Our Body Is Not Your Religion

Today, a decision made by the Supreme Court allows employers’ religious beliefs or moral objections to dictate a woman’s access to birth control as part of her health plan. I have been under the impression that an employer provided health plan is intended to be a benefit of employment, not a tool for control. I am lucky enough to be employed under no such circumstances and yet this angers me. It angers me because it affects women who do not find themselves in such a lucky, privileged place. Because under the original ACA there existed a provision that allowed many nonprofit organizations with religious affiliations to opt-out due to religious objections. Under this provision, employers were required to notify the government or their insurance company so that the insurance company could provide free birth control options to individual employees, but separate from the employer’s plan. Yet some of these organizations felt that signing an opt-out form or notifying their plan administrator was the same as authorizing the use of their plan for birth control.

(Facts above summarized from NPR article: https://www.npr.org/2020/07/08/884104509/supreme-court-undercuts-access-to-birth-control-under-obamacare). 

A word that stands out to me about this decision is, authorize

Who are they to authorize a woman’s right to decide for herself what road she will take in the event of an unwanted pregnancy or her options to prevent an unwanted pregnancy to begin with? 

Birth control affords women better peace of mind of being placed in the horrible position of having to decide whether or not to end an unwanted pregnancy. To abort a life. I know deep in my bones, that decision is never an easy one to make. The decision to abort is a potentiality women hold in their mind for their entire childbearing years. While I have never been placed in such a position and do not fear this potentiality as much anymore as I am closer to an age of considering a wanted pregnancy, that does not negate that there are plenty of young women now who still hold that burden. 

It saddens me that under the original ACA provision, there seemed to be a compromise that protected the rights of the employer and the employed. Compromise is important in an America that is so heavily polarized by identity politics. Compromise is important in any partnership for healthy growth. In a time when so many Americans are disheartened with the systems that govern them, this feels like another defeat on top of so many others. It’s a decision that makes me feel more disconnected from being an American than ever. I had held onto hope that in a modern America, such archaic, religiously extremist sentiments could be overcome. Though I am disheartened by this ruling, I am choosing to continue to use that fire to use my voice and my right to vote in more government officials who believe in individual rights. I will push the ideal of freedom to choose our own childbearing destiny because our body is not their religion. 

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