Your Uterus is Private Property; okay, I get it.

On Friday, March 23, I attended the “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” rally in downtown Providence. The rally was well-attended for a weekday afternoon; there were about 100 people there, including children. The event was down-to-earth, and was emceed by a mother of six. It was by far the most diverse rally I’ve ever been to; people of all ages, genders, and ethnicities were present.

Like any rally or protest, there was a counter-protest. These people were toting signs from Planned Parenthood and the National Organization of Women. They were also all dressed in matching clothes—the Planned Parenthood women were wearing pink, and the NOW supporters were in purple. The counter-protestors were all (at least that I could see) white women between the ages of 20 and 40.

The protestor’s main tactic wasn’t actual disruption, but rather coaxing others to disrupt for us. They stood at the side of the road, clutching signs that encouraged people to honk. One of them said, “Honk if you love women.” Obviously, every red-blooded male was going to honk at that sign, and honk quite enthusiastically. This caused a substantial amount of noise and made it hard to hear the speakers.

I found the message to be a bit strange— honk if you love women?  I believe most people love women, the Catholic Church and other religious denominations included. I was a bit confused as to why Planned Parenthood seemed to stake a claim on being the exclusive lover of women; after all, the things that go on in their clinics have resulted in the deaths  and serious injury of women— not to mention that their clinics kill thousands of unborn women every day.

The sign that really irked me was one held by a girl about my age that read “My Uterus is Private Property.” Yes, her uterus is indeed private property (until the day she gets pregnant, then she’ll be renting it out for a few months), but she expects people to be forced to pay for things for her uterus even if they’re morally opposed to it. A person’s house and front yard are private property—yet I don’t see anyone protesting their homeowners insurance not paying for paint jobs or landscaping.

In the vast majority of cases, birth control pills are not medically necessary, and nobody is forced to work for a Catholic employer who won’t pay for the pills under insurance. If a person wants birth control, they can hop over to Target and get pills for about $9 a month, or they can go to Walmart or and get a 60-pack of condoms for about $20. Nobody at the rally actually wanted to ban birth control access. The Stand Up rallies were primarily about religious freedom—the freedom for a religious organization to actually live out their beliefs.

Some of the protestors at the rally invented fictitious examples of the church being discriminatory (by refusing to hire someone of a certain ethnic background), and asked if those practices too would be covered under religious freedom. This, however, is entirely different. A church denying employment to a person of color is a violation of that person’s rights. A black man is just as capable of doing good work as a white man, and if he doesn’t, it is impossible that his poor work ethic has anything to do with his skin color. The two variables are unrelated. A group refusing to pay for birth control pills is not a rights violation because birth control pills are not medically necessary to function.

If you want birth control, you can pay for it yourself. That’s what private property is, right?

Christine Rousselle | Providence College | Providence, Rhode Island | @CRousselle