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COLUMN: Where is the separation of church and state when it comes to birth control?


U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh described birth control as "abortion-inducing drugs" during his recent confirmation testimony.

Kavanaugh was responding to a question regarding the Priests for Life v. the Department of Health and Human Services case he dissented on in 2015. The religious organization Kavanaugh sided with did not want to supply employees with insurance coverage for contraceptives. Priests for Life claimed filling out the required form, under the contraceptive mandate of the Affordable Care Act, would make them complicit in providing "abortion-inducing drugs," which they were religiously objecting to. 

Although Kavanaugh was discussing the position of a separate organization, his reference appears to deem birth control as unnecessary, even detrimental. Both of which are not true. Birth control is basic health care. 

Kavanaugh's comment begs the question of whether he actually understands what birth control is. The possibility of a man who doesn't understand the science behind birth control being such a crucial decision maker in our government deeply concerns and personally affects me. 

According to the National Health Statistics Report Number 62, a total of 88 percent of women have used methods such as birth control pills, an injectable method, a contraceptive patch, or an intrauterine device in their lifetime. Some women simply use birth control as a contraceptive method. Others however, rely on birth control for very realistic health issues, such as endometriosis or extreme dysmenorrhea. 

I suffer from severe dysmenorrhea, the medical term for painful menstrual cramps. In order to function normally, I rely on the birth control pill. It's a basic form of health care that helps me live my life without excessive pain. 

However, before I had the discussion with my doctor about these very serious health concerns, I thought it was normal to suffer during my period so badly, I couldn't get out of bed. I also didn't understand that birth control could resolve these issues for me and help me function normally.Like me, a lot of young women don't know about all the side benefits of birth control.

I was raised Catholic, but I understand that birth control is not a form of abortion. I also believe there should be a distinct separation of church and state, especially when it comes to these types of issue.

As a Catholic woman, I acknowledge that there is a distinction in our community between what is right and wrong. However, I do not believe that distinction is ours to make for every citizen. Oftentimes, people confuse their opinion of "it's not for me" with "nobody should ever do that." Rules don't always apply to everybody else, especially if they're intended for a specific community. 

The First Amendment was crafted for a very specific reason:  not all people have the same religion or opinions. The public has the right to free speech and "congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof." 

Our government is a separate institution from religion. No one is forced to oblige with the beliefs of any particular religion. People have the right to make their own decisions, even if they disrespect the guidelines of a religion they are a part of. 

Women deserve the right to basic health care. Like it or not, birth control falls under that category. Therefore, no one, not a religion or even the government, should have the right to take that away from women. 

Our government needs to be educated on what birth control truly is because women deserve more than grown men spouting false accusations, with no scientific backing, about details of their health care.

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