Religious Freedom For Thee, But Not For Me

Religious Freedom For Thee, But Not For Me

Ed. Note: My thoughts are still jumbled on this. It’s really hard to get past incoherent rage. So, I apologize that this is going to be disjointed. It’s the best I could do. 

My reaction in reading the Hobby Lobby decision on Monday: FUCK YOU, SCOTUS, AND THE HOBBY LOBBY HORSE YOU RODE IN ON.* I was pissed off, disgusted, seething, and a whole plethora of other emotions, and I still am. But what I am the most is tired.

I’m tired of being considered a second-class citizen in this country because of my gender. Yes, I can get pregnant and give life, but that doesn’t mean that I should be forced to do so. “The fetus is a person.” Well, no. It’s potential person at best, and given that 10 – 20% of pregnancies end up in miscarriages, it’s easy to refute that truism, even if you can’t convince the person saying it. If it were true that every pregnancy should be brought to term, there would be no miscarriages. There are valid reasons for terminating a pregnancy, even if it’s not because the fetus has a genetic defect. Now, I’m going to say something heretical. Even if I were to concede that a fetus is a life (which, again, I don’t), my rejoinder would be that I am, too. I’m a living, breathing person, and I fucking matter. I matter as much as those cells hypothetically swimming around inside my body; no, I matter MORE. I wrote about this realization after Dr. Tiller’s murder. You can read my thoughts about why I matter here. And, to get even more meta about it, why it matters that I realize I matter.

Going down that road, that’s another thing that makes me tired. These religious extremists are telling me that I don’t matter as much as this potential person does. My hopes, dreams, fears, ambitions, etc., are meaningless to these assholes once I become pregnant. Then, I am nothing more than a vessel for the potential life inside of me. They are saying that anything I want for my life is moot once a sperm happens to hook up with one of my eggs, and I am having none of it. What’s ironic is that they don’t give a shit once the baby is actually born, but another post for another day.

I am tired of the anti-choice successfully dominating the narrative so that pro-choice activists have to apologize for abortion or qualify it. Yes, it’s a terrible horrible awful thing and yes the goal is zero abortions and, and, and….We’ve allowed them to define ‘good’ abortions (or rather, acceptable abortions, i.e., in the case of rape, incest, and to save the life of the mother) versus ‘bad’ abortion (unacceptable abortions, every other abortion). It’s because of this that anti-choicers can argue about the evil Slutty McSluts who are having sex all over the place and then going through the drive-thru of McDonald’s to order up their abortions for the day.

Do we really want to go back to this?
Do we really want to go back to this?

Follow me down another side road. The fact that most anti-choicers will allow for exceptions in the cases of rape, incest, and the mother’s life gives lie to the fact that their objection is that every sperm is sacred, as it were. If that were true, they would be against abortion in every case. There are anti-choicers who hold this view and while I vehemently disagree with them, I at least respect their consistency. It’s the ones who allow for the exceptions and who talk about women ‘facing the consequences of their decisions’ (I heard this from a anti-choice liberal guy on a blog once. Believe you me, I kicked his ass over this.) at whom I look sideways. To me, that sounds a lot less like ‘we need to value every life’ and more like, ‘fucking whores can’t keep their legs shut and should be punished for it.’ By the way, is it appalling to anyone else that these assholes think of children as a consequence/punishment? Why the hell would you want someone who’s doesn’t want to be a parent to spawn? To me, this attitude is more about shaming a woman** for having sex than about being ‘pro-life’.***

And don’t tell me, “Well, there’s always adoption!” as if that were a panacea. Adoption has a plethora of issues on its own, and it’s still saying a woman has to carry the damn fetus for nine months before giving it up. Then, it’s assuming that there will be someone who wants to adopt every baby, which is an iffy proposition at best. A healthy white baby is the most coveted, which is why a white baby cost ten times the amount of a black baby to adopt. In addition, about 135,000 kids are adopted every year. In the year 2010, there were over three-quarters of a million abortions. Do the math and tell me how adoption is the answer to the ‘problem’ of abortion. I’m not saying adoption can’t be a viable option, but it’s no the be-all, end-all no matter how much anti-choicers wish it to be.

Which reminds me. I’m tired of the anti-choicers living in a fantasy world where every child is wanted and will be loved and supported once it’s born. Oh, wait. They don’t give a shit about the actual, breathing, living children, otherwise they’d be for living wages, Head Start, welfare, and other programs that promote better living for people on the margins. My bad! Never mind. Seriously, though, they talk about how women who have abortions regret them, but so do women who have children. So do women who give up their children for adoption. Focusing on only the regret of women who have abortions is disingenuous and misleading.

I’m tired of seeing the religious extremists chip away at my rights, little by little. The Hobby Lobby ruling just opened the door for some wide-reaching consequences. Justice Ginsburg said it best:

Approving some religious claims while deeming others unworthy of accommodation could be ‘perceived as favoring one religion over another,’ the very ‘risk the [Constitution’s] Establishment Clause was designed to preclude.

This court, I fear, has ventured into a minefield.

She was right on both accounts. Today, three days after the Hobby Lobby ruling, her conservative brethren allowed Wheaton college to not even have to fill in a form announcing their objection the Obamacare mandate. They simply had to say, hey, you no what? I’m not doing this, and it’s fine, according to Alito and his boys.**** I have no idea why filling out a form is objectionable, and I’m too pissed to think about it too hard, so if there’s a lawyer out there, please explain it to me. Anyway, Justice Sotomayor was scathing in her dissent. From the above link:

Those who are bound by our decisions usually believe they can take us at our word, [Justice Sotomayor wrote.] Not so today.

Let me be absolutely clear, [she wrote.] I do not doubt that Wheaton genuinely believes that signing the self-certification form is contrary to its religious beliefs. But thinking one’s religious beliefs are substantially burdened — no matter how sincere or genuine that belief may be — does not make it so.

So fucking tired.
So fucking tired.

The latter is similar to my mantra lately. Just because you truly, deeply, and sincerely believe something to be true, it doesn’t make it true. I can truly, sincerely, and deeply believe that Alan Rickman should be in my bed right now, but that doesn’t make it true! Say it with me, the IUD and the morning-after pills are NOT abortifacients, and simply repeating it over and over again doesn’t make it true. I’m so fucking tired of this lie being repeated without any pushback. But, now the conservative members of the SCOTUS have swallowed this belief without even questioning it closely because who the fuck needs science?, and the lie is now encoded into law.

While we’re talking about religion, and, yes, we were, I’m tired of the ‘religious’ freedom of certain assholes to trump my freedom from their fucking religion. Look, I was raised fundie, so I know religion pretty well. When I left Christianity, I raged against it for several years. Now, I’ve made my peace with it, and I don’t care what someone believes until that belief is the basis for laws which affect my life. Then, I have a massive problem with it, especially when, as I noted above, the law is based on a fucking lie. A little history: It’s a myth that the Pilgrims came here for religious freedom. They came here so they could practice their own brand of religion, so extreme, it made them enemies throughout Britain. They weren’t about freedom of religion for everyone, and it seems that the anti-choicers of today are following in their ancestors’ puritanical footsteps. Listen. I know that most Christians are appalled by what these extremists are doing in their name and that a majority of them disagree with the premise for the Hobby Lobby ruling, so if that’s you, you need to fucking speak up about it. Don’t tell me, “Oh, they’re not really Christians” or, “They didn’t do this for religious reasons, not really,” because the end result is that my fucking rights are being encroached upon in the name of all that is holy and sacred. There are some Christians who’ve had enough and are speaking out in creative ways (handing out condoms in front of a Hobby Lobby, for example), and there needs to be more of this.

What the fuckwads don’t understand or don’t care about is that freedom of religion also means freedom from religion. Why the fuck should I have to follow their laws if I don’t believe what they do? How the hell would they like it if they had to keep kosher? I have a hunch that these assholes would be bleating with righteous indignation if, say, a  for-profit company owned by a Muslim forbade its employees from eating anything that wasn’t halal. Or, what if a pagan refused to allow her employees time off for Christmas because it was her deeply, sincerely-held religious belief that Christianity is a made-up religion grafted onto the existent pagan rituals of whatever country in order to make the natives more amenable to Christian beliefs,***** and she only allowed her employees to celebrate the winter solstice? You can fucking bet these same assholes would be decrying this practice as quickly as they heard about it from FOX. I mean, look how outraged they get every year about the mythical War on Christmas! And yet, they cannot comprehend that what they are doing is in a similar vein because, well, BABY JESUS SAVES.

Somehow, in the last twenty years or so, freedom of religion has come to mean freedom for certain entities to shove their religious beliefs down everyone else’s throat. These assholes don’t want their tax monies going to abortion (a legal medical procedure, let me remind you), but they sure as hell don’t mind all the money they receive from the government. You know what? It’s against my religion to give money to these assholes who are denying me my rights. In fact, it feels downright repugnant subsiding them. So, no more tax monies for you, Catholic Charities! What? I can’t do that? Well, why the hell not? I thought that was how it worked these days. I say I have a deeply and sincerely-held religious belief, and then I’m allowed to do whatever the fuck I want. Oh, right. I’m not a corporation, so therefore, I’m not a person. Gotcha. By the way, if religious entities want to be in the business of making laws, they need to give up their tax-exempt status. I’m fucking sick and tired of them having it both ways. If they don’t believe in the separation of church and state and in giving Caesar his due, then they need to be taxed like any other business.

Fuck. You. Assholes.
Fuck. You. Assholes.

I used to write about repro rights all the damn time when I was blogging on the regular. In rereading some of my old posts, I realized that I stopped writing about it well before I stopped blogging completely. It wasn’t a conscious decision, but I just couldn’t take it any longer. I couldn’t take the daily outrage, the fury that used to consume me as I read about this anti-abortion law being passed or that one, and I wasn’t even on the front lines of the fight. This is one of the last posts I wrote on repro rights and the miserable excuse for a human being named Todd Akin — he of the ‘legitimate rape’ comment — and it contains links to several others. I felt as if I was just spitting in the wind and for my sanity, I stepped back. I also started writing short stories based in a dystopian world in which abortion was banned because it felt like a better way to deal with the issues than to just blog about the horrors ad nauseam. I eventually quit writing the stories, too, as I grew more disheartened by the insanity that was happening across my country.

I’m fucking tired of having to point out that abortion is legal in this country. It’s a legitimate medical procedure, but the rabid right have managed to make it difficult to obtain for the most vulnerable members of our society. Let’s face it. If you have money, you’ll always be able to get an abortion. It’s the people who can’t afford to fly to a different state or country or to even go to the metropolitan city nearest to them that may or may not provide abortions who are most hurt by the curtailing of reproductive rights in our country. I’ll be honest with you. One of the reasons I started slacking on covering this beat is because personally, I’m one of those women who can obtain an abortion with relative ease. My state is middle-of-the-road in providing abortions, but I have the ability to travel to a more-amenable state or country if need be. In addition, I have no kids, so I have no immediate skin in the game. However, I do have a niece I love and my BFF has a daughter, and I want them to have as many if not more options than I had in my sluttiest years. A woman’s life is made infinitely easier when she has the choice (oooh, there’s that dreaded word again) when/if to reproduce and to be a mother.

I have been dreadfully lax in tackling the opposition because of the hopelessness I’ve felt about the issue, but the Hobby Lobby ruling changes that. My tiredness now is less that of one who has given up and more of one who is fucking fed up. This shit has gone way too far, and if we don’t stop it now, we’ll be pre-Roe v. Wade again before we know it. Let’s be excruciatingly clear about this. There have always been abortions, and there will always be abortions. It’s just a matter of how safe they’re going to be. There’s already a thriving black market for an abortion pill in Texas as it continues its assault on Roe v. Wade (h/t @Sillmyril on the Twitter Machine), and this will continue to spread across the country if we don’t stem the tide of anti-abortion laws that are being passed.

I’m tired of feeling hopeless about this issue. I’m tired of sitting on the sidelines and allowing this to happen. I’m tired of letting the bullies fucking win. I don’t give a fuck what religions want to do as long as the actions only impact themselves. If they want to go into their parishioners’ homes and make sure they’re not using contraceptives, that’s fine with me. It probably wouldn’t be fine with their parishioners, but not my problem. But, once they leave the confines of their religions and venture into the society at large, then I care passionately. Not only do we need to stop giving money to companies who support this bullshit, we have to start fighting fire with fire. If freedom of religion now means that anything anyone believes religiously is fact, then we have to use this to our advantage. In addition, with the buffer zone ruling that all public sidewalks are fair game, it’s time to fight dirty. For example, let’s start protesting outside of Catholic churches about the heinous way they’ve covered up their child-rape by priests scandal. Let’s scream at them how it’s immoral to spend over $600,000 on passing the anti-queer bigotry into the Minnesota Constitution (yes, I’m looking at you, Archbishop Nienstedt (who, by the way, in under investigation for inappropriate relationships with men, and this just after he was investigated for allegedly groping the buttocks of a boy), you asshole) when the money could have been used to feed the poor and help the sick. If we do this every day around the country, you can bet they would be howling for protection zones with all their might.

I’m spitballing here and not completely serious, but I’m also not completely joking, either. What we’ve been doing so far hasn’t worked, so it’s time to change our tactics. They want a fight? They fucking have one. I’m not advocating violence of any kind, but we’re a bright bunch. We need to get creative in our response to this continual bullshit.  I’m tired, yes, but I’m also more determined than ever that this is the hill upon which I’ll die. I’m bringing a flamethrower and my rusty pitchfork™. Who’s with me?!?



*Just the conservative members, and really, who didn’t know how the vote was going to go down?

**Yes, trans*men can have abortions, too, but that’s not a part of this post, so I will be using woman/women throughout.

***I stopped using the term pro-life ages ago because they are not pro-life. They are not pro MY life, nor are they pro anything that would sustain said life once it’s outside the body. I am glad that we’ve succeeded to a certain extent to change ‘pro-life’ to ‘anti-choice’ because that’s really what they are. We need to start winning the game of framing which we’ve ceded to the antis for far-too-long.

****They don’t say how the justices broke down, but we all know it’s the same as the Hobby Lobby ruling.

*****True, by the way.

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