Tag Archives: affordable care act

Sebelius v Hobby Lobby UPDATE: It’s worse than you think

“It’s not that bad!” you might wanna believe. “It’s only a few kinds of birth control, and if they don’t want to pay for it they shouldn’t have to, and women can probably still get it covered from the government, and not paying for it isn’t really restricting access!!”

wrong

Lets address these one by one:

First of all, I maintain that corporations shouldn’t be able to have sincerely held religious beliefs in the eyes of the law. They should not be able to get around the law of the land in this manner. And this whole ‘not wanting to pay for things’ argument is really just tough shit. Because there are lots of things we all pay for that we could reasonably object to, particularly with regards to health insurance. For example, I sincerely believe that the American diet causes heart disease, diabetes, and many types of cancer. So I don’t want to cover treatment for any of those issues. People should eat more kale and less hamburgers, or pay for their drugs themselves (Sound familiar? Be less slutty, or pony up for your slut medication yourself? Yea, that’s a real thing people argue.) Or the classic Viagra argument. That shit isn’t strictly necessary, and men should deal with their own penis/heart disease issues, why should I subsidize their erections? But also, what is the real difference between paying for it via insurance coverage and paying wages with which employees purchase contraception? Both are technically benefits earned by working. So to me, not including contraception in a benefits package is akin to an employer deciding what you can buy with your hard earned wages. Which is scary, and wrong.

But Alex, you say, it’s only some BC they don’t wanna cover. There are still lots of options!

1) If the options are legal and FDA approved, there shouldn’t be limits imposed by your employer because they aren’t a doctor and their ‘sincerely held beliefs’ aren’t backed by science and they don’t know what’s best for your body and health. Full Stop.

2) This ruling is limited to only contraception, however it is not limited to only the 4 kinds that Hobby Lobby opposes. I repeat: Companies that wish to are able to stop covering any type of contraception they have a ‘sincerely held religious’ objection to. Here are the 82 companies that currently have cases pending. Not all object only to EC and IUDs.

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Additionally, I’d like to point out that not covering something is indeed restricting access for many many families. Contraception isn’t cheap. The reason that coverage was mandated when the ACA was passed is because the medical community widely recognized that contraception comprises basic care for women and families, and that it should be universally covered like other forms of necessary and preventative care. When it isn’t covered, women and families are forced to make tough decisions. It’s like if health insurance didn’t cover mammograms or prostate exams. These kinds of procedures are covered because they save lives, and often prevent more expensive and harmful issues from occurring. Contraception has the same effect on the lives of women and families.

Finally, the work around. Remember, this work around currently only applies to non-profits that are exempt, so they will need to extend it to for-profit closely held companies. They most likely will, but as of now it’s hypothetical. Regardless of the fact that women shouldn’t have to endure extra steps to get the basic care they need, the federal work around isn’t working smoothly for the non-profit employees. Because companies are assholes. In order for employees to seek coverage from the government, the employer must put in writing that they object to providing coverage. But employers don’t want to put it in writing, because that would allow access which obviously they are against. Erin over at Jezebel explains, complete with sass:

If your company objects, the workaround as it exists as of yesterday requires them to register their objection in writing. This will allow employees of said companies to obtain BC through the government rather than through their employers. Problem is, nonprofits that have been offered that workaround have said that signing a slip of paper objecting to birth control, thus enabling their employees to obtain birth control via other means, violates their religious freedom because it’s a tacit endorsement of birth control/murder/sluts/slutmurder.

It’s a real clusterfuck.

So then, what does this really mean. Is it about upholding your own values? Or forcing your values onto those around you? Is it about personal integrity, or controlling women’s bodies?

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Nope. I call bullshit. We cannot live in a religiously diverse nation if part of what it means to act religiously is to impose your beliefs on others. That’s a catch 22. And it’s really insidious and toxic that this ruling encourages the parts of religious exercise that seek to control women. Only contraception is covered under the exemption. Only the kinds of medicine that help empower women to have control over their bodies and their sex lives. Some women need this medicine for reasons other than preventing pregnancy, and some women cannot safely become pregnant, and those are really compelling points. But the real issue is that women should be able to not get pregnant if that’s what they choose, and they should have access to the medicine needed to safely have sex with their chosen partner(s). That is not radical, and it’s not anyone else’s business. We have all kinds of medicine that, it could be argued, allow people to act recklessly without consequences. People are allowed to smoke cigarettes despite the myriad health risks, and their eventual treatment is covered. We have drugs for constipation, gas, weight loss, diabetes, and heart disease, despite the fact that those issues are largely caused by poor diet and could be remedied with the proper nutrition shift. But controlling what people eat is crazy! They can eat what they want, and how much. Fine. So why is sex different?

why

Employers who find contraception morally reprehensible should figure out how to make money without female employees, or perhaps it would be easier if they accepted the full humanity of all women and all people and worried about the state of their own soul instead of forcing their will on other folks who are just trying to live life. I can’t help but think a lot of this would be a non issue if folks learned how to mind their own fucking business.

mindyabusiness

Yea but, they don’t. And the justices are whack. And lots of companies could potentially stop coverage and refuse the work around, legally. I hope Obams is working furiously to figure this out, hopefully maybe by mandating that if you don’t provide coverage you MUST put your objection in writing, thus allowing employees to seek full coverage else where. But it shouldn’t require this much thought or effort. Women shouldn’t be forced to work this hard to get basic care coverage.

 

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The Supreme Court and their Supremely Disappointing Recent Decisions: Why Don’t They Think Women Matter?

The three branches of our government are supposed to keep each other in check. But our supposedly balanced arms are broken. Probably equally so, but this past week, the Supreme Court has been the most disappointing (and being more disappointing than Congress, even temporarily, is a pretty big accomplishment.)

disappointed

The first disappointing decision was especially disappointing because it was unanimous.  Ruth Bader Ginsberg, where the fuck were you on this day? And Justice Sotomayor? Et tu? McCullen v Coakley dealt with buffer zones around abortion clinics, in this case in the city of Boston. The Justices decided that these zones were a strain on the free speech of protesters. Justice Roberts even went so far as to imply that abortion clinic protestors aren’t protestors. From his ruling:

While the Act may allow petitioners to “protest” outside the buffer zones, petitioners are not protestors; they seek not merely to express their opposition to abortion, but to engage in personal, caring, consensual conversations with women about various alternatives.

 

But to characterize these interactions as personal, caring or consensual is a joke. These people do not care if women wish to engage with them, and they are often violent and disruptive to the health care that women are seeking. They harass and threaten patients and employees. They are not small quiet grad ma’s with Bibles. The laws are in place because employees and patients have been assaulted and killed. And furthermore, free speech isn’t unlimited. You can’t throw a ticker tape parade down 5th Ave without clearance, you can’t block sidewalks, and the very Justices who handed down this decision rule from behind their very own buffer zone.

SCBufferZone

 

They just decided that women’s right to get health care, which is basic, isn’t as serious as the rights of anti-choice protestors to ‘speak out.’ They ignored the evidence that the violence is a real threat. And FYI, these clinics are often providing a wide array of health care such as cancer screenings, STD tests, and even pre and post natal care. NOT THAT IS MATTERS BECAUSE ABORTION IS LEGAL AND ITS A PRIVATE MEDICAL MATTER. I urge you, if you are able and live in an area where clinics are unsafe, consider being a clinic escort. And my deepest thanks to the brave folks already providing this care in the face of danger, and the volunteers who try to make the experience less terrible. These folks deserve better from the justice system.

thankyou

Secondly, in Sebelius v Hobby Lobby, the court decided yesterday that corporations that are closely held can deny women coverage for certain types of birth control, based on their sincerely held religious beliefs. Now, to me, the first issue here is that CORPORATIONS AREN’T HUMANS. Is that not obvious? Companies cannot have sincerely held religious beliefs, because that’s fucking silly. But the courts say they do, and that contraception is the only kind of coverage that religious beliefs can be used to deny. So right off the bat, the decision limits the scope by privileging some types of religious beliefs over others (the beliefs against blood transfusions or anti depressants, for example. [All 5 dudes who ruled this way are Catholic, just an FYI fun fact.]) The exemption only applies to companies that want to limit health care options for it’s female employees. Stellar. But even more disturbingly, the decision elevates these sincerely held beliefs over science. The corporations in question believe that IUD’s and emergency contraception cause abortions. According to the medical and legal definitions, that is categorically untrue. These methods do not end pregnancies, they prevent them. So the law says that even when religious beliefs fly in the face of accepted science, we should honor those beliefs over the actual facts, and at the expense of millions of women. Religious beliefs shouldn’t be used as a weapon to police the behavior of others, and freedom of religion shouldn’t trump the right of millions to life, liberty, and the pursuit of fucking happiness (fucking here being both literal and emphatic!)

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Here’s the lynch pin guys: birth control is basic health care for women. It isn’t frivolous. It’s not just for sluts, as the right would have us believe. 99% of sexually active women will use BC in their lifetime, and the education and access to this basic health care should indeed be as universal as other care. It should be covered. Remember, men’s sexual needs are universally covered and deferred to, and I doubt those 5 men would have ruled in favor of companies whose sincerely held religious beliefs oppose Viagra. If erections and other penis issues count as basic care, then so should family planning and vagina needs. I’ve read comments that claim this isn’t a big deal, that companies will still provide coverage for some birth control and if they believe this other stuff is morally wrong it’s not a problem. This is categorically false. Employers shouldn’t get to decide what method of basic care you seek. And they shouldn’t get to limit the health care decisions of workers. They don’t wanna pay for it? Well you know what, I don’t want my taxes going to the industrial military complex, and I’d like it to go only to fixing potholes in the bike lanes and public education. But that’s not how the system works. You don’t get to pick and choose.

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This decision elevates the accepted patriarchal reality of “closely held corporations” (UGH) and the needs of it’s religious owners over the real lives of women.  5 men decided that corporate personhood was more viable than the rights of actual human women. So they don’t have to pay for women’s choices. But we all pay for each other’s choices everyday, that’s how taxes and also insurance works. It’s fine if you disagree with that system and work to change or dismantle it, but these kinds of exceptions undermine the norm and elevate patriarchy. They do not serve justice or the needs of most citizens. And it’s wildly important that this is only about contraception, because that means it’s really about women’s bodies and women’s sex lives. It’s about control.

control

Yesterday, I was disheartened. It felt, in a really tangible way, like a personal attack. And it is personal. Because this ruling upholds the idea that women mustn’t make their own choices, that their bodies aren’t their own, and that they don’t have a right to the sex life of their choosing. This exemption validates the needs of men while undermining the existence of women as full humans. It’s personal because who and how we choose to love and fuck is personal, and our sexual health isn’t incidental or a second class issue. It’s central to our health and our lives.

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I’m not sure what to do about these rulings. A murderous rampage crossed my mind. I’d like to say we should all vote, and that is important, but we don’t vote directly on these judges so that feels like a round about solution (but obviously vote, duh.) So I say we just get loud, keep shouting until they take us seriously. Add your name to the Planned Parenthood dissent, join the Lady Parts Justice protest, and have conversations about why this matters. We must stay loud, that’s how these issues gain critical mass. Like the investigations on how colleges handle sexual assault. Slowly but surely, those violations on Title IV are being handled. Because we screamed about it. And we need to scream about this. We need to keep saying, over and over, that our right to bodily autonomy and safety is real, and basic, and paramount. We can’t stop until they stop calling us sluts, until offenders are punished, until our health care is provided no matter what we do or who we work for. We can’t stop until our personhood is upheld and valued. We can’t stop until justice is actually serve.

SOTU: Obama Hearts WomenZ

Oh man, how hype were you for the State of the Union?! I mean, maybe we’ve been disappointed at times with the man or the administration, but I think we can all agree that he has speech giving skillZ, for realZ. (Ok I promise I’ll only do that obnoxious Z thing like…. one more time…)

Here’s the entire speech, if you’ve got time to kill:

Obams had my heart swelling at a few key moments. The first was when he shouted out the first lady, Michelle, for being a bad ass role model. Their affection for one another gets me every time.

michelleGIF

so precious.
so precious.

He also had some choice quotes about the state of ladieZ (last time) in the good ole’ USA:

“Today, women make up about 1/2 our work force, but they still make 77 cents for every dollar a man earns. That is wrong, and in 2014 its an embarassment. Women deserve equal pay for equal work.”

I COMPLETELY AGREE BOO! The wage gap is super embarassing, a statistic often cited by feminist to prove that there is work left to be done.

“It’s time to do away with policies that belong in a Mad Men episode.”

What? A Don Draper shout out!

This man truly knows the way to my heart via pop culture references.
POTUS truly knows the way to my heart via pop culture references.

 He elaborates:

“She deserves to have a baby without sacrificing her job… and you know what, a father does too.

I believe when women succeed, America succeeds.”

Excellent nod to the basic principle that ‘women’s issues’ are truly universal, and that pro-women policies will also have a positive effect on men and men’s lives. Subtle, yet forceful. I loved this part of the speech. I saw some ladies in the audience being roused from their seats, excited that he was touching on these issues as part of a larger ‘economic strength’ theme, seeing their concerns reflected in his vision. It was great.

here here!
here here!

But. Yea, that ever so small but. There were some concerns notably absent. He steered way clear of reproductive rights issue when discussing the Affordable Care Act, which I totally get. It’s a hot button topic. He did mention that pre existing conditions no longer block coverage, and that kids can stay on their parents insurance longer, both of which are awesome parts of the bill. And he did shout out women, who can not longer be charged a higher rate because they are, well, women (UGH DUH YES.) However, reproductive choices and contraception have great bearing on the financial well being of women and families. So discussing those aspects of the law would have been an on target point.

No mention of this...
No mention of this…

He also steered clear of gay rights completely, and in general kept the speech’s thread tied to economic well being. And I appreciate the arc and overall coherence of the address. However, some things can’t be measured in dollars and cents. Safe spaces, personal well being and fulfillment, a life without fear, all things that can’t be directly addressed through economic policy or tax code. Those were points I was hoping to hear him take a stronger stance on. I also missed some of the environment portion, I know he said climate change is for sure real (awesome!) but he also was all about natural gas and if that’s fracking then that’s probably bad news bears right? Maybe? I’m not an expert so I’ll just save that for future commentary by folks with more going-green knowledge.

Overall, I thought he was eloquent and persuasive. I’m amped to hear him state outright that he’s going to take action on his own, without involving Congress, since they have proven to be useless. I hope this new attitude carries over from speech fodder to real life executive orders. If he manages to raise the minimum raise this way, well I think I’ll just faint. Honestly, I’d love to see him go truly radical. Nothing he mentioned was really that revolutionary, and it astounds me that the other side thinks he is ‘socialist’ or ‘far left.’ Almost everything sounded to me like common sense, very middle of the road. But I guess that’s why I steer clear of politics (and large geographic sections of this country…)

hoping for more of this attitude... LOL
hoping for more of this attitude… LOL

What did you think about the gender issues he touched on?

Rage Post: When Republicans Say Fucked Up Things

I fear this post is episode 1 of what will surely be an ongoing and arduous journey. I will try not to angry post about every dumb thing that comes out of some white man politician’s mouth, cause really, I don’t have that much free time on my hands and neither do you. But this is, well, rul bad, and it’s Friday and YOLO so let’s go ahead and rage.  Here. Watch.

Seethe.

If you can’t bear to watch that, here it is in good old text form.

Women I know are outraged that Democrats think that women are nothing more than helpless and hopeless creatures whose only goal in life is to have the government provide for them birth control medication…  And if the Democrats want to insult the women of America by making them believe that they are helpless without Uncle Sugar coming in and providing for them a prescription each month for birth control because they cannot control their libido or their reproductive system without the help of government then so be it! Let us take that discussion all across America because women are far more than the Democrats have played them to be. And women across America have to stand up and say enough of that nonsense.

First of all, Mike Huckabee doesn’t know any women. At least not any women who like him.

But seriously, this is some really gross and disgusting bullshit. It is a complete distortion of reality. He is trying to make is seem as though the government is rescuing us female damsels with birth control because we don’t have the power to control our bodies without them. That is so twisted it’s almost funny.

First of all, having access to safe and affordable contraception isn’t anyone’s only goal in life, asshole. But it is super cool and it does provide women with added autonomy and mobility in their lives and decision making. Next, birth control is not the government rescuing women. Tax payers are not paying the cost of covered contraception. The ACA mandates that insurance must cover birth control because it is a necessary part of a woman’s overall health (SIDENOTE: the first time I picked up my BC at CVS and the pharmistist was like “Oh, it’s covered now” my jaw dropped, I put my debit card back and said “I fucking love Barack Obama” and she said “Yea girl.” End Scene.) And it is integral. 99% of women who are sexually active have used contraception. Providing us with what we need is not rescuing us, it’s a reaction to women’s continual demands that our sexual health is paramount, and that our health depends on these resources. Taking birth control does not mean our bodies are out of control, and birth control isn’t about a lack of self control, you ignorant prick. If almost all women have used birth control, including the virgins and sluts and wives and girlfriends the single ladies and the mothers, then what you are saying is that all women are wanton harlets. That isn’t true. And if it was true, it would be 100% A-OK BECAUSE OTHER PEOPLE’S SEX LIVES ARE NONE OF YOUR BUSINESS. Also, new rule: I hereby ban the use of the terms libido and Uncle Sugar, forthwith, from now until eternity please and thank you EW goodbye.

I just don’t get it. I don’t get how they really think it’s possible that this shit will fly. Do they really think that making access to contraception harder is doing women a favor? And do they really think we will believe that? I also don’t get how they don’t see the irony of trying to block access to birth control while keeping their Viagra prescriptions filled to the max and covered by insurance. Holy sexist double standard batman!

bat,am

I am really sick of hearing old [mostly] white guys talk about women’s bodies and women’s wants and needs. Just stop. If you have never stopped to think about what it would be like to be pregnant and scared, stop proposing legislation that would affect young girls and women in ways that you will never have to understand and don’t even deign to try and empathize with. I feel like I’m totally rambling… it’s hard to even write coherent sentences after reading that quote. Maybe it’d be a good idea to just let them keep running their mouths, so they can continue to alienate folks who give a shit about women (which, fortunately, it quite a few people) and then those folks will use their voting power and then they will all go away. I am hopeful that the back lash against feminism and the gains made thanks to the tireless work of activists will be over soon and we can stop having these ridiculous conversations. If that sounds naivee, well it’s Friday and I can’t be pessimistic all the time and damnit I still believe that Obama is dope and a step in the right direction and maybe we’ll see women get to even numbers in the political arena in my lifetime. Maybe one will even make it all the way…

rachelandhill

A girl can dream.

Further Reading: Five Important Sex Ed Lessons for Republican Lawmakers