When I was a teenager, I would meet up with my girlfriends early on Sunday mornings for church. Which is to say we stopped our car down the block from St. Mary’s or St. Vincent’s while one of us ran in, snuck a program, and peeked in to see which priest was saying Mass. Then we drove to McDonald’s for breakfast.
As irony would have it, this morning I had to call Walgreens to refill my birth control prescription. The Surpreme Court announced it’s ruling. “The court held on a 5-4 vote on ideological lines that such companies can seek an exemption from the so-called birth control mandate of the healthcare law. The decision means employees of those companies will have to obtain certain forms of birth control from other sources.”
Another irony. I had a mother who’d already talked to me about sex (because, hello, I had a steady boyfriend and she wasn’t stupid) and offered to take me to get birth control the minute I needed it. But even with her saying that, even with that kind of outspoken support, I lied. I pretended I wasn’t having sex. And I continued on with my iffy birth control methods until I could finally get up the nerve to say, “Okay, mom…” She took me to her doctor. My appointment was covered by her insurance. My birth control pills were paid for.
When I heard this morning’s ruling, the first thing I thought of was that first scene above, me and my girlfriends sneaking around on a Sunday morning, pretending. The next thing I though of was the first time I had sex. Eight days after my 15th birthday. Pretending I wasn’t having sex. Me with my iffy birth control.
Now, inevitably, somebody’s going to say that maybe my mother should have been teaching me abstinence, or doing more parenting, or that there was another way. To which I would say, that’s a nice thought, but it’s a fantasy. I was already having sex. Horse out of the barn, and all that… Thank goodness for my astute mother, her doctor, and birth control pills.
Now I’m 48 years old. My husband has a vasectomy, I’ve already been through menopause, so there are no babies in my future, and yet … I TAKE BIRTH CONTROL. I take it because, with so much cancer in my family, it’s the lowest dose of hormones that suits my body and my doctor — because of the cancer risk — doesn’t want to give me anything stronger.
It’s a medical decision. It’s about health, women’s personal and private health. The further irony being that many if not most of the Catholic women I know take birth control.
Without insurance, my birth control pills would cost $120 a month.
And of course we all know that if men took birth control pills because it would help them have better/stronger/longer erections, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation.
The fight continues.