Last night, I spoke at a rally for women’s rights. It was sponsored by the National Organization for Women, which I re-joined the day of the Hobby Lobby Supreme Court decision. It is time again for feminism.
When I was 18, I got engaged and went to the doctor for a prescription for the pill. He couldn’t give it to me unless it was within two months of my wedding.
It wasn’t his choice. In 1971, doctors in Massachusetts were forbidden by law to prescribe any contraception to unmarried women. It wasn’t against the law for women; it was illegal for doctors, since women weren’t to be trusted making those kinds of decisions about our own bodies.
Young women today don’t remember this and so were pretty much absent from yesterday’s rally.
It’s all done under the guise of protecting innocent babies, but it’s really about pushing women back under the thumbs of men. If we can’t control our own bodies, we can’t control much else about our lives.
Young women today don’t remember that women could be fired just for getting married. They don’t remember young women dying in desperate attempts at abortions after they were denied contraception.
As recently as the 1980s, insurance companies refused to cover contraception for women. I went to pick up an prescription for the Pill for medical purposes and the pharmacist told me I needed a note from my doctor. I waved the prescription and said, “This is a note from my doctor. This is hormone therapy and I expect it to be filled now.”
Well, the insurance company didn’t pay for contraception, so I would need a note from your doctor”
I started waving the prescription again when a man who had been standing nearby stepped up.
“Why is my testosterone replacement therapy not questioned?” he asked. “That’s just wrong. If I can get hormone therapy without question, she should be able to as well.”
He wasn’t an attorney, but his logic seemed frightening enough that the pharmacist called the insurance company and informed them he would fill prescriptions for hormones for everyone with no questions asked, and unless they wanted to fight an expensive lawsuit, they would pay.
Since lawsuits were working their way through the courts already, the insurance company agreed to fill my prescriptions without question.
Now the Hobby Lobby decision makes this same scenario possible. I can’t believe I still have to fight for this.
A young woman recently said to me, “If she opens her legs she should be ready to live with the consequences.”
Why is it acceptable for a young man to “sow his wold oats,” but not a woman? Where the hell is he supposed to sow those oats if women can’t have sex? And why isn’t he forced to suffer the consequences? Why isn’t he shamed?
I did teach my sons that sex was for creating babies and if they weren’t ready to parent, they weren’t ready for sex. I knew, however, that it was highly unlikely they would wait to have sex, so I taught them about contraception. Abstinence is the only foolproof method, and the Pill is a pretty close second. But I stressed again and again that they were as responsible for any consequences as their partners.
Secondly, when I was a young woman, it was legal for a man to forcibly rape his wife. If she wound up pregnant, that was supposed to be a blessing from God.
A woman could be forced to bring a new life into a violent home where its life would be endangered by an abusive father. A son would be likely to follow in his father’s footsteps and become abusive; a daughter would be likely to marry an abusive man.
But that didn’t matter to the white men in power; it still doesn’t.
I don’t remember the struggle for the right to vote; my grandmother’s generation fought that battle. But I remember enough about women’s struggle for equality to know we’re losing our precious rights, and I can’t sit still for that.
I thought we won these battles back in the 1960s and 70s, but our right to control our bodies is slipping away from us and we have to stand up and fight again.
We need young women in the fight, though. They take it for granted that they can get contraception, that they can go to a woman’s clinic for checkups and prescriptions. Women’s clinics are closing across the country as powerful old men claim they’re nothing more than abortion factories.
In truth, these clinics provide affordable care for millions of women. Until every state in the nation has expanded Medicaid, these clinics are the only access to care that low-income women have.
More than 85 percent of he services provided by women’s clinics have nothing to do with abortion, but women going in for checkups, contraception and cancer screenings are subjected to verbal, emotional and physical abuse. Even women seeking abortions deserve the respect of making this horrible decision without being screamed at, spit upon and hit.
If this abuse really was about the babies, there would be more help for women and children.
If you only support the fetus, you are not pro-life. You are anti-woman, and that is not acceptable.
We women are onto the effort to subjugate us again, and we’re not going. We will fight, and we will win.