Controversy continues on contraception, and for reasons that go deeper than might be generally recognized. The idea that citizenship begins at conception involves a practical consequence that can be brutal to women when it goes from theory to practice. Religious freedom to one side becomes the freedom to practice economic feudalism to the the other.
In North Carolina, New Hanover County turned down a state grant to the County Health Department. Part of the funding was for IUDs for women who go to county clinics. Right-to-life principles, when applied rigidly, collide to the right of women to practice most forms of family planning.
The theory among the most ardent right-to-life true believers is that the moment of conception should also be the beginning of citizenship, with the new zygote having all the rights of a fully formed adult.
This is even more significant than it may sound at first. Most zygotes, formed as the sperm meets the egg, do not result in pregnancy as we normally define it. In fact, the vast majority of zygotes never make it to the uterine wall. They travel down fallopian tubes, one after another, tumbling about, competing to get to that wall. Most never make it. Even successful pregnancies come about because just one out of many blastocysts, the fertilized eggs, get attached to the wall. Later, the egg that managed to get attached becomes an embryo.
An IUD, when successful, prevents any zygotes from attaching. Anything that keeps zygotes from attaching and becoming embryos is what the most extreme opponents of contraception call an "abortifacient."
Well, not anything. Most zygotes never make it no matter what. Otherwise most sexually active women would not only be pregnant almost every minute, they would be constantly pregnant with multiple embryos in various stages of development. So those who see human citizenship beginning at the moment of conception have confined their activities to preventing abortion. Life may begin at conception, but protection would begin at implantation.
Or so it was until recently.
That struggle has advanced. Now the fight has been taken further up the tube. Most methods of birth control are under attack, aspirin being one exception.
This is one reason the Republican Commissioners of New Hanover County in North Carolina voted to keep IUDs out of the hands of women who rely on county clinics. There was also a moral reason. According to the Wilmington Star News, some of those on the Board of Commissioners were opposed because "they didn't think taxpayers should foot the bill for contraceptives that could go to people who were irresponsible." Sexual irresponsibility among women was the issue.
Apparently a lot of women, and men who like women, took exception. The entire matter is going to be raised again. The County Board may reconsider whether to overturn their new policy.
Nationally, Republicans see the issue of contraception as one of religious freedom. They do not want employers to be required to participate in contraceptive choices they may disagree with. They feel strongly enough about this be unwilling to follow the Democratic compromise. President Obama has famously proposed that religious employers be exempt from involvement, but that insurance companies themselves be required to provide contraceptives independent of those employers.
One argument that has been made by those who think contraception is none of an employer's business is that women occasionally take contraceptives for medical reasons other than birth control. That is why some Republicans have suggested a more moderate course, one involving compromise.
In Arizona, Republicans on the state Senate Judiciary Committee have voted out a bill that would allow employees the contraceptive coverage they want directly from insurance companies for reasons other than birth control. If employers oppose contraception on moral grounds they may intercede. Employers would have the right to interrogate employees about why they want contraceptives. Where employers are not satisfied with details of the morality of employee lives, they could demand medical records to back up claims of medical need.
Under the Arizona Republican legislation, female employees who do not submit to questioning about their sexual habits or fail to produce private medical records on demand for the perusal of their bosses could be fired for cause.
It's about freedom of religion and the moral conscience of employers. Don't force me to participate against my religious order.
It's also about the freedom of employees to make independent choices about their health without giving up insurance coverage or privacy. Stay out of my bedroom.
The most workable solution seems to me the Obama doctrine.
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One could also say that the sperm is human also. The argument that birth the abortion pill, for example, is murder, is the same argument as "a condom is murder." Therefore, one makes as much sense as the other: none.
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