BEBE SANTA-WOOD, Political Columnist
This week, after much discussion, media coverage, and way more debate than is really necessary for insurance coverage of a drug, the Obama administration finally came to a compromise on the issue of birth control coverage by religious institutions. Recently, the president announced a decision requiring all hospitals, insurance companies, and health centers to offer complete coverage of birth control. The drama all started (as most classic jokes do) with the Catholic Church.
Many religiously affiliated hospitals in particular started to call on all the religious powers that be and raise hell. They argued forcing them to cover birth control limits religious freedom. For certain religions birth control is frowned upon because it impedes the creation of human life and goes against the sacrament of marriage and consequent baby making.
The compromise reached was that religious-backed health institutions (i.e. hospitals) would not have to cover birth control, but insurance would have to. It is a compromise that for once, seems to suit the needs of people on both sides of the debate.
My problem isn’t really with people who don’t use birth control and don’t believe in abortion, or with those who believe life starts at conception. Personally, I believe life starts as a bad idea after one Long-Island ice tea too many at your local Applebee’s, but don’t get me started on my weekend! My problem lies with the pro-life movement, or, as I fondly refer to it, OccupyVag (I’m trademarking that one y’all).
There is a continual push from both religious and political organizations to consistently make women and their respective reproductive organs the center of debate and policy. Personally, if I were the religious conservative sector, I’d be more concerned with ridding the world of real evil—like whomever takes the last of toilet paper from bathrooms, or the creator of the term “swag.”
But seriously. Is insurance coverage of a hormonal treatment really worth all this ire and anger? Beyond birth control being a woman’s choice (regardless of religion), birth control is used for many things besides reigning in the ovaries. It is used for acne, depression, weight, and many other things I don’t really feel like typing. I don’t think the sanctity of life is the issue for those institutions that protested Obama’s decision. Freedom of religion is not the root of this debate.
The problem is that unfettered access to birth control coverage limits the hold that institutions (religious, political, or other) have over a woman’s choice. It is an issue of control and a fear of losing that control, no matter how miniscule. I don’t think that having birth control covered will force women to use it if they don’t want to, but what it does offer is possibility and agency.