Hobby lobby already provided contraception to their employees prior to the healthcare mandate. 16 different kinds.
And it was never stated in…
I don’t usually share such personal stories on the internet, but y’know what? Fuck it. This is important shit.
Let me tell you what it’s like living in a country with socialised medicine and a rational approach to women’s healthcare needs.
I lived in Scotland for six years when I was attending university. Scotland is one of the many lovely nations which employs a national healthcare service paid for by taxes. I had to go to the emergency room once to get my face taped shut after a martial arts training accident that came narrowly close to taking out my right eye, and didn’t have to pay a penny for the privilege. When I knackered my knee climbing nine floors’ worth of stairs twice a day to class one year, the doctor also didn’t cost me a thing for a basic exam and treatment recommendation — which was super effective and stupidly cheap.
And when my boyfriend and I suffered a condom failure one night, I was able to get access to Plan B not just the next day, but for free.
Let me repeat that: It cost me nothing.
I was a college student, and due to my age unable to get a job which was compatible with my study schedule (odd minimum wage laws), so my personal income was minimal-to-zilch on a good month. There was one time I had literally £6 to feed myself with for a week, and I’m lucky I had a monthly bus pass or I’d never have got to class that week at all. My boyfriend-at-the-time was working minimum wage and nearly four years my junior. I have no desire for children, and he certainly wasn’t prepared for it at the time.
After class the next day, I went down to the youth care centre. It’s a nondescript building in the middle of the city with nothing but a laminated paper sign taped to the front door where everyone from children to young adults can go for assistance with abuse situations and medical advice and care including reproductive healthcare, with no prying questions asked.
Inside, it was quiet, clean, dimly lit with the blinds drawn, and had the look of one of the university offices off Bristo Square — comfortably shabby with mismatched donated furniture and racks of fliers full of basic health information. I was asked to fill out a short questionnaire with my reason for being there and a basic medical history. They didn’t want to know my name; all they needed to know was that I was healthy and had walked in the door of my own accord, and whether I preferred a male or female medical practitioner to see me.
When it was my turn, I was brought into an office by a doctor who sat me down with a pile of literature about reproductive issues, the pharmaceutical contents of the pill I was asking for, and a comprehensive list of its potential side effects and what to do to deal with the worst of them. There was no accusation or coercion from the doctor herself other than a query as to why I hadn’t come in first thing in the morning rather than waiting til after class. She sat there and watched me read the information, all of it, page by page, which took about 15 minutes. I had to tickybox every page as I finished it.
At the end of that, I was finally nervous — not because I wasn’t certain I wanted emergency contraception anymore but because I already have a delicate hormonal balance and I absolutely hate when my own body behaves unpredictably. But I figured a period of discomfort was preferable to the alternative (which I swear would drive me insane; not figuratively, but in the actual literal sense of insanity). I was not permitted to take the pill later; if I was dead certain, I had to take it right there and then, with the doctor watching me to make sure I didn’t palm the pill to give to someone else outside the facility.
And as far as obtaining emergency contraception, that was it. Of course, what followed was a miserable month of the worst of the PMS symptoms — I really don’t recommend Plan B as a recreational drug unless you have a fetish for feeling cranky, tired, feverish and sore all over for the next 21 days — and it took a couple more months for my system to regain stability again. That part sucked.
Do I have any regrets? None. None whatsoever. Am I grateful to Scotland’s health service for offering a safe and secure environment in which to obtain the care I needed? Every damn day. I was able to complete my education and focus on my career the way I needed to because I was afforded respect as a responsible adult.
Do I get pissed off when people suggest that American women should not have access to this very same safe, secure and affordable service? You better fucking believe it. Every time someone puts a barrier between women and our basic healthcare — whether it’s distance, availability, cost or waiting periods or telling outright LIES to change our minds — they tell us that we are less human than they are, and less worthy of being treated with civility, dignity and respect; that making the decision to prioritise over reproduction makes us irresponsible and unreliable.
Every woman should be able to have access to what I had in 2006. It’s not a privilege, it’s a right. Scotland gets it. Fucking Scotland. People in the US ask me if Scotland even has electricity and internet, never mind comprehensive healthcare. But America can’t seem to figure out that 51% of its population are people, too.