On Friday a couple of real life friends and I went to the Rally for Religious Liberty in Baltimore. (Let's all take this moment to laugh about Eddie Izzard's plan for a Reason Rally. "HAHAHAHAHA!!! That's right, you sheep!! Only a STUPID IDIOT could believe in God. Baaaaaaaa!!!" Atheists are so funny.) It got me thinking--without the use of reason, of course, because I threw that out with my conversion--about the HHS mandate and why I think it's such a bad thing. The following is the conversation I had with my sexually active Imaginary Friend (IF) who so generously offered her undivided attention.
IF: so after reading your last post it seems like you think that everything you and your church think is a sin should be illegal, right?
Me: no, no, no, that's not what I meant at all! I don't think sodomy or oral sex or masturbation or anything like that should be illegal. If every sin were against the law, sooner or later we'd all be in jail.
IF: then why are you so upset about the HHS mandate? You don't think the use of contraceptives should be illegal?
Me: no! even Pope John Paul 2 acknowledged that some women have medical reasons to take what we refer to as the birth control pill for hormone therapy. There is nothing wrong with using a drug for serious medical reasons. And although the Church says that using condoms or undergoing voluntary non-medical sterilization is wrong, nobody is trying to make these things illegal. The Pope might not think you should be having sex in the first place, but nobody thinks you should be thrown in jail for it.
Me: things get more complicated when we talk about using the birth control pill for contraceptive reasons because studies show that it can work as an abortifacient, which means conception may have taken place but the egg was then flushed from the woman's system, making birth control pills similar to the morning after pill. If you believe that life starts at conception then you see this as an abortion and the killing of a baby. But regardless of when you think life begins, it's clear that terminating a pregnancy even at the earliest moment quenches the potential life that began to exist at the moment of conception.
Me: But the point is that nobody should be forced to help another person do something immoral.
IF: but, what if we think you're being dumb in saying that women shouldn't use contraceptives? Why should we have to go along with it?
Me: well, what if? What if I think it's dumb that Judaism doesn't allow people to eat pork products. What if the government were to mandate that all cafeterias must sell pork? And refuse to make an exception for Jewish organizations that employ non-Jews or even serve non-Jews?
IF: but the Obama administration made an accommodation!
Me: the accommodation allowed the organizations to fund the unconscionable services indirectly rather than directly by forcing insurance companies to pay for the service. That's still unconscionable. What if we told our Jewish friends from the above example that they would have to provide pork in their cafeteria but they could contract out to a non-Jewish company? That's more insulting than it is a reasonable solution.
IF: but what about all the non-Catholics working for Catholic organizations?
Me: as one of my friends said, "would you accept a job with PETA and expect them to hand out free hamburgers?"
IF: but come on, we're not talking about pork and hamburgers here. We're talking about women's health. That's more serious.
Me: It is a matter of women's health! Birth control pills are actually dangerous to a woman's health, from side effects that I've experienced firsthand including rampant UTIs and deterioration of vision and increased blood pressure to more serious effects including blood clots and cancer, not to mention the fact that many women have a hard time regaining fertility after long term use. But that's beside the point.
Me: as a woman there are many things that are more important to me than being able to have consequenceless sex. Like being able to see! For example, the government could choose to mandate that I have access to free contact lenses. That would be awesome. And nobody thinks wearing contact lenses is immoral. If we can't cover everything, why insist on covering something that some people feel is immoral?
IF: yeah, but you don't need contact lenses. You could just wear your glasses. Women need contraceptives.
Me: I can see better with my contacts than with my glasses! And besides, women can use Natural Family Planning which, admittedly, requires some level of self control but has been shown to be as effective as the pill--and has no side effects!!
IF: but Obama says that the money women spend on contraceptives is money that could be spent on groceries or rent.
Me: So Obama feels that poor women are so addicted to sex that they would rather be evicted or stop eating than abstain from sexual relations? I find that offensive. And is it really that hard to find cheap or free contraceptives without this mandate? Surely it's not only in academia where we're having free condoms thrown at us from every direction? I was under the impression that women can get free birth control and morning after pills from clinics like Obama's beloved Planned Parenthood.
IF: I don't see why you're making such a big deal out of this. It's hardly going to effect anybody.
Me: It's a huge deal! As soon as the government forces one group, not matter how small, to do something that they believe is morally wrong then we can never use that argument against unjust laws. At the Rally for Religious Liberty, Ambassador Alan Keyes gave the example of pre-Civil War laws requiring anyone who has knowledge of the whereabouts of an escaped slave to take action to return that slave to his or her owner. People disobeyed that law for the same reason that many organizations will disobey the mandate, because following it violated their consciences. It's not just a Catholic problem. Many Protestant Pastors and Rabbis participated in the rallies. This is the sort of precedent that should make even a secular atheist nervous. And that is why the case of HHS vs. Florida will be heard by the Supreme Court this week.
IF: Well. My birth control pills are more important to me than your conscience.
Me: Sigh. You and Obama have made that abundantly clear.