They didn’t quite come right out and say it, but they kind of forgot to check their privilege and do some, you know, research before proclaiming a bunch of untruths about the birth control pill as a medication. And they don’t just want you to hear the untruths; they want to restrain your insurance coverage based on alleged facts that are both untrue and incomplete.
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is once more trying to flex its muscles. Not happy to have simply pushed to remove all abortion coverage from health care reform, they now have a new target: making sure birth control isn’t covered, either.
An organization representing U.S. Catholic bishops is asking federal regulators not to classify contraceptives and sterilization as preventive services, thus entitling them to full coverage under the health care reform law, in final rules.
Quite a few types of preventive care are to be covered, but they don’t want birth control on that list. The most obvious reasons why this is both stupid and misogynistic have to do with pregnancy: it would mean that women who can’t afford birth control or abortions can’t afford to have sex. Now, as repugnant as you may find that stance, it is actually a sound perspective – insofar as it goes. But when you combine this with the fact that Catholics encourage people to marry het-style, and the Bible says a wife can’t deny her husband sex, and that sex shouldn’t be enjoyed in any form but the reproductive kind, and it shouldn’t be with someone of your own gender so as to avoid the whole pregnancy issue, and you’re not even allowed to kill yourself, then one could also infer they are saying poor women who can’t afford birth control shouldn’t get married. What is this? A way to force women into the convent?
But I digress. Because there’s a less subtle reason why what the bishops are urging is sick: it could result in deaths for women. And I’m not talking just about pregnancy complication deaths, though those are important (but everyone’s already decided whether or not they think women should have to die to have babies, so I’m not getting into it just now). The bishops say, incorrectly (they’re trusting “correlation=causation” pseudoscience), that the pill causes a bunch of health problems:
Cancer is not the only problem. Contraceptive Technology cites numerous studies in which estrogen in contraceptives has been associated with increased risk of heart attacks, strokes, blood clots, and hypertension.
Now, read that carefully, and then read the following carefully. One in four women have Polycystic Ovarian Symdrome, or PCOS. It is not so thoroughly understood at this point, and is probably actually a collection of several quite different disorders, all of which result in irregular or non-existent menstruation and infertility. Interestingly, it seems that menstruating gives women some protection against heart attacks and various other things that contribute to why men don’t live as long on average as we do. Having PCOS renders that protection moot, and raises a woman’s risk for heart problems and so on. Additionally, PCOS seems to cause (or at least be strongly associated with) ovarian cancer, which is one of those cancers that’s typically not found until it’s too late to save the patient’s life.
Guess what simple medical treatment restores to a woman with PCOS her protection against heart attacks and all that jazz, and significantly reduces her chances of ovarian cancer? C’mon, guess! That’s right – birth control pills. And this is why OB-GYNs routinely prescribe the pill to women with PCOS who are not currently looking to get pregnant. Yes, folks: the birth control pill is saving the lives of not only stinkly ol’ women, but wholesome virgins and pious wives, like, you know, Mary, Mother of Jesus. But ultimately, I guess we must infer this group would rather those women die than some disgusting sex-haver get the benefit of birth control. Wow. Harsh.
It’s not exactly difficult to phone an OB-GYN’s office and say, “What all is the pill prescribed for, other than the obvious?” Go ahead, I’ll give you thirty seconds to try it yourself and see.
Or, maybe if you’re not a doctor, you should shut up, get back in your little confessional booth, and enjoy your tax-free status while you still have it because it’s about time somebody launched a massive campaign to get government-interfering churches to pay massive back taxes. If separation of church and state is only protecting the church, then the church can start coughing up some income taxes.
The Bishops certainly aren’t the only group that needs to shut up and let doctors practice medicine. I’m sure they aren’t even the only religious group pressuring politicians into making their concept of morality into law. All of these people need to tend to their own business and their own morality morasses and let the government focus on what’s practical instead of one powerful group’s oddball definition of morality.
And in closing, here’s a promise: if I ever get it in my head that some men-only medication should be made harder for men to get their hands on, I will phone up a doctor and make sure it doesn’t have any other healthful uses instead of assuming I know everything because I know the obvious.
God, save us from Your followers.