The national discussions these days all seem to be chicken-and-egg arguments.


Right-wing: Social pathology causes poverty!

Left-wing: Poverty causes social pathology!


The real answer: This is a stupid question. Real life is much more complicated than that.


Aside from the vast oversimplification of complex dynamics, we all manage to not understand each other by engaging in what-is-it-really-about arguments.


Right-wing: It’s about religious freedom!

Left-wing: It’s about women’s health!


The real answer: Sorry, right-wing, it’s about women’s health, and the religious freedom card is a hefty load of codswallop.


Here’s why.


Religious practice being a matter of personal values, beliefs, and behaviors, it should directly affect only the practitioner of said religion. There is only one realm in which anyone would think it appropriate for an employer’s religious issues to impact an employee’s health care, and that realm is the control of female reproduction.


Let me give an example.


Say there’s a medication, a treatment for cancer, that is made out of bacon. (What? Many people think that bacon has salutary properties.) If an individual is suffering from cancer, one might reasonably expect that their health insurance will cover the bacon meds.


Jews (some of them, anyway) don’t eat pork. It’s a biblical thing. Bacon is off limits. For Jews. But if an employee of Beth Schlomo Medical Center has cancer and needs the bacon pills, they will be covered by the Beth Schlomo health care plan. Should the Jews running Beth Schlomo be able to refuse coverage for bacon pills for a cancer-stricken employee, who may not even be Jewish? 


Sure, the employees can pay for their own bacon pills, but the cost is high. They may have to skip the pills and rely on some less efficacious treatment.  And in any case, why should their health coverage be subject to the whims of their employer’s whacky religious issues? 


We will never have an argument about this, because it will never happen. Jewish employers would not refuse to cover bacon pills. Seventh Day Adventist employers do not refuse to cover blood transfusions. Christian Scientist employers do not refuse to provide health insurance at all.


Birth control is basic, critically necessary care. Of course it should be covered. It has zip to do with religious freedom. The Catholics who own Saint Mary Margaret Paul Health Care Center are free to not use it (though most Catholics actually do use it). They are not free to foist their whacky religious issues on their employees and refuse to cover basic care in their health plans.


Why are we even having this conversation?  Because we, as a culture, still think that wise, godly men ought to decide how women manage their reproductive lives. We, as a culture, still don’t want women running around having sex just because they want to. We, as a culture, still don’t really think women ought to want to have sex at all. We, as a culture, still want to use female sexuality as a tool to manage male behavior. And indeed, men’s behavior has gotten worse since women abdicated their responsibility to manage it for them.


Are you following me? Are my leaps too long? Let me break it down further.

·       Anyone can claim any nonsense as a religious belief.

·       You have to follow the usual rules in spite of your religious nonsense.

·       Except where sex in involved.

·       Because women having sex without patriarchal permission is the root of all evil.


Of course, sex is what the social pathology argument noted above is about, too. More about that another day.




28 thoughts on “IT’S THE SEX, STUPID

  1. My favorite line in this post is, “and indeed, men’s behavior has gotten worse since women abdicated their responsibility to manage it for them.” HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! And, SO TRUE! Bacon meds sound like a great idea. You should be the Healthcare Czar.

  2. Just a comment…and it is a great analogy…but Judaism is VERY pragmatic. If the only known cure for something was a porcine product, the thinking  for most Rabbis (not all, of course…there is no “one answer” to anything that I am aware of) would say that human life trumps dietary restrictions. For example, there are fast days—which you are expected to ignore if your are ill, pregnant, or very young, and if fasting would give you health issues. Diabetics can’t fast without messing up their blood sugars…same thing.) Otherwise, your post rocks. Just thought I would add something to the mix.

  3. Thank you and totally.  This is driving me CRAZY.Right-wing: It’s about religious freedom!Left-wing: It’s about women’s health!It has nothing to do with religious freedom, nothing whatsoever. simple, don’t believe in birth control don’t take it.And for the men who are so worked up, stop taking the damn viagra too, that will solve most of your problems right there. 

  4. There are certain members of my family that would wholeheartedly support the pilling of bacon, for portability. This was the best part, though:Why are we even having this conversation?Because we, as a culture, still think that wise, godly men ought to decide how women manage their reproductive lives. We, as a culture, still don’t want women running around having sex just because they want to. We, as a culture, still don’t really think women ought to want to have sex at all. We, as a culture, still want to use female sexuality as a tool to manage male behavior. And indeed, men’s behavior has gotten worse since women abdicated their responsibility to manage it for them. I love that.

  5. I’m for open debate- but I’m sorry I won’t be as quick to honor your defense of an imaginary bacon cure as the solution to the divide between society and morality that pervades the world these days. I would like to say that your perception of society is quite interesting because it’s the complete opposite of mine. You see society as oppressive and anti-woman where as I see it as intent on separating itself from morality on the basis of religious freedom. What you fail to understand is two-fold: that contraception is not life or death, therefore a cancer metaphor is entirely inappropriate. Cancer IS life and death. Contraception is a choice to live one way over another. Not judging how u live ur life, but you cannot argue that any woman has died from only not taking contraception- when they have from cancer. The other is Your belief that the person who provides for the contraception is not the same as the person who is using it is. In the catholic church a sin occurs when someone provides for someone else to use contraception in addition to the person who uses it. So yes, even providing contraception would be against their religion. You’re entitled to believe in what you do believe in, I put my life on the line for you to do that, and you appreciate that the government lets you exercise what you believe in. Why then, would you stand against what others believe in? Why would you outwardly defy what you’ve been granted? It makes no sense. Your post is seeking to align others with your desire to oppose other peoples beliefs. How jacked up is that? Let Catholics live the way they want to live if u want to live the way you do. Don’t follow ur own rules and make fun of people that follow theirs.. That’s just hateful

  6. @AllAmerican27 – Birth control is absolutely life or death. Pregnancy and childbirth are some of the riskiest things women do. Aside from the very real possibility of life-threatening complications, there is potentially an extreme economic impact. A pregnant woman might lose her job or be unable to work or care for her children during pregnancy, threatening the well-being of her family. Furthermore, unwanted pregnancy often leads to abortion–a life or death matter, don’t you think? Finally, birth control pills are often prescribed for reasons other than contraception. Some of the conditions treated that way may also be life or death or may significantly impact the woman’s health. I am not standing against what others believe in. They can believe anything they like. But they can’t deny me necessary health care because of what they believe. You are right about one thing: you and I have different perceptions of society and morality.  

  7. All of the conditions you propose are given the assumption that the woman has chosen to have sex, and that was how my argument held water- why contraception itself is not life or death, but a choice to live one way or another, versus cancer which entertains no choices. You can choose not to have sex and therefore avoid the complications of childbirth, you cannot choose not to get cancer. This would prove that contraception is not necessary. And even if it were, you have a choice of where you work, you should know that if u work for a catholic institution that they will not give you contraception because they don’t believe in it. You have the choice to work somewhere else.

  8. @AllAmerican27 – If I understand you correctly, you are saying that if a woman doesn’t want to get pregnant, she should just not have sex. Yes? Okay, so how are you going to feel when your wife says, “not tonight, honey, I’m not ready to be a mother”? Sex is a normal, healthy human function and an expected part of marriage, right? So abstinence is not really the answer, is it?Neither is demanding that women “choose” not to work for Catholics if they expect to receive the health care benefits they need the answer. “Sorry, kids, I’m not taking the nursing job at the Catholic hospital because they have bizarre anti-contraception rules.  So we won’t be eating next week.”

  9. In a marriage sex is absolutely integral, but natural family planning is the catholic response to contraception. As for the employment question- I incredibly doubt that the typical non Catholics choice is work for Catholics or starve. Haha thats just not even remotely true. Or else Catholics are doing way better in the business world than they even realize.

  10. @AllAmerican27 – “Natural family planning” is not reliable. If you don’t want to get pregnant, you use birth control (as nearly all Catholics do) or you don’t have sex. An unwanted pregnancy is still unwanted if the woman is married when it happens.  In many communities, the Catholic-run hospital is the only hospital. Even in a relatively big town like Seattle, it can be hard to escape the Catholic medical system if you want a job in health care. Doubt all you like, but for many people the choice is to work for a Catholic institution or not have a job. All of which is tangential to the point of this post: only in matters of female sexuality would anyone think an employer’s religious beliefs ought to have anything to do with the health insurance offered to employees.

  11. It may not be perfect but nfp is a viable option. If someone wants to work in healthcare bad enough but they can’t stand Catholics they can move… Ppl who want to act go to NYC or California, they don’t try to get laws passed so businesses have to cater to their personal wants in their hometowns. The bottom line is that you can’t force someone to provide for something that’s against their religion. And it’s not limited to a woman’s health or sexuality. You won’t find catholic hospitals providing euthanasias either because they don’t believe in it. Contraception is the same thing in their eyes. Catholics are pro-life and if u want ppl to respect your beliefs- respect theirs.

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