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Health Insurance Coverage a Courtesy? No, It's Your—and My—Wages



This article is written by No Longer Quivering guest writer, “Sierra,” a PhD student living in the Midwest. She was raised in a “Message of the Hour” congregation that followed the ministry of William Branham. She left the Message in 2006 and is the author of the blog The Phoenix and Olive Branch.

I am fed up. Truly, deeply fed up. I’m fed up with the arrogance and hypocrisy of the fools who think there’s honestly any reason to oppose women’s free access to birth control other than to eliminate our ability to determine our own destinies. And so I’m about to say something uncharacteristically angry. I don’t apologize for it and I offer no overtures of respect for the Right Wing zealots who think they hold the moral high ground on this issue.

Shame on you, America, for your failure to recognize your female population as a group of citizens with the right to self-determination. Shame on you for tolerating blowhards and pompous dictators with crosses on their chests.

I received an ignorant comment just now, and I haven’t posted it because there’s enough vile refuse floating in the public sphere as it is. But suffice to say that it boiled down to this:

“Don’t tell the government to stay out of your reproductive choices and then demand that everyone else pay for you to have sex.”

My commenter is far from alone in this sentiment. In fact, she echoes Rush Limbaugh and all the other drooling windbags who think “taxpayers” are somehow being bled dry for the pleasures of others, of women, as though there is something about “women” that sets them apart from the former category. I have news for you, self-righteous cowards.

Women ARE taxpayers. Women ARE workers. Women EARN their health care every day of the year. If you think for a hot second that a health insurance package is a mere courtesy bestowed on you by a kindly employer, I pity you for sipping the antifreeze so willingly. Do you realize who is really benefiting from that freedom of conscience you so raucously defend? It isn’t you, that’s for sure. You have just given away your rights to decent employment, by framing health insurance as a sort of largess sprinkling down from the corporate king. How easily you sell away your own labors, your own bodies, pretending you haven’t given up your choices because you pay “out of pocket.” Thinking you’re the harder worker because you’ve agreed to accept less than what you’re due. No, I’m afraid that doesn’t make you heroic. It makes you dreadfully, painfully gullible.

Health insurance is part of earned incomeWhen a woman takes a job, she is offered a health insurance package in addition to her paycheckas compensation for her work. Do I hear you saying that’s “entitled”? How droll. A workman is worthy of his hire, isn’t he (1 Timothy 5:18, for those who like references)? Why isn’t a working woman worthy of receiving the fruits of her labor?

When I fill my prescription, I assure you that you aren’t the one paying for it. I am. When I go to the classroom and teach, when I grade papers, when I sit in office hours and coach your children on how to write, I am earning my own birth control. So are you. Whether you pay your own premiums or not, you are exchanging hours of your life for insurance. And if you don’t have insurance – how is that something to be proud of? It means you work for an employer who can’t be bothered to invest in its employees. It means you work for a corporation that finds you disposable, that tells you that you’d be a fool to expect your health to matter. Is that “freedom”? Really? Just because the all-seeing entity that wants to decide your fate doesn’t bear the stamp of the United States government? How utterly naive.

Health insurance is not a courtesy. It’s wages. Furthermore, you might ask if I support universal health care. Yes, indeed, I do. But halt your crying about the horrible burden of the “taxpayers,” struggling against the weight of my supposed promiscuity (along with most of the women, married or not, in America). Because guess what. I am a taxpayer. You think your taxes are the ones supporting me, supporting the “lifestyle” you so hypocritically disdain. What, then, are my taxes supporting – yours? Shall I stop paying? If it’s you taking care of me one way or another, O mighty “taxpayers”, then perhaps I’ll withdraw my own support from the system since my dollars don’t seem to be doing much good. Good luck to you when you need ventilators, pain relief and open-heart surgery. I’ll be in jail, assuring that you can finally gripe about your taxes supporting me with some feeble shred of honesty.

The truth is, I’m willing to shoulder the burden for the young, the elderly and the disabled because I am a taxpayer who believes in the power of this nation to collectively care for itself. But apparently you aren’t, or at least you demand a paternalistic veto power over the medical decisions of those you claim to support. Again, I have news for you: whether I am receiving universal health care from the government or earning it as part of my own income package, I assure you that you needn’t trouble your heads about my moral choices. Because I don’t rely on your taxes any more than you rely on mine. I am a taxpayer, I am a woman, and I use birth control.

If you consent to let employers of any stripe deny you the insurance that you have worked for, then your blood is on your own hands. I am not so blind as to regard that “freedom” and “personal responsibility” you tout as anything more than corporate robbery. By your own standards, health care is my right. I have earned it. I have paid for it. Although I despise your selfish philosophy and condemn your willingness to see others to their deaths rather than part with a grimy dollar, I assure you that I will not accept your sneers or apologize for the things I do with what I earn. I use birth control. I pay taxes. I earn my health care and I believe in paying it forward to those who can’t yet. And, you arrogant fools, I owe you nothing.


*people that use contraception or can get pregnant, not just cis women.

We, as a society, need to move away from the false belief that healthcare isn’t a basic human right. We need to move away from linking healthcare access to employment. We need to move away from valuing the consciences of unthinking, unfeeling corporate entities over workers. We need to stop with our pseudo-righteous notion of the “American Dream” and the Puritan Work Ethic. We need to stop snidely turning up our noses at others for not living up to our own personal version of responsibility and accountability. It’s disgusting really to look at so many countries in Europe who are far from perfect but tend to have their priorities straight in a way we do not, and see how greedy and self-involved we are as a nation. It saddens me to think that universal healthcare and education will never be a reality here because too many people pride themselves on both abusing and condemning the poor as parasites and subscribing to the false belief that they got where they are simply by virtue of hard work.

Please read this. Someone finally puts into words what has been keeping me up at night. This “debate” over health insurance and contraception is WRONG, and this blog spells out why.

I’ve been saying for the better part of the last 20 years: If you think if someone has a uterus, you are entitled to deny them full citizenship in the form of equal protection under the law, the right to privacy, and the right to be free from slavery and indentured servitude (14th, 4th, and 13th amendments to the constitution.) Subject them to taxation without representation ( a government that determines that a person’s body is public property is not representing that citizen.) Please know that I have ZERO problem with declaring myself exempt from taxation, full stop.

The U.S. Government has used my tax dollars to fund wars I dissented with, while telling me that dissent is tantamount to treason, committed torture, disappeared people, given billions of dollars in subsidies to corporations WHILE THEY ARE BREAKING THE LAW, and now wants to tell me that I am nothing more than my biology. Again. 

Say it with me: FUCK. THAT. NOISE. 

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    I’m a day late for International Women’s Day, but this essay is brilliant and true. I kind of want to print it out and...
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