Are You With Us? We Can’t Hear You

Are You With Us? We Can’t Hear You

In the year 2000 the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission declared that employer-provided health insurance must cover contraception. It was clearly discriminatory to deny women coverage for a safe, widely used, highly effective preventive medication. This was a solid decade before the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) went into effect, eight years before Obama was elected. But this week, Trump announced he would roll back the ACA mandate that insures contraceptive coverage as part of the preventive healthcare provisions. Trump and the men behind this action claim it allows religious organizations and those with moral objections to opt out of providing birth control coverage for employees, but that’s a lie. That provision already exists. This just makes it easier for employers to discriminate against women, which seems to be the point.

The hypocrisy in this case is particularly galling. Thanks to the EEOC decision, nearly all of the religious organizations that complained about offering contraceptive coverage in the Obama era were already offering that coverage during the Bush era. To do otherwise left them open to discrimination lawsuits. This, my friends, is a manufactured morality crisis.

The truth is, if you have health insurance though your employer or through the open market, you are subsidizing all sorts of things you might never use or need. Maybe you are subsidizing treatments you find objectionable. You don’t get to opt out of subsidizing those treatments. This is how insurance works. The only thing that sets contraception apart from those other treatments, is that it is solely prescribed to women. Male contraception can be picked up at any drugstore. It’s just one more thing that is easier for men than for women. Yet men benefit from contraceptive coverage just as much as women do. Why aren’t they outraged by this latest act? Is it because they know that when a woman controls her body, she controls her life? Do they not want us to have that control?

If you are a man who believes women deserve the same level of health care as you do, then stand up and say something. The men who are against us are making plenty of noise. Every woman I know is shouting, but the men who ought to be on our side are only nodding. It’s not enough. Speak up and take action. This should matter to you as much as it matters to us. You should be screaming bloody murder at the idea that birth control pills and IUDs and contraceptive implants will be harder to obtain.

If you’ve ever engaged in sex with a woman for any reason other than procreation, you need to stand up and fight for contraceptive coverage. If you managed to make it to age 30 without accidentally getting someone pregnant, you ought to be carrying a flag for contraception. Because I’m here to tell you that all those times you couldn’t be bothered to wear a condom, or the condom broke, or you ditched the condom; you weren’t lucky. You were probably saved by a woman’s backup contraception.

You’re welcome.

So stop pretending this issue doesn’t concern you. It concerns you and it concerns your sons and it concerns your daughters and it concerns us all. We cannot let women’s rights be rolled back in the name of religion or morality or misogyny or apathy. You are either with us or against us. Let us know where you stand. We can’t read your minds.

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Tiffany Quay Tyson

THE PAST IS NEVER, a southern gothic novel steeped in local lore, is available now. The Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance deemed it an Okra Pick. Tyson's debut novel THREE RIVERS was a finalist for both the Colorado Book Award for Literary Fiction and the Mississippi Institute of Arts and Letters Award for Fiction. She was born and raised in Jackson, Mississippi and now lives, writes, and teaches in Denver, Colorado.
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