On Taking ‘The Pill’

I take it every morning. It’s called Levothyroxine– an old generic med for hypothyroid.

It’s cheap, and my insurance covers prescription drugs with a small co-pay. If I needed something expensive I’d be covered.

Every so often, I get a blood test to make sure I’m on the right dose. If I feel run down I can talk to my doctor.

I could afford to pay cash for my pill, and even to pay for the doctor’s visit and blood tests, if some huge institution had the power to practice their religion by separating out the endocrine system from the rest of the body and forcing my insurer to deny coverage for anything related to glands.

This exercise of conscience would have a bad effect on public health, of course, because there would be many people who would miss out on needed care.
But most of us would be okay. Especially people who don’t have thyroid problems.

I’m seeing some politicians saying that birth control pills are cheap and denying coverage for contraception is no big deal. If it is a big deal–a woman needs to try different pills, needs more medical attention and advice, needs a diagnostic test– does she pay out of pocket because that part of her body is red-lined like a neighborhood that can’t get a bank loan?

These religious people who are so acutely sensitive to ‘sending a message’ when something they don’t like appears on TV are sending a message loud and clear.

They are against birth control and they want to limit access even to unbelievers. While most adult Americans recognize birth control as an act of responsibility, Conservative Catholics and fundamentalists consider it a sin. They would rather use social control on single people, and persuade or coerce married people to relinquish the power to plan their families.

A principled religious stand is one where the individual sacrifices for their beliefs. A claim of principles when it’s other people who suffer the consequences is just hypocrisy. Religious organizations that don’t succeed in even persuading their own should not have the power to deny health care to others.

It seems crazy, from a medical standpoint, to separate out birth control when a woman is a whole person. It’s sad to see all the male authorities making assumptions that reproductive care is always cheap and trouble-free. Is anything else in health care always cheap and trouble-free? We have not yet reached the point where we trust women to make these profound choices, and respect the choices they make.

It’s not about religion, or liberty. It’s about birth control, and woman control, and taking liberties with other people’s lives.

UPDATE: Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to strengthen employers power to limit insurance coverage for anything they have a moral objection to.I guess that will work as long as it’s just some women. I wonder if someone someday will get a bill for an emergency blood transfusion– anathema to Jehovah’s Witnesses (who have a pretty good Biblical reason for that). Mitch Mc Connell has nothing to worry about– he’s got that good government insurance.

Suburban Grrrl at Daily Kos cites legal cases that have arisen around states requirements that employers cover contraception as part of health insurance, and explains why letting religions take undue ‘liberties’ with worker’s health is a form of discrimination…

Catholic Charities appealed a 2006 decision by the Court of Appeals for the State of New York, New York’s highest court, that concluded that the Women’s Health and Wellness Act was a neutral law designed to advance both women’s health and the equal treatment of men and women. That court also held that “when a religious organization chooses to hire non-believers it must, at least to some degree, be prepared to accept neutral regulations imposed to protect those employees’ legitimate interests in doing what their own beliefs permit.”(emphasis mine)

Wow! You won’t hear that on the news, but you can read the rest here.

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5 responses

  1. The difficulty with superficial arguments in complex matters that deal with complex constitutional, religious and societal problems is that they are superficial. And, indeed, there are very deep issues that a superficial President, very challenged intellectually, with superficial ideas about what is good for everyone else, has difficulty confronting. Whatever the real merits are, Mr. Obama has become mired in yet another ideological swamp, from which he cannot extricate himself.

    1. This sounds like something I used to hear when I would point out the harmful consequences of the Catholic Church banning contraception. ‘It’s a mystery’. Too deep and spiritual for us simple health minded people to appreciate.
      The Church can certainly use persuasion, starting with their own members. Picking and choosing health insurance coverage for non-believers has no justification. There’s something called a standard of care– evidence-based health care. The standard of care in obstetrics is for women to be able to maintain good health and space their children when they need to. Just be glad the Scientologists don’t have that much clout in the health care debate.

      1. seriously, what is so brave about a stand of conscience when it’s someone else who takes the consequences?

  2. 2 things:
    First of all, I don’t know on what planet BC is cheap. Mine costs $80 every three months, and that’s just the copay (it’s almost $200 for three months total). Yes, this is a branded pill, but there is a specific medical reason that I take a more expensive pill.

    Second of all, as someone who is morally opposed to most war and violence as well as to the consumption of meat, my tax dollars go to fund weapons as well as subsidies to pork producers. The form of separation of church and state we have in the US does give religion latitude for moral objection that non-religious beliefs do not have. However, it does not give the Catholic church more latitude than other religious beliefs. So it seems to me that until we all get to choose what we pay for based on our religious beliefs, they should have no legal leg to stand on.

    1. thank you. It’s hard to see the same battles having to be fought all over again. I was a kid when Pope Paul banned The Pill– I remember how shocked and dismayed some Catholics were. It was not a sure thing the Church would ban all birth control.
      Banning it for everyone is a reach.

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