I've decided to participate in the Blog Against Theocracy blogswarm this weekend, March 21-23, 2008. I'm sure it's only a coincidence that it falls over the Easter holiday...
Bloggers all across the country will be posting articles or thoughts about one of our most fundamental freedoms: the separation of Church and State. While I have some rudimentary background in political science, I have no desire to hold forth on the fundamental Constitutional guarantees which are currently being compromised by the irrational, morally bankrupt religious extremist who claims to be our Commander-In-Chief...
Okay, maybe I do, but instead I wanted to address a particular issue which is directly relevant to my daily life: reproductive rights. And I'm not talking about abortion, although I could... No, no, I'm going to stay on point.
When I was 16, my mom took me to see our family doctor to discuss the increasing symptoms I was having - which, back then, were still only referred to as "female troubles". To be more accurate, I had cramps. REALLY BAD cramps. Horrifically painful, debilitating, "waking up with slivers of wood under my nails from gripping the bedpost in agony" kind of cramps.
After an exam, my doctor explained that the best way to combat my symptoms would be to prescribe a regimen of birth control pills. Being Catholic, I was unsure how my mom would react to this news, but she was cool with it. After watching me suffer for years, I think she would have agreed to anything, but she also explained that this would actually be allowed under current Church teaching anyway, since there was a valid medical purpose.
Unlike some of my friends (you know who you are!), I was not sexually active at this young age, so my use of the drug I was taking - and have taken ever since, in some form - was purely medical in nature. Within a few months, my symptoms subsided to a somewhat more tolerable state, and everyone was happy - no harm, no foul.
Then I went to college. (Well, for awhile, anyway. But back to the point...) In this one instance, my complete and total dependence on my parents worked to my advantage. Since I still came home every few weeks, I continued to have my prescriptions filled at my home pharmacy.
Some of my new college friends, however, were not so fortunate - they were stunned to find that many local pharmacists refused to fill birth control prescriptions. This was particularly hard for freshman girls, who were required to live in the dorms and were not allowed to park cars on campus. The local girls just went home for their meds, like I did. But for a few, the only option was to take a bus to Planned Parenthood, where they could usually get their medications, although most found that their HMO or PPO insurance coverage would not apply for these out of network drugs.
I was baffled - and frightened. What would have happened if I had chosen to attend one of the out of state schools to which I had been accepted, and therefore couldn't get my prescriptions filled at home every month? Memories of the excruciating pain I had experienced years before flooded back... Plus, I had always heard that college towns were usually more liberal than their surrounding areas. How pervasive was this problem, if it was this bad at a state university?
The whole situation was so infuriating and downright ridiculous. The idea that some random redneck could make arbitrary decisions about my body and my right to treat my life-changing medical condition filled me with rage and disgust - it still does.
Looking back, I feel so naive - things have gotten much worse in this regard since my college days in the early 90's. And that's one of the many reasons why defending the separation of Church and State is so important. Just as all Americans have the right to worship how (and if) we choose, we also all have the right to do our jobs, raise our children, treat our bodies and live our lives free of interference from anyone else's religious beliefs.
Or, at least we should.
(If you think so, too, check out the First Freedom First website for details on their nationwide live simulcast event next Wednesday, March 26th. It's a free broadcast hosted at many theaters across the country - you can find one near you here.)
Now playing: The Cranberries - Salvation