Nobody gets to have a say in the size of your family, least of all your employer!

There is a fabulous new BDN blog, launched last month, called “We’re {not} having a baby!” written by Amy and Lance Blackstone! Considering that I have had many babies, you may not think I would enjoy this blog. However, after taking Professor Amy Blackstone’s online class a few years ago, the Sociology of Gender, I became a fan of her work and I truly enjoy reading about her experiences.

While I am disappointed that childless couples still have to defend their choices to others, I am pleased that more and more of them have the courage to make that brave and often unpopular choice!

There was a time when NOT having a baby was never an option. Unless there was a medical issue, or you were very lucky, if you had sex, you had a baby. That was that. Babies were had because sex was had. Getting married and having children was just what happened and it required no more forethought than growing old or getting grey hair because there was nothing you could really do about any of it.

I believe that having children is a commitment that should be well thought out and, above all else, something that you want to do with your whole heart and mind.

Many women my age already have grandchildren! When asked if I’m anxious to become a grandmother folks are often shocked to hear me say “absolutely not!” I want my children, all between the ages of 22 and 29, to make that choice because it is what they want to do more than anything. If they all choose never to have children, well so be it! I want them to bring children into the world because they are deeply committed and ready to be wonderful parents, not to satisfy my need to buy cute little outfits and stuffed animals. I want them to fit as much living in as they can first. I know better than anyone how being a parent changes your life and, if you are a good one, limits the choices you can later make for yourself and your own goals and dreams.

Don’t get me wrong! I love babies! My children are my greatest accomplishments! However, the bottom line it that it was MY choice, when to have them and when to stop it!  My friends, pastor at the time, and family had no choice in the matter! And certainly, without a doubt, I would have never even considered that my boss had any say!

So why do we have this wonderful freedom now, to choose or not choose to become a parent. Well, it’s that little thing called BIRTH CONTROL! Strangely, I don’t see those folks who are so opposed to it traveling with 12-15 kids trailing behind them. I assume they must be doing something to limit the size of their own families. Yet, instead of focusing on what is going on in their own homes they are bound and determined to make choices for the rest of us too.

Conservative groups, politicians and businesses continue to try to tell women what they can and can’t do with their own bodies despite evidence that women from all ends of the political spectrum would like them to mind their own business. A study released this week and reported on in Huffington Post “Woman Strongly Oppose Hobby Lobby Birth Control Case: Poll,” (in reference to the Supreme Court case Sebelius v. Hobby Lobby) shows that 84% of the women surveyed believe that birth control “should be a woman’s personal decision, and her boss should not be able to interfere with it.”

Least we become complacent, let’s remember that its been less than 100 years since women have had the right to vote in this country. It’s been less than 50 years that women have had protection against discrimination in the work place, and within their own marriages, or access to safe birth control and abortion. (See “Ten Things Women Couldn’t Do Before the 1970s”).

I am amazed that we continue to have these outdated discussions. It seems so simple doesn’t it, like civil rights, marriage equality and equal pay. Despite that pesky little separation of church and state thing, there are those  still intent on forcing their religious beliefs down the throats of the rest of us! Let’s be very clear, businesses can say they are not making a choice for you, that they are just refusing to pay for it. However, refusing to pay for it is making a choice for many families, especially those already struggling to make ends meet!

On the other hand, another woman having access to birth control does not affect YOU at all. If you decide you don’t believe in it, nothing is preventing you from NOT using it! See how that works?

When it comes to our employers, they get to dictate our jobs, and in return we get paid. They don’t get to tell us what to believe, who to marry, or who to vote for. They certainly don’t get to have a say in the size of our families.

If we allow companies to interfere with our decisions about birth control what’s next? Our employer doesn’t believe in blood transfusions so we can’t have one? Our employer gets to decide if our cancer treatment is too aggressive, so its no longer paid for? How involved does our employer need to be in our health care coverage? Do I want them to know all of my diagnoses or medications? How will it affect my employment? What if an employee has mental health issues, has overcome addiction, is HIV positive, overweight or smokes? Do our employers’ own belief systems come into play when we seek coverage for these health care issues as well? Are we already dealing with some of this with new “managed care” and “wellness” programs?

The bottom line is, employ someone or don’t. Provide health insurance or don’t. The rest of it, every single bit of it, is no one’s business but the employee themselves!

Karen Foley

About Karen Foley

Karen Foley, has successfully been writing her blog for the BDN since May 2011. By successful, she means a few people read it, and she has not been sued, stalked or fired since starting it.