I can’t help but notice the chat from some bloggers like Rachel and Matt who live in your country about this news story, and I wanted to write to you about it. I’m not American. But I am a woman. I believe in God. I try to follow the teachings of Jesus and have done since I was 18 years old. Not that it should require me to be a Christian for my viewpoint to matter.
I also have a degree in Health Sciences where I specialised my research and reading into women’s health at one of the universities that has been at the forefront of abortion and maternity care research. Since 2006 I have trained and used counselling skills to support women and men faced with unwanted pregnancies and since 2008, supported women who have struggled to come to terms with terminating pregnancies and with loss through miscarriage. I’ve also spent a great deal of my years as a youth worker talking to teenagers about sexual health and relationships.
So I feel that when it comes to commenting on a debate about whether or not employer’s should have a say in what insurance companies provide for their employees in terms of contraceptive drugs…I have something to contribute.
Your health insurance system.
USA your healthcare system sickens me, because you have made healthcare a business. I was shocked to hear that someone I know got charged $50 for eyedrops to cure her conjunctivitis (not to mention extra just for the visit to a doctor to give her the prescription). I’ve had conjunctivitis as an adult, and have gone to the pharmacy to have my eye diagnosed and given eyedrops. It cost me less than £8 and it was totally outside the NHS.
The fact is the numbers you are giving for what these things cost are not so much about what they cost but what your health care providers and pharmaceutical companies decide to charge – so they can make a profit.
Personally, I don’t think it’s right that employers EVER have a say about what we spend our wages on. And definitely not what health insurance can provide.
Your over-medicalisation of pregnancy and childbirth and the insane costs you have for antenatal care prevent many women from having care they need and is what makes you have the worst maternal and infant morbidity and mortality rates in the Western World. The fact is that the decision you allowed to be made this week will probably mean that for many women abortion may be the only viable option available to them. That’s not pro-life or pro-choice. It’s you asserting your power in an oppressive way by creating a situation of increased vulnerability.
Hobby Lobby hypocrisy
I think Hobby Lobby needs to take a good long look at the ethics of their company. They say they’re ‘Christians’. Well, look at the bible, look at what Jesus said and taught. Where are they investing their money? It seems to me like they have one set of standards to suit themselves (and make profits) and another for when it comes to looking after their employees.
Afforable healthcare is needed. I wish you had something like the NHS in your country USA, but you don’t. It’s time to look at what’s important, what is ethical and separate the church from the state.
Why women have abortions
The majority of women I’ve met who have terminated a pregnancy have done so because they have realised that the father is a total arsehole and they do not wish to be tied trying to parent with them for the rest of their lives and/or due to finances. Childcare costs alone are insane. One of my friends only made £50 per month working full-time after she’d paid for child care costs for just one child.
Not to mention the fear that they won’t get support from their employers or universities, or the judgment they will face from others. Some have abortions for medical reasons. I’ve met women who have children already and have faced the choice of terminating an early pregnancy so they can have treatment for cancer or continue with the pregnancy, have pregnancy hormones help growth of tumours so cancer becomes terminal and leave all their children without a mother. I’ve also met women for whom continuing with pregnancy would mean facing possibility of permanent paralysis. I’ve met women who have mental illnesses where staying pregnant means coming off medication which they are being treated with.
Contraceptive drugs are not just used for contraception.
Just the same as some drugs mainly known for treating cancers can be used for a variety of other things, contraceptive drugs aren’t just used for contraception. Not that it is anyone’s business but I am not sexually active and have not been since I was a teenager. I don’t plan on ever becoming sexually active unless I get married. That’s my personal choice. However, I have been on many contraceptive drugs since I was 15 years old. Why? Because unfortunately for me having a menstrual cycle has made me very ill to the point where I would be throwing up, fainting or screaming in pain which my doctor suspects is due to a disease called Endometriosis. I went through a time as a teenager where I was getting anaemic because my menstrual cycle was only 3 weeks long so I was bleeding about 14-20 days of the month. They put me on the combined contraceptive pill to try and put me on a normal cycle. Sadly for me this triggered migraines so I had to stop taking the pill. The contraceptive pill is something many women with Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome will be given to try and get them into a normal cycle (although in their case it is usually because they aren’t having periods for months on end). I went on painkillers, I went on drugs which tried to prevent heavy bleeding. I often had side effects from these drugs, and in the end they didn’t help me. To be able to do anything I would have to take paracetamol and aspirin (the only painkillers I didn’t get side effects from) all the time and wear heat patches under my clothes. A few times I took a progesterone only pill called Norethisterone to delay my menstrual cycle (or attempt to) so I could sing and dance at events and productions or even go on holiday. But the hormones turned me into a bit of a crazy person that couldn’t hold things without dropping them and cried at well…everything. Eventually the only choice I had before trying surgery was to go on a contraceptive drug called Depo Provera. It gets injected into my hip/buttock every 12 weeks by a nurse. This stops me having a menstrual cycle at all. It has come with the consequence of weight gain but it has meant that for the last 5 years I’ve been able to go to work, lead worship at youth events without covering my back and abdomen in sticky patches and not end up in A&E because I’ve been found passed out from pain by someone who didn’t know that this was ‘normal’. It’s also been a long time since I had concussion from cracking my head off a bathroom sink or wall while simultaneously wretching and passing out from pain. Over five years in fact.
I also have other female friends who went on contraceptive drugs to help with acne too. And no, it didn’t make them jump into bed with the first teenage boy they saw at a party because the treatment they were using was also a contraceptive.
It makes me fearful USA that one day God might lead me to live in your country. The idea that perhaps my employer might prevent me from getting medical treatment because it is marketed as a contraceptive drug terrifies me. Plus the idea that if I get cancer I would have the financial stress of medical costs not covered by insurance. Or that if by some miracle I did get pregnant you wouldn’t allow me to give birth naturally or trying to add extra 3-D ultrasound scans to my ‘bill’ for doing my bit to keep the human race going.
Please, please USA do your research before you label, make generalisations and decisions that could stop your female employees from getting treatment they need or making a choice about their health so they don’t end up in a situation where they need to consider a termination. Ask before you judge. And don’t assume that just because you’re lucky enough to have a family that would help you care for all the children that end up in YOUR uterus, every other women is just as lucky. Or that they have the extra money for your insane costs for healthcare. Or paying for their future children’s college education.