15 years, however, I have learned the actual history behind Christianity, which is eye-opening and includes great pagan roots, tragedies, atrocities, and incredible examples of humanity (Mother Teresa, who was a devout Catholic who never tried to convert those to whom she provided aid, and who seemed to believe that all religion leads to the same god). I have also studied other cultures and religions and belief systems and thoughts; Christian denominations, paganism, shamanism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, atheism, Judaism, and many other ideas of friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and spiritual leaders. What I have discovered is that I adore everyone in this wonderfully diverse world and all its ideas; I do not believe that any one belief system is right or wrong. 
I have learned that though I do not personally believe in deities to be worshipped, anthropology and sociology explain the benefits that established religion and spiritual beliefs can have for societies.  However, I have also learned that not only does religion have the ability to comfort and guide, it also has the ability to cause great harm.  Similar to some politicians who, rather than representing all of their constituents, choose who they deem worthy, some religious doctrines and institutions also choose who they deem worthy.  It is interesting that Ghandi and Mother Teresa, arguably two of the greatest civil rights and spiritual leaders of our time, never discriminated against people based on their beliefs, innate value or worthiness, nor does the Dalai Lama. 
I have also learned that we all have more in common that most people think we do.
After watching the struggles of non-Christians over the years, their fears, I also found myself afraid when I came to the realization that, though I was still searching for answers, I had to admit to myself that I am not a Christian, and perhaps, in my heart, never was. 
There are open struggles, as non-Christians seek to openly be who they are, to ensure separation of church and state, and as Christians fear “wars” on their religious beliefs.  I watched in disbelief as the supposed “war on Christmas” manifested last winter, stupefied and bewildered, trying to understand how anyone was being denied the right to observe Christmas in their homes, and as groups of non-Christians struggled with long-time local, state, and federal practices of decorating for the holidays, with some politicians even trying to legislate holiday decorations and the title of the tree (Christmas tree versus holiday tree). I do not believe this is what we are paying politicians to do.  It is interesting that there did not seem to be any public advocacy on behalf of those who celebrate the other December observances of Kwanzaa, Hanukah, or the Winter Solstice.
I do believe, after much pondering, that a Christmas tree is a Christmas tree, despite the fact that I celebrate Christmas only secularly, and despite its pagan origin, since there is no other holiday that uses a Christmas tree that I am aware of.  But I also believe there is a deeper issue here, one that goes beyond semantics.  
If I say “happy holidays,” that is my way of wishing something positive to the other person, and if the other person says “merry Christmas,” that is his/her way of wishing something positive to me.  It should not matter what words we each use, if we are able to look at the deeper intentions, especially since such huge population in America celebrates a December holiday.  If a person says “God bless you,” after a sneeze, it is that person’s way of wishing you positive health, in the same way that Spanish speakers say “Salud” when someone sneezes (“to your health”). 
I believe that if we can get beyond semantics, if we can look deeper into our neighbors’ hearts, we will find that we have much more in common than we thought, and it will not take a crisis to bring people together.