Politics of the Pill

This incubator is overused because you’ve kept it filled,

The feeling good time’s easy now since I’ve got the pill,

It’s gettin’ dark it’s roostin’ time and that’s too good to be real,

Oh daddy don’t you worry now cause momma’s got the pill – Loretta Lynn, “The Pill

In 1972, Loretta Lynn became controversial when she recorded “The Pill.” Yeah, it’s an empowerment song, and I really like the way she drawls over the word “incubator.” Discussion of birth control was considered risqué at the time. It was crazy wild especially in country music.Significant numbers of country music radio stations refused to play it. Regardless,this song became her highest-ranking pop song peaking at number 70 on the Top 100. Loretta Lynn stated in a Playgirl Magazine interview2 that numerous rural doctors told her how “The Pill” had done more to educate women in isolated rural areas on birth control than any literature that the doctors had provided. This was 40 years ago, and yet birth control is still controversial.

Today, there are three participants in this controversy. Religious organizations such as the Catholic Church and Evangelical gaggles, politicians, and women. The first two of these participants seem to be heavily into the policy debate (well their belief on what the policy debate is), whereas women seem to bitching on Facebook and on blogs.

Christianity’s (and gaggle’s) view on birth control is based on two biblical references:

8And Judah said unto Onan, Go in unto thy brother’s wife, and marry her, and raise up seed to thy brother.

9And Onan knew that the seed should not be his; and it came to pass, when he went in unto his brother’s wife, that he spilled it on the ground, lest that he should give seed to his brother.

10And the thing which he did displeased the LORD: wherefore he slew him also. – Genesis 38


He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD. Deuteronomy 23:1

I’m not sure about the whole “privy member cut off” thing, but that sounds painful. Additionally, one cannot dismiss God’s commandment of be “fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28). Interestingly, these are books of the Old Testament and not part of the New Testament (which is the basis of Christianity). Personal religious views are guide posts, but they are not legitimate foundations of public policy. This is not a new issue for religious organizations or their businesses.

Twelve years ago (2000), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that companies that provided prescription drugs to their employees but didn’t provide birth control were in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which prevents discrimination on the basis of sex. That opinion, which the President George W. Bush’s administration did nothing to alter or withdraw when it took office the next month, is still in effect today—and because it relies on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, it applies to all employers with 15 or more employees. Employers that don’t offer prescription coverage or don’t offer insurance at all are exempt, because they treat men and women equally—but under the EEOC’s interpretation of the law, you can’t offer other preventative care coverage without offering birth control coverage, too.3

Federal law, and its protection of all members of society, trumps personal religious views when those views, or beliefs, affects the rights of others. Even if the majority of Americans disagreed with this mandate, the federal government is obligated to ensure the rights of the minority are protected.

Politicians are opportunists. Catholic Church outcry against the birth control mandate transformed into Evangelical outrage… which then moved into the arena of GOP soundbites. This is not about birth control, this is about disliking President Obama. I am prone to say that this is racism, however, I also think that it is a visceral reaction to what some believe is a true progressive President. In the end, I don’t think the color the President’s skin is what completely causes these reactions; it is the divisive nature of politics and the incorrect belief that there is an assault on traditions and Christianity.4

I almost feel like I don’t have a dog in this fight. I’m not Catholic, I’m not an Evangelical, and I’m not a woman. But the focal point of this debate is missing a voice. That voice is women. Oddly, the GOP presidential nomination process has turned into a discussion on women, their roles in society (like military service), and their health. Honestly, I don’t think the Catholic Church, the Evangelicals, and politicians really give a shit about women. Well, they give a shit as in they want women in their place, but they really aren’t worried about birth control. These three male dominated groups are interested in maintaining and their power, and they are happy to throw women (and their reproductive organs) under the bus. Hopefully, women will quit bitching and actually reply with votes come this November.

1. To the chagrin of their rock-n-roll counter parts, country and western artists like Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, and Johnny Cash were toking and snorting as much as anyone. The country music industry was attempting to maintain an image that ensure sales but did not accurately reflect the artists’ actual lifestyles. Probably going on today in the Nashville scene.

2. Holy shit, Loretta Lynn gave a Playgirl Magazine interview! LL is my new country music heroine! 

3. Here is the source for this paragraph.

4. I will agree there is an assault on Christianity the day the Federal government no longer recognizes Christmas as a holiday and makes me work on it. Until then, Christianity will be the only religion that gets a Federal holiday.


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