Tag Archives: birth control

How Religion Impacts Society: Birth Control and Homosexuality

I read a lot of British history on the kings and queens of medieval society.   A common parallel I find between that time and ours is the misuse of religion and religious influence in the public sphere.  At one time, priests placated the starving populations by telling them that God blessed the kings and blessed those that followed the king unquestioningly, even though many kings were highly immoral in how they behaved and used funds: hosting lush feasts while their citizens were starving, engaging in lewd and adulterous behaviours with various mistresses, and going to war on the people’s budget without reasonable cause.  The medieval period was a bloody reminder that Christ’s name could be abused for a cause and we only need to remember the crusades, the inquisitions, and other events as reasons behind the legislation separating church and state in the US and various other countries.

Yet, I still see evidence of religions and religious leaders using similar tactics to impose their version of morality on general society.

Recently, President Obama passed a birth control rule that requires that health insurance companies pick up the cost of birth control as part of his Affordable Care Act.  However, the catholic church and other religions have come out against it claiming it violates their religious freedom (even after the compromise).  (I respect the complicated nature of this legislation and how some might see it as an infringement on their religious rights; however, the constitution says: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof,” Obama’s rule does not state that a woman MUST take birth control, it is expanding access and decreasing the cost to birth control so that women everywhere might afford it.)

Which leads me to the other issue: homosexuality.  Last week, California courts declared Proposition 8 illegal.  A huge victory for the homosexual population.  Yet, many religious groups came out crying “foul” and exclaiming that the people had spoken while the courts had unconstitutionally overturned it (funny because I thought it was the court’s place to determine constitutionality, or interpret the law).   The campaigns against gay marriage call it a “sin” and a “threat to traditional marriage.”  Legislating purely on religious beliefs without research that shows these claims as logical would be an infringement on first amendment rights–that  religious organizations’ beliefs should not supersede popular opinion and natural rights.

In the past, religious leaders fought against woman’s suffrage and inter-racial marriage claiming the same moral issues.  A woman is subject to her husband and shouldn’t be engaging in public discourse anyway, or so the bible says.  And African-Americans, from the 1600’s-1970’s, were considered inferior to the white race–a doctrine taught in religious congregations all over the country.  Yet we would all agree that these ideas are outdated and certainly not true; unfortunately, the same logic is used to hold women back by denying access to birth control and exclaiming disapproval over homosexuality–which is increasingly shown as a genetic variation not a choice as some would claim–by blocking their ability to marry.

I am very disappointed with religious organizations, who often claim to have first-hand knowledge of what our forefathers want, attempts to infringe on the very clear constitutional amendment that separates church and state.  To claim moral superiority over the majority tears down important conversations on key issues in our country. Building a united and poverty/minority-minded nation requires compromise from all sides of the spectrum.  I feel that caring for the poor of our country should be the most important issue and we shouldn’t allow religious beliefs or disbelief in the public sector to overshadow that goal.

I want to emphasize that I know many wonderful Christian (and other religious) folks who care for minorities and would disagree with the overt religious influence on certain policies.  I just wish this respect would rise to the top of religious organizations.

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Filed under Social Issues

I Blame My Hair

I remember when I was young and care-free.  I would wake up, work-out, shower, eat breakfast, blow-dry my hair, and all those other things to make myself beautiful.  I loved the mornings.  I didn’t like to get up, per se, but I did like the feeling of waking before the birds and completing tedious tasks long before I needed to set out to work or class.  I felt accomplished and I did my hair.  Every day.  No exceptions (ok, unless I didn’t wake up early).

Around the time of my third miscarriage, I had grown to hate that hair styling tool meant to blow dry my hair into beautiful locks.  It never did.  Instead, I would labor in front of the mirror getting sweatier by the minute, blowing that darned heat in the direction of the wet mop on my head and willing it to style my hair so I wouldn’t have to use the straightener.  Alas, my wavy tresses made that impossible.  And my kids made the task not only tedious but life-threatening as they attempted to touch the socket, grab the hot straightener, and cause all kinds of havoc with their sweet, little hands.

I decided to shower and work out at night.

Once we arrived in MO, and started medical school, things shifted yet again.  With Ben’s schedule changing weekly, there are nights he is at home and nights he is gone and no advanced warning as to which it will be.  It fully depends on his homework load and his studying pace.  As my love for mornings dwindled with each pregnancy, I have scorned the thought of getting up before my children.  Surely there would be opportunities to workout and shower at night.  But here we are, 2 months into our routine, and I still don’t have a routine.

Did any of you read NPR’s article entitled “Prioritizing Health or Hair?”  I am sure the idea in this–that women are choosing their locks over their health–caused quite a few guffaws from educated readers.  Unless they were moms.  I mean, who has time to exercise AND look beautiful?  When I actually find the energy to straighten my hair, do you really think I’m going to ruin it by exercising?  Heck no.

For many of you readers, you must remember me bemoaning the 20 lbs I gained from birth control.  I ditched the evil pill and am now contending with the extra weight.  Clearly I must decide between styling my hair and exercising–it’s one or the other folks.

I think I might go back to AM exercising.  My kids don’t wake up at night so I really don’t have an excuse for limited Z’s until I remember that IT’S THE MORNING.  Who wakes up just to sweat in the morning?

So I blame my hair for my extra weight.

Until I remember that I don’t do my hair, either.  Drat.

Heather has asked that we just write. So I did. You can too.

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Filed under Random Thoughts, Uncategorized

On Abortion and Education

As a young girl, I viewed abortion as the ultimate evil.  From my perspective, people who performed or received abortions did not value human life.  They were baby-hating monsters.

I remember the first time I felt Emily move.  The sensation was surreal; the closest I’ve come to a spiritual experience.  It also verified my views surrounding abortion.  As she grew in my uterus, and my belly expanded, I would place my hand over her kicking feet and imagine what she looked like.  My heart was full of happy anticipation as I envisioned what meeting her would be like.  I would wonder how a person could abort such a precious gift.

My miscarriages enforced this notion.  All I wanted was a baby, but my body refused to cooperate; instead, I underwent spontaneous abortions.  Unlike women who had surgery to rid their body of an unwanted pregnancy, I had no choice in this decision.

All these thoughts left me feeling bitter.  Rather than learning about the populations who had abortions, I harshly–and prematurely–judged their hearts and prided myself with exceptional moral thinking.  Clearly these people were cold, unfeeling creatures with little regard for human life.  Heck, they probably sanctioned atrocities like physician assisted suicide or the eugenics movement.

When I shed my false pretenses, around the same time I started questioning religion, I allowed myself to fully consider a woman whose desire to be a mother is juxtaposed with her wretched situation: no partner, no income, no resources.  Rather than view these experiences from my very biased perspective, I pictured myself in their situation.

Ben and I might be below the poverty line but we are not impoverished.  We also don’t consider ourselves to be low-income; we have bachelor’s degrees, are attending or considering attending graduate school, and grew up in stable homes.  We are privileged.  So to fully consider what it’s like to be a pregnant girl while living in the ghetto, I needed to look at things from her background.

This shift had a profound impact on my views regarding “pro-choice” or “pro-life.”

The problem with these stances are the dichotomy they represent: if you align yourself pro-choice, you don’t care about babies; if you are pro-life, you regard an infant’s life over a mother’s.

Each side villainizes the other while refusing to concede important concessions: health of a mother, consequences of having sex, the importance of birth control.  And both sides marginalize the most affected populations: the low-income and undereducated woman.

With this in mind, I have a proposal:  let’s kill the ideologies.  I feel a person could be pro-life and pro-choice.  My theory derives from this hypothesis: if we offer educational resources to the low-income and teenager populations, abortion rates will decline.  I am not talking about sex education, something I feel is equally important (heck, I wrote about it two years ago), but classes on reproduction, child development, college preparation, career placement, and feminism.

How might these classes mend a broken system?  By empowering women.  I think a well known fact is, education equals power.  Consider this, when you fully research all options available to you, a decision becomes much easier to make.  It also feels good.  If a girl knows more about her body, and about the future opportunities available to her, she will feel less inclined to (excuse my explicit description) open her legs to every man who comes along.  She will know that her femininity is something to honor, not display.

I believe this is where feminism plays an important role.  As a girl discovers the power within herself, the power of being a woman, she will recognize that her place in this patriarchal society is to let her femaleness out.  To roar.  Loudly.

Learning the history of how woman have been treated over the ages will give her the precedent to change the current system.  She will recognize that she is not a second-class citizen; rather, she is as important as the man who attempts to exploit her sexuality.  More importantly, she is in charge of her sexuality.

Yes, a person can be pro-choice and pro-life.  We can recognize the beauty in child birth, and the special gift it is to woman, while also informing women of their choice to be powerful rather than submissive.   Let’s be rid of harmful ideologies and move toward a more progressive and, ultimately, loving philosophy.

Babies and woman are important.  But if a woman is not allowed to fully express her femininity, she cannot bear and rear children with a firm foundation.  It’s more than about life, it’s about hope. And hope comes from opportunity and knowledge.  I think we can all agree on that.

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Filed under Feminism