Her Body, Her Lifetime

handsThe internet waves are rising with the knowledge of the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby Decision, reacting to the decision the Court calls “limited.”

Those of us on the beach are wondering what this could someday mean for an individual woman. As a thought experiment, let’s think about this woman as she enters her reproductive years, and exits them.

Early on in Eva, Rae or Henry’s life (ERH), she had painful, excruciating cysts forming on her ovary. Modern birth control hadn’t yet come to pass for her, so she underwent surgery to remove that troublesome ovary.

Today, perhaps, she would be prescribed birth control that would calm and regulate the hormones driving the formation of the cysts, or help to stop them. Pick a card: is that prescription on the “forbidden list for the closely held corporation?”

Later, in her all women’s college, Eva or Rae, or maybe Henry, will decide it is time to find an approved, allowed, barrier form of birth control. Something discreet that can be managed out of the watchful eye of the dorm Mom. So, the new clinic that skirts the bounds of the Comstock Act introduces her to condoms and the earliest form of a diaphragm. She finds she loves the diaphragm. It provides discretionary control, cost efficiency and familiarity with how her body actually works. This method of birth control is on the approved list.

Eva, Rae or Henry eventually gets married. The couple has  their first child and in a remarkable feat of barbaric and modern medicine, her child is born after a traumatic delivery that distorts and scars her cervix.

This means she can never use her beloved diaphragm ever again. (except to hold in her cervix because it keeps poking through that crazy outlet, the vagina…)

The girls learn that nursing, for her, is a maternal joy and provides the baby with all she needs. To protect her baby from harmful chemicals that could be transmitted via breast milk (and remember, she can’t use her favored method of birth control any longer), she takes a chemical, hormonal form of birth control. It is the kind that is not allowed on the list because it has the same ingredient as the “morning after pill.” She takes these pills anyway because they are best for the baby and due to her injuries and sleep-deprived life, she needs very accurate birth control.

Now, Eva, Rae or Henry can no longer take the same pill as the non-approved pills begin to cause painful cysts to form in her one ovary. She switches to a Triphasic method of birth control. Is it or isn’t it on the list?

And then..Years go by and a powerful medical complication crops up in the family line: stroke. Her doctor’s nurse phones her to say that she can’t take her pills.

She needs to go back on the one that causes cysts. Is this covered? ERH must ask.

Ultimately, the girls opt for sterilization, a tubal ligation, which is covered, and they cheer.

No more worries.

But then…

Here comes menopause, and the girls wonder if they even matter anymore. All the pills would theoretically be hunky dory now, now that it would take a blooming miracle to conceive with tied tubes. She still needs those hormones for that occasional flash….or mind fart-y ness. But for that one little miracle, could the list still be relevant? ERH must ask.

The women don’t know all the ins and outs of the list, or these medications. But they now must look at their employer’s approved list. The women that  need that job to serve their families, that love crafting, and all the various Chinese imports sold at Hobby Lobby are forever and after going to have to ask their employer. “Father, Mother, may I?” Forever and ever, and that is frightening to women, and this is something the Supreme Court should have understood.

At each and every juncture of ERH’s lives, they had a medical, health related event that intersected with their reproductive lives, or was simply and causally related to their health and well-being. The debate about abortion and reproductive rights makes us believe, falsely, that women can always choose what happens to them. The debate around birth control makes us believe one type of birth control is interchangeable with any other when some have side effects or cannot be used. Women are flesh and blood, and need health care. Birth control is medicine that gives them access to better lives, better care for themselves, and their future children along their life course.

Eva, Rae or Henry was prone to reproductive issues her whole life, subjected to surgery as a young woman, injury in childbirth, and medical history and life changes that impacted her health. Why in the world should anyone but Eva, Rae, or Henry and her doctor make decisions about what medicine she can and cannot take for her health?

Next, Hobby Lobby will want all women to give birth in pain and suffering because the “Bible Says So.” (Would birth related pain medication be deemed essential health care by our highest court, not subject to the faith system of a closely held corporation?)

Which biblical beliefs and precepts are about health care and which are not? Which precepts applied to the workplace are a right of free religious exercise and which are impingements of our individual and civil rights?


What our dear brothers in the Court have done is to put women in a supine position where they no longer get to decide. Again.

Ignorant, reductionist, blind bats.



“If only our lives were that simple.”


To do something about this, see:

The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice

Planned Parenthood 

The National Council of Jewish Women

SisterSong: Women of Color Reproductive Justice Collective

Law Students for Reproductive Justice

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