In a move that surprised almost no one, the Supreme Court decided today that Hobby Lobby, a corporate entity, can somehow claim that paying for contraception for its employees violates its (the corporation’s) religious sensibilities. This comes on top of last week’s Supreme Court decision to strike down the Massachusetts law that kept abortion protesters a decent distance from patients entering and leaving abortion clinics.
People who value reproductive rights which should include every woman who has thought two seconds about if and when she wants to have a baby and all the partners of said women need to stop gaping with their mouths hanging open at every new headline. “Golly, did that just happen? Can Hobby Lobby really exclude birth control from its benefits?” “Wow, you mean that protesters can get right up in someone’s face and scream at them when they’re trying to get from their car to the abortion clinic’s front door?”
Yes, it’s astonishing. It makes you blink twice. Did I really see that naked man running across the baseball field? Well, yes, I did. And I shouldn’t be surprised because he’s been standing without a shirt and waving his arms in the front row for the past hour. It wasn’t enough for him. He needed to go further. He needed to take off his damn pants and run, swinging, across the outfield.
Here’s the headache, friends and neighbors. They are just getting started. What happened today and last week isn’t the end of the story, the culmination of years of erosion of women’s reproductive freedom. It’s the beginning.
What else can happen? Plenty. There are a lot more items on the right to lifers checklist. When they’re done, we’ll be rolling our own condoms out of goat intestines. You wait.
It’s time to go underground. It’s time to create a whole new subterranean infrastructure of women’s reproductive health care that would include the provision of free birth control and abortion services. Stop asking institutions which are increasingly cracked at the seams and driven by maniacal corporate hard-ons to do what’s right and just do it ourselves.
Oh wait! This has been done.
Anyone possibly remember Our Bodies Ourselves? The Boston Women’s Health Book Collective? The subversive 1970’s group that told women how to do their own gynecological exams or how to have parties and do each other’s; the same one that walked a newly pregnant reader step by step through pregnancy and delivery; the book that told pregnant women that, no, they didn’t have to go into a hospital, lay on their backs with the feet in stirrups to have their babies delivered by forceps because their doctor (male) couldn’t be bothered to wait for the natural course of things? Yeah, them.
Employers and insurers and corporations aren’t going to save us; the less they can pay for, the happier they are. Politicians aren’t going to save us because they can’t stay focused on one issue long enough to get any traction. Today, while the Supreme Court’s decision was being announced, President Obama was talking about immigration. I get it. Our immigration policy is a nightmare and it needs to change. But could we just get one type of human right in the bag before flitting off to another one?
The message today, in my mind, was this. Women can’t rely on anyone but ourselves (and our allies, I guess). If we want dependable access to birth control and safe abortion, we have to create it. We have to remember and rejuvenate words like collective and cooperative. We just cannot tolerate another instance of being told what we can and can’t do as if we are babies not ready to chew real food.
Someone asked me today, what’s the next step? Of course, it’s working to elect smarter people with a sense of core human rights. But it’s also cultivating and stoking the deep, deep sense of resentment every woman in this country should have right now for the insult leveled at her and every woman. You’ve been waiting for the real deal to get mad? It’s the real deal.
24/100: 24th in a series of 100 essays in 100 days.