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Pardon my ovaries for causing the shutdown

by Julie Bien

October 2, 2013 | 3:28 pm

I am having a hard time keeping my jaw from hitting the ground—or my head from banging onto my desk, for that matter. Our government just came to a grinding halt over whether or not I have the right to the affordable care-and-keeping of my reproductive organs.

Let me rephrase: The Republican party is so hell-bent on limiting my right to have affordable access to 100% legal medicine that they are willing to shut down the government—close the national parks, close the National Institute of Health, and prevent economically disadvantaged mothers from feeding their children with the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children.

An ideological battle is being waged on my body and the American people. Apparently, it is of little interest to the powers that be that affordable access to hormonal birth control not only costs the country less (fewer unplanned pregnancies) but also boosts the overall health of many women who take it.

Women who take the pill reduce their chances of developing uterine or ovarian cancer. For those who suffer from endometriosis or polycystic ovarian syndrome, hormonal birth control is one of the only medications that brings relief from the symptoms.  The list goes on.

Why isn’t their more outrage among the moderate Republicans? Don’t they realize that their party is being hijacked by the religious-right with many children bearing the brunt of their bullheaded idiocy? Do they think that nothing will win the hearts and minds of the public like children going hungry, or preventing scientists from doing their jobs (which help protect Democrats and Republicans alike from health emergencies?)

I am ashamed of my government. I am livid. I cannot think of a big enough F-You to shout at the petty, hollowed-out shells of human beings that have allowed this to happen.

I, a woman—owner of ovaries, fallopian tubes, and a uterus, demand that I am granted equal access to medical care. If I can’t have affordable access to birth control, then you, owners of XY chromosomes, cannot have access to Viagra. Or testosterone supplements. Or beta-blockers. Does that seem unfair? (The answer is ‘yes’—feel free to take that nugget of information and follow it to its logical conclusion.)

One of the main tenets of Judaism is Tikkun Olam, which literally means “repair the world.” How about we start with advocating for a society that does just that? We can begin by making sure everyone has affordable access to any medical care they need. And let’s shout as loud as we can when anyone gets in the way of that fundamental right.

Maimonides, the highly revered Jewish physician and scholar, listed health care first on his list of the 10 most important communal services that a city should offer its residents (Mishneh Torah, Hilchot De’ot IV: 23). 

Instead of doing just that, we have let it become an issue that is debatable. Let me clarify this for you: It is not debatable. It is our duty to provide healthcare. It is our fundamental human right to receive it.

If you truly believe that offering birth control coverage to your employees goes against your deepest beliefs, fine—you’re free to believe that! Don’t use it. No one will force you!

Here in America, we have freedom of religion. But you also need to accept that we have freedom from religion—and that means religious doctrine has no place in any national healthcare debate.

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