Let’s Talk About My Uterus

The Wonder Years

I mean, everyone else is talking about my uterus.  Well, not mine specifically.  But what happens inside, outside, and around the uteruses of our nation’s women is deemed so important that they get their own special laws and Supreme Court rulings!  Hooray!  Don’t you just feel like there are so many legislators and jurists out there who are super concerned for women’s health and just want to protect us from ourselves?  I sure do!

For years, Republican state governments have been trying to weasel their way around Roe v. Wade, passing laws which make it increasingly difficult for women to have access to good healthcare and safe abortions.  The vitriolic pushback that met President Obama’s Obamacare rule for birth control coverage in insurance policies was astounding.  I wasn’t aware that we had time traveled back to the 60s and 70s, when only married women with permission from their husbands could gain access to birth control.  Eventually, after hard fought legal battles, the birth control provision went into effect, (with a few notable exceptions, (I’m looking at you, religious zealots!)  Now that President-elect Trump has a Republican House and Senate, who knows what sort of laws will be passed which strip women of their autonomy? And with Trump’s potential to fill more than one vacancy in the Supreme Court, will Roe v. Wade be relegated, a Vice President-elect Mike Pence said, “…to the ash heap of history.”

I used to believe that birth control was the gateway to parenthood.  What do you call people who use birth control?  Parents!  I used to believe that abortion was the easy way out and you were being selfish after being a slutty slut.  I even had a t-shirt from the Christian bookstore that said “Endangered Species” at the top and the Earth surrounded by animals, including elephants and panda bears.  But smack dab in the middle, with the Earth as its amniotic sac, was a white fetus.  Yeah.  I was that asshole.  I calmed down significantly during college, (you know, because those ungodly liberals exposed me to dangerous things like “ideas” and “critical thinking” and “other points of view”) but I remember when I had my lightbulb moment on abortion.  It was after my rape-adjacent experience.  In the morning light, he noticed that the condom had broken.  Shit!  So not only did I get to feel gross and guilty and ashamed of allowing someone to have sex with me, even though I didn’t want it, because it didn’t seem like my consent really mattered to him anyway, but I had to worry about whether or not I’d be knocked up with this shit-for-brains’ kid.  I don’t remember why I didn’t just go get Plan B* at the Health Center.  I remember thinking, There is no way I’m going to have the rest of my life ruined because of this.  If I end up pregnant, I’ll need an abortion.  

Oh.  It hit me.  What was apparent to plenty of other people had finally broken through the life-long pro-life programming- This was my body and my decision.  Whatever I thought was best for myself and my life wasn’t anyone else’s business.  And if something like this was happening in my life and I wanted this access to abortion and proper healthcare, without interference from outside forces who know nothing about me nor my body, then who the hell was I to limit other women in their choices?  I sure as hell wasn’t going to be one of those hypocritical people who justified their own abortion, but denied that choice for someone else.

Fortunately, I did not get pregnant.  Thanks to access to good healthcare, education, and a dose of good luck, I’ve only ever been pregnant on purpose.  (Tell a non-OB doctor some time that you might be pregnant because you’re trying to get pregnant.  It will confuse the hell out of them!)  I’ve been fortunate enough to not have to make that choice.  But I’ve thought about what Mike and I would do if I were to accidentally get pregnant now.  He and I have talked about it, and the reality for us right now is that another pregnancy and baby would be a catastrophe.  Both of my pregnancies with the girls were miserable; Rachael had me barfing until I delivered her and Zoë caused me to have a horrible case of PUPPPS for 20 weeks.  After experiencing pregnancy, I don’t think anyone should be forced to go through it, especially if the pregnancy is the result of sexual violence. Add that to fibromyalgia, which includes chronic fatigue as a symptom.  Now add one child with ADD and an executive functioning disorder and another with ADHD and Oppsitional Defiant Disorder.  Yeah, no.  We’re barely coping now.  So we take precautions.  I have a hormonal IUD which, not only prevents pregnancy, but also regulates a very painful uterine condition called adenomyosis.  Of course, now that I think about it, there are scientists people who feel the IUD is an abortifacient.  It’s not true, but that’s how they feel, so laws and mandates need to be changed so women don’t have access to not just medical and surgical abortions, but different forms of birth control.  But let’s not pay attention to the nitty gritty details of women’s healthcare.  That ruins all the fun, fun, fun!

Last night, I watched the most recent episode of Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.  Spoilers ahead if you’re not caught up.  

Main character, Rebecca’s, paralegal and best friend, Paula, has been accepted into law school.  At the same time, she discovers that the rekindling the passion in her marriage has led to her accidental pregnancy.  Paula has a full-time career, two children who are the worst, and a husband who, (bless his heart) is trying to pick up the slack at home so she can have the baby and go to law school.  But their family just isn’t in the right place to add another child, even without law school.  So, after agonizing over the decision, Paula makes a choice.  She chooses to have an abortion, not because she’s selfish or a bad person, but because it’s the best choice for her, her family, and their future.  Given the taboo nature of the subject, I was heartened to see it talked about in this context.  

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend

We see her, after having been to the doctor, lying in bed.  She’s not a devastated mess, but you can see the sadness in her eyes.  It wasn’t a decision she wanted to make, but she made that decision with her husband and her doctor.  Thank goodness no one was standing in her way, presuming to know what was best for her.

*I did end up using Plan B twice during college.  Again, thank goodness for access to healthcare.  And, no, those don’t cause abortions either, because science. 

It’s not business. It’s personal.

Women, unable to travel hundreds of miles for access to family planning healthcare and access to abortion. Women, using Cytotec to induce abortions because their legal access is severely restricted. States, enacting laws that require a waiting period before abortions. States, requiring a woman to undergo an invasive, medically unnecessary ultrasound before allowing a woman to obtain an abortion. The Supreme Court, ruling that a buffer zone around abortion clinics, which allow for the safety of the women and employees entering the clinic, is unconstitutional because it infringes upon the First Amendment rights of protestors to initiate, “personal, caring, consensual conversations.” Employers, refusing to pay for contraception coverage because they erroneously believe certain types of contraception to be abortifacients. The Supreme Court, siding with the employers.

Yesterday I spent the day reeling and blowing up friend’s Facebook feeds with stories about the SCOTUS Hobby Lobby decision, which allow closely-held companies, (Chick Fil A is an example of a closely-held company. It’s not just small companies,) to deny women access to contraception via insurance coverage if they have a sincerely-held religious objection to the contraception. The ruling was narrow, so as to make sure that only contraception, (for now) is affected by the ruling. Things like vaccinations, blood transfusions, and anti-depressants are not included as things that can be denied because of a sincerely-held religious belief. Why? Because it is clear that the majority on the ruling, all five of them Catholic, are logic contortionists who wanted this to just affect contraception. It is also of note that Chief Justice Roberts stated that it does not matter if the sincerely-held belief is factually incorrect, so long as it is sincerely held.
At the end of the day I told Mike that I feel like we were moving backward for women. That is my sincerely-held belief. Still, in 2014, healthcare decisions are not solely between a woman and her doctor; five men have the power to deny access to contraception to women in the United States.

After that, I envisioned the five justices dancing a kick line to “Every Sperm is Sacred”.

It’s not academic
Many people are having debates about this ruling online. For some, it’s purely academic. For one, they are not women, and so would never have any personal use or need for contraception. Some of them just want to debate the minutiae of law and logic. I saw one woman suggest that it was a political issue. I suppose that’s true for some people. Conservatives have generally sided with Hobby Lobby because they are either against the use of contraception, they believe IUDs and the morning after pill to be abortifacients, (they aren’t) they believe a company should be allowed to pick and choose what benefits they pay for, even if it leads to discrimination, (and it does. For instance, vasectomies are covered with Hobby Lobby,) or all three. Liberals tend to side with women and their right to treat their body as theirs, along with the medical decisions made for it.

But for millions of American women, it’s not just something to argue about. Their lives, and the quality of their lives, are at stake. In one fell swoop, five Supreme Court justices placed in jeopardy reasonable, affordable access to contraception. I don’t know how that doesn’t make all women angry. It’s like going back to the days when contraception was first available; only married women could have it, and they had to have permission from their husband first. Ladies, this is a manifestation of patriarchy, pure and simple. This is not, at the end of the day, about religious conscience. This is about having the ability to exercise control over what women do and do not have access to.

Those who would argue, (Matt Walsh) that it doesn’t prevent women from getting the contraception, they just have to pay for it themselves, are clearly living in La La Land. If you’ve ever worked an hourly retail job, you know that coming up with over $3000 to pay for an IUD just isn’t going to happen.
Some offer a solution of simply finding another job. This thinking is La La Land adjacent. I sincerely doubt that a majority of the women working there turned down a plethora of employment opportunities because, ever since they were little girls, they dreamed of working at Hobby Lobby.
There are those who wonder: Why is contraception so fundamentally important? Why is this worth fighting over? There are a few reasons. It lowers health care costs. Think about it. A five minute office visit to insert my IUD costs significantly less than the alternative: invasive surgery to ablate my uterine wall, which may or may not work, so I’d still need to use birth control because pregnancy would be dangerous. And if that didn’t work, I’d need a hysterectomy and medical care to help me undergo early menopause. When used as birth control, contraception helps to avoid unplanned pregnancies, which avoids costs related to hospital births. If that child were to have any mental or physical health issues, insurance would then need to pay out for any medical care that unplanned child needed.

Another reason is that is helps to improve the quality of life for women. Plenty of uterine, ovarian, and hormonal issues are solved with the use of contraception, such as: Polycystic Ovary Syndrome; adenomyosis; fibroid tumors; endometriosis; ovarian cysts; amenorrhea; prevention of endometrial and ovarian cancer; alleviation of PMS, heavy periods, and acne. For instance, my hormonal IUD treats my adenomyosis. Without the IUD, I would continue to double over in pain, both during and in between my periods and bleed in between my periods. When I would have my actual period, my flow would be so heavy that it would cause me to become weak and nearly pass out. This is because it liked to gush out all at once at times like first thing in the morning. Cleaning myself after using the toilet would look like I had just committed murder because my hand would be so covered in blood.

Okay, but there are still women using contraception solely as birth control. Those slutty sluts should just abstain from sex.
Okay. You win. You’re absolutely right. Abstinence is the only way to prevent pregnancy. We should totally force only women to abstain by taking away their decision to use birth control, even if it would hurt women because of course they’re not going to stop having sex just because they don’t have birth control. (Mass graves for children of unwed mothers in Ireland support that.) And if only women are forced to abstain, that will totally prevent unwanted pregnancies from rape and incest. Also, all the married women for whom pregnancy would cause serious health issues, up to and including death, could you go ahead and just stop having sex with your husbands? Thaaa-aaaaanks!

So you see, for me, this Supreme Court decision isn’t academic or political. It’s personal. It’s personal for me as a woman, as a user of contraception for medical and birth control reasons, and as an American citizen. It’s personal because now I have to worry about whether or not it will ever affect me and my insurance coverage. It’s personal because this Supreme Court decision essentially affirms that women are second class citizens. We are second class citizens whose healthcare decisions may be decided by someone else, whose only vested interested is to have control. It also affirms that pointed and blatant discrimination of us second class citizens is A-okay.

Image source