President Trump has just made it easier for employers to deny women insurance coverage for contraceptives. Stated another way, employers can limit important preventive medicines, thus limiting the rational ability of their employees to control their reproductive life by simply claiming these medicines conflict with the employer’s religious beliefs.
This is nothing more then a continuation of a historical dark force in Western patriarchal culture. That is, the elevation of female reproductive function as paramount over any other possible value femaleness provides to society.
President Trump should not be held culpable for this as he is only an example (an outstanding example) of our cultural tendency to consider women as trophies of male conquest. The fault — and therefore the solution — lies with religion. Western religions have historically had a major ethical deficiency as a consequence of placing women under the dominance of their husbands. That is, their religious purpose is to produce offsprings only from their husband.
Consider women under Wahhabism in Saudi Arabia. They have been jailed for driving a car. According to the Economist in a recently published article, religious leaders have promulgated this restriction because: 1) women are too stupid to drive; 2) males would be dangerously distracted by seeing women drivers; 3) driving would make it easier for wives to commit adultery; and 4) driving will injure their ovaries.
These rationalizations are not credulous or supported by the Koran. Similarly, the religious prohibition against contraceptives is not rational and not reference in the bible.
Certain religious teachings on human sexuality are outside the realm of science, nature and rational thinking. They are more consistent with maintaining the Western cultural doctrine of male superiority and dominance.
Religious objection to contraceptives is based on an unfounded belief that procreation is the first purpose of sex and all other benefits are subjugated to this purpose. This belief would hold that a women’s desire for companionship, physical and mental enjoyment, control of family size, giving solace and enjoyment to your partner are sinful if any of these actions are performed in a way that prevents procreation.
This belief is unethical. When religious beliefs prevent an individual’s inalienable right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, they should be resisted and eventually suppressed — not placated by the courts in the guise of religious freedom.
After centuries, the Saudis are beginning to stand up to Wahhabism’s irrationality. The United States is not there yet. It is time for a call to action. Religious irrationality and hypocrisy needs to be exposed and contradicted. A woman’s right to regulate her own life and heath, independent of religious irrationality and male bigotry, needs to be amplified by all of society.
If an employer is legally bound to provide health insurance, that insurance should be required to provide preventative services including contraceptives. There should be no exception for religious bigotry.
William D. Bezdek,, M.D., is a retired physician.