I tried to write about this yesterday, but I just could not seem to collect my thoughts into cohesive sentences. I'm still pretty frustrated and very angry, but I don't want that to stop me from speaking up about it. There are also quite a lot of different aspects that could, and should, be discussed in regards to this case, such as the constitutional issues with the ruling, the millions of women who require birth control for reasons unrelated to pregnancy, and the flood gate that it has potentially opened, but one blog post is simply not enough to encompass them.
I'm going to be frank: this case had next to nothing to do with religious freedom; it is nothing but a pathetic, albeit unfortunately effective, shield, as usual. If Hobby Lobby's owners truly had deep religious convictions against birth control, than they would not be investing in companies that produce birth control and they would not be willing to cover men's vasectomies.
This, just like every other pro-life battle, has very little to do with protecting life and has everything to do with restricting women's ability to make choices about our sexual health for ourselves. Despite what they might say, and regardless of how many of them misguidedly believe that is what they are fighting for, the pro-life movement is not about ending abortion. There are methods which are proven to reduce the number of abortions in a society: comprehensive sex education and easy access to contraception. But the pro-life movement works hard fighting against both of them. And then, when women get pregnant because they could not protect themselves properly, they deny them access to safe abortions as well.
You cannot make abortions illegal; you can only make safe abortions illegal. All of those fine print additions about abortion only being allowable if the life of the mother is in danger are absolutely ridiculous because the life of any woman being forced into an unwanted pregnancy is in danger. Women will find a way. Outlawing abortion does not decrease the number of abortions; it increases the number of women who die from them.
Why on earth would a movement dedicated to protecting life want to outlaw every proven method of decreasing abortions? The same reason why they spend very little time fighting for the rights of the often single and often impoverished women struggling to raise the child(ren) they were forced into having: because protecting life is not their actual goal. Because they do not really consider an unwanted pregnancy a gift; they consider it a punishment.
The message these people want to send to women is not "stop having abortions;" it is "stop having sex." How many times have you seen someone respond to a woman angry about not being able to receive birth control with "just keep your legs closed"? This is what they want. In our society a woman who enjoys a healthy sex life is labeled a slut. Of course there is no male equivalent because men who have sex are not subjected to this same stigmatization (friendly reminder that never has there been an issue with insurance covering Viagra or vasectomies; this is not a coincidence.) Our society largely disapproves of women who dare to have sex for their own enjoyment, because tradition says we are not supposed to. And because women are not supposed to be having sex, women with unwanted pregnancies are viewed as receiving due punishment for their improper actions.
So here is the cycle they are seeking to create. First, provide only abstinence only sex education in an attempt to keep kids in the dark about sex from a young age, and to teach them it is something shameful. Scare them. Second, when women reach a point in their life where they are interested in having sex, make it very difficult for them to have access to proper contraception so they cannot take the necessary precautions to keep themselves safe. And finally, make it impossible for them to receive a safe and legal abortion in the event of an unwanted pregnancy as a result of the lack of access to birth control. Make sure they have no safe alternative, so that they will be scared to have sex in the first place.
It is all about control. It has always been about control. Women are learning that sex is something to be enjoyed and embraced, that it is not something only meant for the pleasure of men. We are fighting back against the archaic beliefs, against slutshaming, against the sexual oppression that has for so long been dominant in our society. And this is the conservatives, the people who oppose women's sexual liberation, fighting back.
The Hobby Lobby decision was a victory for oppression. But this fight is not over. It will never be over. And as angry as I am, I am also hopeful. Because I believe that the spike in misogyny that we have seen in recent years is a sign that they are scared. It is a backlash fueled by their fear of so many millions of women's and allies' voices screaming together that we demand better. And our voices will not be silenced. We are paving the future, my friends, and we cannot be stopped.