Yesterday I traveled to Jefferson City, Missouri to lobby some state legislators who recently voted on a resolution to deny women access to birth control without co-payments . I was appalled by this vote…not just because I know how important access to birth control is for my fellow Missourians, but also because these legislators wasted the people’s time on a blatant pander rather than using it to address our many economic woes.
So, I found myself at the capitol on a Tuesday trying to get answers and explain why representatives voting against access to birth control without co-payment are out-of-step with their constituents. After a rather unsatisfying meeting with a legislator who didn’t even bother to offer a defense for her vote against access to birth control without co-payments, I paused to have lunch with other pro-choice lobbyists there for the day.
Halfway through my meal, two men sat at the end of our table. The only eatery under the dome has cafeteria-style seating and I kind of like it because it forces folks to interact with each other. I overheard the two men talking about liberty and sovereignty and noticed one was wearing Tea Party jewelry.
I’m not joking….the dude was wearing a Don’t Tread on Me snake-based pin.
Actually, it was more of a brooch…anyhoo, I kid you not!
Brooch Man noticed our pink Birth Control Matters pins and asked us about the national debate over birth control. I should add that he asked in that “I’m looking forward to schooling you ignorant sheep on why you are ignorant sheep” kind of way that alerts me to a knavish fool in my midst. I eagerly engaged him in a conversation and quickly realized that this man thought he was going to talk about women trying to get free naughty sex pills. I gave him a lesson in birth control as health care instead.
Brooch Man offered up his view that all health care insurance is unnecessary and we didn’t even have it until after WWII.
I responded that the life expectancy for an American man in 1950 was 65 years old…the current life expectancy for a man is around 75 years old…but conceded that if an individual wants to give those 10 years back it’s her or his sovereign right to refuse health care.
Brooch Man went back to challenging birth control as health care.
I countered with a detailed medical explanation of how birth control works…explained that many women use birth control as hormonal therapy for a variety of medical conditions…then added the fact that increased access to birth control saves us all money…and ended with the fact that we all benefit when folks are empowered with the health care tools required to be healthy individuals, build healthy families and thus bring about healthy communities.
Brooch Man sat back with a frown.
I thanked him for his time and went back to lobbying.
On the drive back to St. Louis I replayed the conversation in my mind and I realized that Brooch Man shared a remarkable thing in common with the legislator I met with who voted the wrong way on access to birth control – neither one of them mentioned religious liberty as a defense for denying women access to birth control without co-payments.