Friday, March 10, 2006

Equality-- where the hell is it?

Some of you might think I'm a little obsessed with women's rights.

Believe me, I agree with you. But I'm obsessed because I have to be. Sometimes I'm embarrassed that all I do is send $ to planned parenthood and write on my blog. I should be in the streets marching. Today was supposed to be my day off. I had a midterm and a hair appointment, then I was gonna return home and chill -- the apartment all to myself for spring break! But it seems I just can't escape these issues.

In my quest to find health insurance, I've been calling around different agents getting info. Imagine my shock when I realized, this anti-choice, crazy agenda was effecting ME. No one will cover birth control! Today I was telling my hair stylist this and she said, "Oh, it's probably just because of the risk." But all drugs carry risk. Viagra has been linked with heart problems and THAT is covered. SO THEN... I talked to one of the women I worked with this summer-- she told me that people have been lobbying our state legislature for years to make all insurance companies cover women's contraception. It is always defeated.

So this afternoon I called Blue Cross Blue Shield back. So far, I am NOT IMPRESSED with them. First of all, every time you call you have to listen to 2 minutes of "press one for this, press two for so-and-so" -- I hate that. Then, even though I tell them I just want to ask an agent some questions, they make me give my: name, address, date of birth, phone number and parents health plan ID number. Makes me want to scream. THEN they transfer me to an agent who asks me all the same info AGAIN.

Today I finally got a person to talk to me. Here's our conversation:

ME: Do you have any plans that DO cover birth control?
ME: Okay. Is this because of risks?
B.C.: NO. You can get birth control if you doctor writes a letter to our insurance company stating you have a medical condition that requires birth control. But we won't cover it for contraceptive purposes.
ME: Are you serious?
B.C.: Yes.
ME: That is ridiculous. I need a "doctor's note" stating I'm using a drug for a reason other than family planning.
B.C.: Basically
ME: Okay, my doctor prescribed this drug. Why is it their business if I'm using it for irregular periods or family planning? Family planning is safe and something you SHOULD want your customers doing. I mean, it costs a lot less to buy birth control pills than to pay for maternity costs.
B.C.: Yes, I know. Some businesses offer it as a health insurance "perk" but many do not.
ME: Well I'm not going through a business that offers it as a perk. This is really making me question whether or not I want to take out insurance through Blue Cross. This is not only blatantly sexist but also stupid.
B.C.: I understand. But not many companies in North Dakota will be much better. I'm sorry.

*insert annoyed scream here*

Why do I need a note? Would they ever ask a man for a note? Can you imagine?? "Sir, we just have to prove that you're using this Viagra to have sex with your wife and not have an affair-- standard procedure. Please just go see your doctor and we'll let you know if we can cover your Viagra in 4-6 weeks."

Just now I checked my mailbox. Blue Cross sent me the packet of info I requested two days ago. They had addressed it to "Eric." Oh the irony, if my name were Eric, I wouldn't have to get a doctor's note proving I'm not a whore.


Sarah said...

Whenever you're ready to go march in the street let me know because I will be right there with you. I love you!!!! (Even if you're not coming to visit.)

I can't believe it is considered a 'perk' by some companies. Wow. Just, wow.

Adrienne said...

Hey Emily--

I know it's probably strange talking to me (or did I just make it strange by saying that? who knows.)

Anyway: I've been having a bit of a crisis of faith lately; I'll spare you the details; but I was wondering how you reconcile your Christian faith with your beliefs about abortion and feminism. I find that I'm having a really hard time, because I am so liberal, to keep going to church when they keep telling me that I'm so wrong, and I just really don't feel that I am. Most of my friends have renounced their faith because of it: and I'm not THERE yet, but I am curious about how someone is able to make it. Thoughts?

Tobes said...

Religion is tricky when it comes to reproductive rights. I love my faith community but I have found myself avoiding it lately. I was part of their study on how the congregations felt about accepting homosexuals and when that failed I lost a lot of faith in my faith congregation. It's unfair of me, but it's how I feel right now. I still feel a close bond with God and will continue to say proudly that I am Christian. I am progressive and I know Christianity is about more than gays and abortion. That being said...

I truly hope people in your faith community are not actively making you feel bad for any decisions or beliefs you have made. I would be curious to know what specifically their "deal" is but it might interest you to check out Planned Parenthood's magazine "CHOICE" A link can be found on my blog. They have an article that deals with the Bible and Abortion.


"The first five books of the Bible have a great deal to say about sexuality and reproduction. For instance, Adam and Eve are expected to cling together, as though becoming one body (Genesis 2:24). In describing the first birth, the book of Genesis, though speaking euphemistically, wants us all to know that Adam and Eve actually had sex (Genesis 4:1)! In Egypt, Hebrew midwives report that the women of Israel recover quickly from their deliveries (Exodus 1). And the book of Leviticus (18) devotes many verses to its view of permissible intimate relations. This Jewish Bible that has so very much to say about sex is, nevertheless, totally silent about abortion.

Some contend that the Bible approaches the subject of abortion in Exodus
(21) when two brawling men accidentally strike a pregnant woman. If the woman is injured, the inadvertent assailant gets punished, receiving the very same wound he caused the woman: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth. If the woman dies, then it is a life for a life and the man who caused the injury dies. But if the woman miscarries, then the assailant just pays a fine.

So, an injury caused to the woman is one thing. The injury to her fetus is not viewed the same way. This same biblical passage does not say that the fetus is a human being like the injured women or like you or me. If the fetus were considered human, the punishment for injuring the fetus would be the same punishment as that for injuring the pregnant woman."

"People who want to make abortion illegal may attempt to use the Bible to justify their arguments. However, nothing in the Hebrew Scriptures and nothing in the New Testament supports their attempts, regardless of the passages they cite or how hard they argue. Scripture does not consider the fetus to be a human being. The Bible does not consider the destruction of a fetus to be the equivalent of murder. If the Bible thought abortion was a sin, it would have named it a sin. Instead, when it comes to abortion, the Bible says not a word."

I would suggest going to planned parenthood's website for more. There is a section where members of the clergy speak out.

That's the most I can say without knowing more specifics.

Me personally, like I said. I have a hard time reconciling myself to knowing that my community will not want to move as fast as I do. But I do have faith that progressing is inevitable and the church community (those who aren't CRAZY fundamentalist) will come to accept women's reproductive rights-- perhaps not abortion, because I don't think ANYONE is that comfortable with abortion. But the church may come to accept contraception and adequate sexual healthcare which will in turn drastically reduce the need for abortion.

In the meantime, try and find a community of like minded people and remember that you do not owe anyone an explanation for choices or beliefs. They are between you and God. Being pro-choice does not make a sinner or murderer.


Adrienne said...

I read an article today in the Omaha World Herald, and I'm trying to remember the details of it... but basically there is a class action law suit in Michigan... basically men suing for the right to get a court order demanding that a woman either get an abortion or they be released of ALL parental duties. The plaintiffs last name was Delay... I'll try to find the article again.

Christy said...

I totally agree with you that birth control should be covered by health insurance!! You'd think they'd listen to the voice of reason in terms of not only equality but maternity costs being higher.

Tobes said...

Amen to that Christy! It's so ridiculous. Many married women want to control the spacing and number of their children. Contracpetion is the way to do that. Why would insurance ignore that?

Adrienne-- I saw that story too! Ridiculous. I wrote on your blog by the way...

Anonymous said...

Insurance companies cannot cover everything. Do they cover tylenol, and tums or vitamins that you buy at the pharmacies? NO!!! Why should they have to cover birth control? This issue has absolutely nothing to do with equality between men and women! Stop acting like the victim; be happy you are a woman.

God created women as able to give birth. It is a miracle! Don't whine about birth control, it just doesn't make sense. Buy the pill just like you buy your groceries. Men don't get insurance coverage on condoms, do they? I didn't think so.

Tobes said...

Insurance companies don't cover everything; you are right. But comparing Tylenol and vitamins with birth control just makes your entire argument laughable.

Tylenol and vitamins are both over the counter medications that anyone can buy if they want to manage aches and pains or get some extra calcium.

Controlling fertility and the number of children one has is absolutely crucial.

Of course this is an equality issue. Men might not get condoms covered but they sure do get Viagra covered. Perhaps in this day and age condoms should be covered- ever think about that. With the risk of S.T.I.'s like HIV, herpes etc such a problem. Luckily if that never happens, condom can still be bought in most gas station bathrooms for 50 cents. I don't see many birth control dispensers.

Do you know there was a time when a woman could be fired for getting pregnant? Luckily that too has changed but having a baby -- the 9 months plus delivery alone means thousands upon THOUSANDS of dollars in medical fees. Then well... I don't even need to tell you what the next 18-20 years are going to cost. And that's assuming you have a perfectly healthy kid.

Women, especially married women who have sex on a regular basis do not want to necessarily pop out a kid every time they have sex. They may have careers they want to work on, or their husband's jobs cannot support one more child. Or perhaps the last pregnancy went so badly that the doctor said-- "Don't have anymore. If you do, it could kill you." Should that woman give up sex because there is no way to assure she won't get pregnant?

If you don't want to increase the number of abortions, you will help women pay for contraception. Managing fertility is absolutely necessary for the majority of women.

Don't tell me this isn't about equality. And I'm not acting like a victim. I'm educated and raising awareness. You might want to try that sometime... you know, actually knowing what you're talking about?

Anonymous said...

Drugs perscibed to men for birth control (spermicides) are also not covered by most insurance companies. The idea behind this is that you're putting drugs into your body that you could live without.

Your blog is very public, and your argument concerning sexism is being ridiculed by more than just me.

Tyler M Tupa said...

You know, it's easy to post such strong words as "Anonymous". This woman is putting her thoughts out there for all to read. You don't have to like them, you don't have to read them. Posting snide replies as "Anonymous" is just like punching someone in the back of the head.

Sarah said...

Wow. You know Tobes, I don't even know where to start with that argument. Just, wow. I should have been keeping better track of your blog of late, I didn't even notice the 'annonymous' comments until it was too late to make any more useful and realistic argument as to why this person is severely lacking in intelligence.