Oklahoma Birth Control Bill: Proposed Legislation Could Deny Employees Contraceptives


Oklahoma has apparently become the first state to perfect time travel and successfully transport itself back to the 18th century.

An Oklahoma lawmaker is advancing a measure that would allow employers to refuse birth control for any reason, based off the shoddy advice of a quack cardiologist who describes himself as a “natural family planning medical consultant and women’s health researcher.”

So I suppose that if I start describing myself as a rocket scientist, anything that I have to say about the physics of orbital mechanics would have to be taken into serious consideration. The next time I have a plumbing issue, I guess I can call my electrician too.

Under State Senator Clark Jolley (R-Okla.)’s measure, “no employer shall be required to provide or pay for any benefit or service related to abortion or contraception through the provision of health insurance to his or her employees.”

According to a Tulsa World article, the Oklahoma City cardiologist that inspired Jolley, Dr. Dominic Pedulla, thinks women are worse off with contraception because it suppresses and disables who they are.

“Part of their identity is the potential to be a mother,” Pedulla said. “They are being asked to suppress and radically contradict part of their own identity, and if that wasn’t bad enough, they are being asked to poison their bodies.”

The implication Dr. Pedulla makes is that women are baby factories with no other value. According to me, Dr. Pedulla should stick to cardiology unless his knowledge of heart health is as skewed as his knowledge of reproductive health and science. The last time I checked, I’m not defined by my potential to be a mother or how many children I do or do not have. A woman’s potential is what she chooses it to be — whether that includes having children or not is totally up to her, but I’m sure that her identity is not defined by that one choice.

Furthermore, considering that 99% of women of reproductive age have used some form of birth control, the Oklahoma women who rely on insurance coverage for their contraception would likely disagree with Pedulla’s assertion that it “suppresses and radically contradicts part of their own identity.”

Right wingers: you claim the priority is jobs, but a majority of your nationwide legislation has nothing to do with the ill state of the economy. It does have everything to do with suppressing women and controlling their bodies though, and that’s in line with what you think they are made for — making babies. Let me ask you this: will restricting a woman’s access to birth control create more jobs? I also find it hard to believe that Oklahoma is so well off that this issue is what the legislature has time to worry about.

Claims that birth control poisons the body are ludicrous. The FDA approved the first oral birth control pill in 1960, and that type of contraception is so safe that the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists recommends making it available without a prescription, as it is in most other countries around the world, according to a Think Progress article. Fun fact: birth control pills are just a manufactured version of a hormone that women naturally produce, or a synthesized one with a similar structure.

Chemotherapy poisons the body, so I guess we should ban one of the most heavily relied on cancer treatments by that logic too. Vasectomies should also be outlawed, because they eliminate a man’s “potential” to be a father. The logical extension of this measure just demonstrates that it would allow employers to deny any medical care because they feel like it and that it is blatantly discriminatory.

Another fun fact: birth control pills are not only used for pregnancy prevention. In fact, over 1.5 million women use birth control pills for reasons other than preventing pregnancy. Among the reasons are reducing menstrual cramps, regulating menstrual cycles, and regulating menstrual-related headaches. Unless you have bled from your external reproductive organ for a week every month (for some women, it lasts more than a week), and during that week also experienced extreme mood swings, fatigue, bloating, headaches, muscle aches, abdominal cramping, etc. etc. etc., have a seat with the rest of the men that have no say in what women choose to do regarding their reproductive health.

How likely is this bill to pass? Well, it has already been cleated in the Senate Health Committee and is making its way to Oklahoma’s full Senate. Of course, if the measure does become law, Jolley and Pedulla won’t be affected, but thanks to these two, the law would limit health insurance options for the nearly two million women who live in Oklahoma.

Affordable health care for women is a critical issue amongst that demographic. Having control over their reproductive choices allows women to achieve economic goals like completing education, becoming financially independent or keeping a job — of course, all the kinds of things people like Jolley and Pedulla don’t want happening.