Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Going Back to the Dark Ages

Opinion: Letter to the Editor: Going Back to the Dark Ages

With the July 8 decision by the Supreme Court to ban insurance coverage for contraceptives for women, we have gone back to the Dark Ages, where men in management will decide “what is best” for women who work in their offices and in their companies.

Perhaps this Court should have instead tried this case under the Fourteenth Amendment, which notes that no state may “deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws.” Is this not blatant discrimination based on gender to favor the men and not the women in applying this insurance ruling?

Why is there no uproar when males use the generic forms for the sexual prowess drugs like Viagra and Cialis and submit those receipts to their insurance companies for reimbursement?

Thanks to the voting by the 5 male majority members of the Supreme Court, my boss now has the right to decide what prescriptions my insurance will cover, and not my doctor.

This is not a new problem.

In 1873, Congress passed the Comstock Laws which criminalized the use of the U.S. Postal Service for anyone to send out by mail any information on contraception. In 1909, lawmakers tightened the law to prohibit delivery of those materials by railroads. And in 1922, Congress banned any foreign importation of these ‘salacious’ materials.

These intrusive and insulting laws remained on the books until 1965 when the Supreme Court intervened in the case of Griswold v Connecticut, when it ruled that it was unconstitutional for the federal government to prohibit married couples from using birth control. At that time, 26 states also prohibited the dissemination of birth control information for unmarried people.

In 2021, it is time for the Courts, Congress and various religious officials to stop equating “sex” with “sin” and to instead treat birth control as a private medical option, and not as a moral issue or an economic one.

These jurists and politicians should take the advice from my Irish Catholic, church-going mother, who was pregnant nine times. We lived in Oak Park, Ill., which the local newspaper declared “Oak Park’s fertile acres.” The data supported this assertion. In a two-block area, there were 242 kids. That included the Gallaghers with a brood of 14; the Graneys with nine girls; and the O’Brians with nine boys. I had only one friend who was an only child.

Before she died, my mom said she wanted to have a “serious conversation” with me, as the oldest child. She noted that, “after much thought,” she had finally decided that “birth control isn’t a sin.” And she wanted me to convey that information to my sisters. I said no, since it was none of my business. But added that’s the kind of information that should come from one’s mother.

My mother never got around to the contraception conversation, and died shortly afterwards. One sister at that time had two tiny tots -- and went on to have 10 more children.

There is great irony that the defendant in the birth control case is an order of celibate Catholic nuns, who have no need for this medication. Nor have they been required to pay for it for anyone else. Similarly, five of the Supreme Court Justices have had ties to the Catholic Church and its birth control doctrines. They join the all-male hierarchy of the Catholic Church in promulgating the birth control philosophy -- applicable to women.

In America, we have a right to expect that our Courts and their judges do not decide such cases on the basis of religion -- either theirs or anyone else’s.

The Constitutional mandate for the separation of Church and State does not have one set of rules for women and another for men. Maybe we will need a new Scarlet Letter tee shirt for women that proclaims: NCI, or Not Covered by Insurance.

Kathleen M. Burns