Dear Senator McKoon:
I am not a citizen of Georgia, but the legislation you passed recently could have long reaching affects into other states, including neighboring North Carolina. You are receiving this email because your quote found its way into one of the articles that I have read on the matter.
Republican state senator Joshua McKoon said of the legislation, “What I would say is the war that’s being waged is on a relative minority in this country that has strong beliefs that are protected by the First Amendment.”
83% of the people in the country view themselves as Christian. I would hardly say they are in the minority. Overall, 63% of Americans support the federal mandate that insurance companies cover birth control. Moreover, 57% of Americans are in favor of legal abortions in all or most cases. Obviously, I would say there is some overlap in the people who are Christian and the people who support these women’s issues.
You argue that people’s first amendment rights are being violated when their tax dollars pay for abortions that they do not agree with and when employees of religious institutions are seeking coverage for birth control. I paraphrased your quote with what the bill prohibits.
I would like to first of all take a look at the First Amendment right that you are fighting so hard to protect:
“Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof”
By allowing women who are state employees to seek an abortion and have their insurance pay for it, is Christianity attacked? By making an insurance company of a religious institution cover possibly life saving medication, is Christianity attacked? Can Christians no longer practice their religion or is their religion suddenly outlawed in this country? I didn’t think so.
You are confusing religious freedom with the “freedom” to force everyone to comply to your specific belief structure. What goes on in my body is between me and my doctor. If I am a state employee, and I need a life saving abortion, it is within my right to seek insurance coverage for this procedure, the same way anyone getting any type of life saving surgery would expect it to be covered. Just because the thing being operated on has the potential to become a human being does not make my life any less valid. When you deny a woman who may be in financial hardship the insurance coverage she needs, you are not magically changing her situation. If she cannot financially afford an abortion with no insurance coverage, what leads you to believe she can support having a baby? What makes you think she can afford the doctors visits to keep her healthy during the pregnancy and support the child afterwards? Restricting access to abortion does not make the situation better and does not mean women will not get them in other, less safe ways.
Moving on to the issue of birth control. Contrary to everything I’ve heard in popular media recently, birth control is not solely used to prevent pregnancy. Birth control can be a life saving medication for thousands of women. And if it isn’t life saving, it is a medically necessary to treat different conditions women face (http://www.youngwomenshealth.org/med-uses-ocp.html). Denying women birth control coverage can increase costs on the woman and her insurance company later when the conditions that were easily treatable by birth control are no longer so easily treatable (cysts that burst and damage ovaries, infertility, etc.).
Protecting people’s health should not be a matter of your religious preference. The Bible teaches to heal the sick and help those less fortunate. This should include women, especially considering that women are 51% of the population. Abortions and birth control are both medical procedures that help women and keep them healthy.
But in the long run, what you believe should not influence what my doctor and I decide is medically necessary for my health. If an abortion is necessary to keep me healthy and allow me to have children in the future, my insurance should cover it. If I need birth control to keep me healthy, my insurance should cover it because it is medically necessary like other medications (such as Viagra). Religion has no say in what keeps me healthy, especially because anything covered by insurance could be a moral objection to someone extreme enough. What is to stop a religious person from telling a cancer patient that dying of cancer is God’s plan and that patient should not be allowed to take chemo or radiation. Birth control is just as medically necessary for women. Once again, these decisions are between me and my doctor, not the government and my insurance company.
The First Amendment gives you the right to practice religion how you see fit and to believe in whatever religion you want. It does not give you the right to impose those beliefs on me and my body. As the saying goes, religion is like a penis: it’s fine to have one, it’s fine to be proud of it, but don’t go waving it about in public and trying to force it on my body. That crosses the line from religious freedom to something entirely different.
Mister Senator, it is 2012. We supposedly moved past the archaic belief that women should only stay home and have babies. I am an intelligent person and I deserve the same rights as my make counterparts to live in this world and do what I’d like with my body. Whatever I decide is between God and me. Please leave the decisions about my body up to me and I will leave the decision of what religious beliefs you follow up to you.