Target: Oklahoma Senate
Goal: Don’t allow employers to refuse to cover hormonal birth control on the false medical grounds that it “poisons women’s bodies”.
With each passing day, it seems as if the conservative war on reproductive rights intensifies. Now State Senator Clark Jolley of Oklahoma is pushing a bill which states, “no employer shall be required to provide or pay for any benefit or service related to abortion or contraception through the provision of health insurance to his or her employees.” The bill has support from anti-birth control family planning advocates.
Dr. Dominic Pedulla (a cardiologist), a constituent who supports this measure, claims that birth control “poisons women’s bodies.” In his full quote, Pendulla said, “Part of [women’s] identity is the potential to be a mother. They are being asked to suppress and radically contradict part of their own identity, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they are being asked to poison their bodies.”
This quote is appalling on numerous levels. Firstly, it blatantly reduces women to the reproductive functions associated with female bodies. Not all women can become mothers in the first place (many are infertile for one reason or another), transgender men are also sometimes mothers (so this identity is not exclusively the property of women), and many women would reject the notion that the potential to become a mother is part of their identity. Of course many other women do view this as a part of their identity, but that is not for Dr. Pendulla to proclaim on behalf of women as a whole, or to claim that taking birth control “contradicts” an identity which he is choosing to foist upon all women.
Secondly, it is paternalistic in the extreme to claim that birth control “poisons” women’s bodies. While there are some health risks associated with any medication, oral contraceptives are FDA-approved and largely regarded as having no more risk than other medications. In fact, oral contraceptives can have many health benefits, such as helping to reduce acne or regulate menstrual cycles. Some women use birth control purely for the regulation of protracted menstrual cycles. But regardless of why someone uses birth control, the choice is theirs and theirs alone to make. The risks are also theirs alone to take. Sign this petition to tell the Oklahoma Senate that this bill is based on paternalistic and anti-scientific reasoning, and urge them not to pass it.
Dear Oklahoma Senate,
You are now being asked to vote on a measure by State Sen. Clark Jolley which gives employers the ability to limit birth control options on insurance for female employees. This bill is backed predominantly by advocates of “natural” family planning who argue that birth control limits women’s identity as potential mothers and “poisons” their body. This language and the line of reasoning it supports are highly patronizing. Many women cannot be mothers or do not wish to be mothers, and if this is the identity they choose for themselves (and, ultimately, only they can decide whether they do consider “potential mother” as part of their identity in the first place), then that is their choice.
Affordable birth control options for women actually promote economic success, so there should be no reason for birth control options to be at odds with fiscal conservatism. To allow employers to make decisions about birth control on women’s insurance plans is to suggest that women are dependents who cannot make their own decisions. In fact, for birth control to be part of insurance plans will benefit the health of many women workers, allowing them to contribute at their best to the economy. To interfere with this is not, in any sense, “fiscal responsibility.” Furthermore, it is insulting and shows a lack of respect or compassion for women and their decisions.
I am writing to implore you to vote down this bill. Please do the right thing and let women continue to have affordable options for birth control on their insurance plans. Everyone will be better off if you allow women to make their own reproductive health decisions.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: ParentingPatch via Wikimedia Commons