To the Editor:

In last week’s issue of The Equinox, an article caught the eye of the Feminist Collective.

Allie Bedell’s opinion’s piece regarding the controversy surrounding the current debate over whether religious institutions should be required to provide access to free contraceptive care.

Bedell argues that in requiring religious institutions to do this, the federal government is infringing on the First Amendment.

However, her argument fails to take into account the fact that federal and state governments often create laws that impede on individual and collective rights stated in the Bill of Rights.

According to Bedell, “The absence of an exemption would not just result in the requirement that Catholics provide contraception to employees, but would create a precedent in which in certain cases, the federal government can disregard the First Amendment in order to implement its policies.”

The federal government and the Supreme Court have already set a precedent whereby state and federal legislation can intrude on “our inalienable rights” in the case Schenck v. United States.

There, individuals’ right to free speech was significantly restricted.

The federal and state governments are designed to help facilitate a community where individual and collective rights are balanced against–what becomes–a very murky area of constitutionally protected “rights.”

As Bedell’s piece continues, she equivalates women’s health and contraceptive to “a tube of Chapstick or a bottle of hand lotion.”

Not only is this analogy completely offensive to the women who take birth control as a necessary measure to balance hormones, facilitate a healthy menstrual cycle, or decrease chances of infertility, her use of over-the-top comparisons is quite unnecessary and acts merely as a rhetorical device which serves no purpose except to elicit a knee-jerk reaction from the audience. (A Fox News ploy, perhaps?)

Bedell also states, “Contraception…is not a matter of life or death.

It is not treatment for a terminal illness, nor will it improve the health of those who use it.  It merely relieves the concern of becoming pregnant.”

On the contrary, birth control can be used to reduce symptoms of polycystic ovary syndrome–a disease that affects menstrual cycles and hormonal levels–and to control the agonizing pain associated with premenstrual dysphoric disorder–a disorder where symptoms of PMS are significantly worse.

These two diseases are challenging disorders that can affect a woman’s entire well being. Contraceptive use does not automatically equate to sexual activity or the need to prevent pregnancy.

Although Bedell raises a legitimate concern regarding the power of the federal government, it must be asked why, since the founding of our country, have the rights of male-dominated religious and political institutions been afforded more protection and sympathy than the rights of our mothers, daughters, wives, and sisters?

The contraceptive debate is larger than the First Amendment; it is a fundamental human rights issue.

When someone is denied access to comprehensive health care, that person becomes a little less of a fully autonomous citizen.

When half of a citizenry are not quite citizens then true “equality” and “justice”–ideals to which our government allegedly prescribes–can never be achieved.


The KSC Feminist Collective


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