Monday, February 25, 2013

A Woman's Identity...

“Part of their identity is the potential to be a mother,” Pedulla said. “They are being asked to suppress and radically contradict part of their own identity, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they are being asked to poison their bodies.”
Dr. Dominic Pedulla of Oklahoma on why birth control is poison and insurance companies shouldn't have to cover it.


This is a quote that infuriated me from an article on ThinkProgress about a bill which has recently passed an Oklahoma State Senate committee and is on its way to the full Senate in the nearish future.  The whole bill infuriates me.  It's another one of these bills designed to allow a woman's employer to decide what she should do with her body.  Super-quack, Dominic Pedulla, wanted to buy a small-group insurance plan for his family, but he is morally opposed to birth control and thus does not want his insurance to cover it.  Is your wife morally opposed to birth control, Dom?  Do you have daughters?  Are they morally opposed to birth control?  Oh, I'm sorry.  I get it.  See, you don't want your health insurance to cover birth control in case one of your women-folk go behind your back and get some.  

Birth control doesn't suppress or radically contradict a woman's identity because, like a man, a woman can decide who she is and what she wants to do with her life.  Now, you may call me a femi-nazi or whatever the popular terminology is these days for a woman who thinks with her brain and then transfers those thoughts out into the ether so that you have to consume them.  As a feminist, I believe that women have the right to make their own choices about their bodies and their lives.  If one woman chooses to get married and make a career of raising children, that's her choice.  I respect that.  If, however, a woman chooses to follow the path to a career outside the home, I support that too.  One of the choices that every woman should get to make for herself, but that increasing numbers of crotchety old white dudes are trying to make for them, is whether or not to have children and when.  Having the right to choose to be or not to be a mother is meaningless without the means to make that choice a reality.  If you're interested in reading about all the many and fantastic rational reasons that access is a huge and important part of reproductive justice, please read this article.  

Know that when people like "Dr." Pedulla say that birth control suppresses a part of a woman's identity, what they mean is that women are meant to be baby machines.  They mean that women are useful only for cooking, cleaning, and raising children.  The attitude of many conservatives in this country towards women makes Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale seem frighteningly possible.  (If you haven't read it, you should.)

It was only last year that Pennsylvania's own Governor, when talking about the scandal over forcing women to have trans-vaginal ultrasounds in an attempt to guilt them into not having abortions by forcing them to look at the fetus inside them, "I don't know how to make anyone watch an ultra-sound, you just have to close your eyes."  Yes.  That was his answer.  We're going to make someone shove a medical instrument in your vagina for no actual medical reason in order lay some sort of guilt trip on you, but hey, just close your eyes.  In my own personal opinion, mandatory trans-vaginal ultrasounds are nothing less than state-sponsored rape, and feel free to quote me on that.  

The fight continues over reproductive rights in this country against all possible logic.  The argument is nearly the same for access to reproductive health care options as it is for LGBT equality: I don't believe in it so you shouldn't have it.  This is an argument that gets equal billing with science and rational thought.  I will say, at least once a day, that no one is forcing anyone to take birth control pills.  This is much the same as when I say, "hey man, no one is forcing you to marry a dude."  

Women are not your breeding stock.  We are no longer your chattel.  A woman's identity does not rely solely on her ability to produce children.  Our bodies are our own and not yours to make decisions about.  Anyone is free to disagree with what I do with my body, but their disagreement does not rise to the level of being able to decide what I should or should not do.  I think "Dr." Pedulla's beliefs are abhorrent, but I'm not trying to get legislation passed to stop him from having them and there's the difference.  You can apply your beliefs to yourself until the cows come home, but when you start applying them to millions of women, then we have a problem.  

I see that the legislator who's attempting to pass this heinous bill, State Sen. Clark Jolley, is one of those delightful state legislators who are so fond of gerrymandering their way into what basically amounts to a lifetime appointment to office.  Quelle surprise! Sometimes my sarcasm goes so far that it jumps right out of the English language.  Seriously, though, as atrocious as this man is, he is no anomaly.  There are legislators like him all over the country.  His breed should be very familiar to us here in Pennsylvania.  People like this will continue to try to legislate us into their own personal conservative wonderland unless people stand up and say, "Enough!"  If you respect that all human beings, whatever gender they may be, have the right to make decisions about their bodies, then you must speak loudly against people like this.  If there is any tyranny in government, it comes from people like this.