Say hello to my little friend: an IUD-having atheist’s FAQ for evangelicals.

I let myself get drawn into an internet debate today.

I know. I know. I know.

This used to happen to me often as a teenager and young 20-something, but then my brain finished cooking and I realized that this was largely a waste of everyone’s time.

When debating with an ideologue on the opposite end of the political/philosophical/ecumenical spectrum than I, I try to remember a few things:

  • This is a person.
  • This person’s ideas were not formed in a vacuum. Their internal logic does not make sense to me, but it does make sense to them.
  • I will not sway this person by using arguments and rhetorical tactics that I find compelling; I will not bring a creationist to evolutionary theory by quoting Dawkins any more than I will bring the illiterate to books by using the Oxford English Dictionary.
  • I will not sway this person by being hostile or petty.
  • I will probably not sway this person, period.
  • Discussions are not competitions.

On my best days, setting this example has led to some very civil, nuanced exchanges of ideas that may still ultimately have ended in a stalemate, but which at least left the door open for further discussion.

Today, the dogged, fatuous ignorance of the myopic, ass-licking troglodytes, absolutely TICKLED by their shadows dancing on the cave walls, got to me. I ended up snapping at the worst of them, and then blocking them, and then fuming my entire way home. They’re still wrong, but they got the better of me, and so they won.

Here, then, are my thoughts more cogently collected. I doubt very much that they’ll change anyone’s minds, because if there’s one thing you can’t fight with objective fact, it’s confirmation bias. But I’m a sucker for punishment.

Hobby Lobby pays for 17 other kinds of birth control. What’s the problem?

The problem—well, one problem—is that hormonal birth control can be fatal. And not “can be” in a “you might get struck by lightning while being attacked by a shark in a crashing airplane” kind of way. In a statistically significant way. In a doctors-are-negligent-not-to-tell-you-this way.

This goes double for women like me, who may be genetically predisposed to blood clots/thrombosis even in the absence of hormonal imbalances.

While estrogen-based birth control can be dangerous to any woman, progestogen-based birth control, like Depo-Provera, is considered relatively safe. I say “relatively” because after two years, Depo starts irreversibly wearing down your bone density. I was on it for many years before that particular set of data came in and my gynecologist strongly, strongly advised I get the hell off it ASAP. Which I did.

For me, and for many other women, a non-hormonal IUD is the only feasible option. In the United States, there is only one of these: the ParaGard copper IUD.

IUDs are abortifacients!

Not when they’re working properly.

While an IUD can prevent embryo implantation as a last resort, its primary mechanism is to keep sperm from fertilizing an egg to begin with. How they do this is still an issue of some debate, but it’s thought that—in the case of my ParaGard, at least—the device triggers an inflammatory response that makes uteruses unpleasant places for sperm to be, never mind the physical barrier posed by the IUD itself. Failing some catastrophe, most women with IUDs experience regular periods—meaning the uterus is doing what it always does in the absence of an embryo. Normally. Non-abortively.

I would go one step further and assert that zygotes aren’t people, and that extinguishing one is sad but not criminal and therefore no one’s business, but this is not a useful argument in a discussion with someone who believes zygotes ARE people.

If you don’t want to get pregnant, don’t have sex.

How about those of us who don’t want to get pregnant EVER? What should I do, join a convent? Wear a chastity belt?

They look cold.

What about married couples who want children but not, like, tomorrow?

Also, just going to throw this out there: do you know what’s WAY more expensive than contraception? Childcare.

You’re demanding my church subsidize your sex life.

  1. I don’t believe you actually believe that.
  2. If you DO actually believe that: let’s do a thought experiment.

I’m an atheist. Let’s say that I’m your boss. I know, that’s a horrifying thought for any number of reasons not pertaining to my ecumenical leanings or lack thereof, but bear with me.

I feel that circumcision is an archaic practice that’s medically unnecessary at best and barbaric at worst. It’s a decision made on behalf of children who can have no appreciation of its religious significance, and who may grow into adults of a completely different philosophical bent than yours. It is a terrible, physical, scarring imposition of one’s will upon a helpless being who has no power to object.

If a fully informed adult male decides, for personal and/or medical reasons, that he wants a circumcision: fine. I’m all for it. Bully for him. Nip the tip, old fellow, and god speed.

But to unilaterally mutilate a child’s most personal and delicate asset for life is horrible to me. It stands in direct opposition to my moral code.

As your employer, I could decide that I will no longer subsidize circumcisions performed on any of my employees’ newborn children. Even if, to those employees, circumcision is a routine and even sacrosanct procedure; even if my they can show a wealth of evidence that circumcision may provide some modicum of health benefit; even if circumcision is consistent with their First Amendment rights.

As the owner of a closely held business, I needn’t fund any procedure I deem at odds with my deeply held moral code.

And let’s say, as in the Hobby Lobby case, the Supreme Court backs me up.

My religious employees—that includes you—are now “free” to do one of two things:

  1. Stay in my employ, where they are paid well, and either not circumcise their children or pay obscene fees out of pocket.
  2. Quit and find another job. Which is definitely the option you want when you have a newborn, right?

As I said to one guy today: “Freedom to make the choices I give you” is not freedom.

Do not confuse “my way or the highway” with freedom of choice. It’s an ultimatum. It is the definition of an ultimatum. And I am not at all persuaded by its use in conservative rhetoric (or really any rhetoric, for that matter). 

I’m not demanding your church subsidize my sex life.

I’m not demanding anything.

I’m asserting my right NOT to be discriminated against because I don’t subscribe to the tenets of your church.

I’m resisting your attempts to hold me hostage to your ideology.

I’m denying your authority over my body.

Furthermore, Hobby Lobby doesn’t run a church. They run a business. 

I cannot reconcile the fervor with which conservatives, so vociferously opposed to the intervention of Big Daddy Government in any matters whatsoever, worship at the altar of business. A business is just a government no one votes for (“Oh, but you vote with your dollar,” they sneer, disingenuously, neither seeing nor caring that a society that votes with its dollar will favor those with the most votes to spend).

I don’t get to vote my employer out if I take umbrage to her governance. If I don’t like the way she does things, I can take a walk. Which would give employers free rein to do whatever they damn well pleased if not for laws imposed upon them.

Evangelical conservatives insist employers shouldn’t have to pay for health care they’re morally at odds with, but all of their efforts, all of their energies, are concentrated on dismantling Obamacare, the only other recourse for the jobless, the underpaid, and/or the underinsured.

They don’t want women to have choices. They just want us to make babies or close our legs. They want us to fall in line or GTFO.

Thankfully, we don’t work for them.



  1. wilder125 says:

    I continually have to fight myself in order to avoid joining you in those random conversations that my tweet feed shows me. You do a better job than I would. Any contribution I’d put in would be classed as a frack-up

    • Charlotte A. Cavatica says:

      There’s definitely something to be said for keeping your head above the fray. Don’t do what I did, Luke. Turn away from the Dark Side. It will destroy you.

  2. If you believe that refusing to subsidize something is denying it to someone, there’s no real conversation possible because that belief, even more than the particular expressions of it, are why you’re something that shouldn’t be allowed input into America’s way of life or laws.

    • Charlotte A. Cavatica says:

      I’m pretty sure America’s, like, whole THING is that EVERYONE is “allowed input”?

      Also, I’m approving your comment because, while I find every facet of your worldview—yes, I looked over your blog—misinformed at best and abhorrent at worst, I “allow input” from dissenters.

      Who’s more American now, bitch?

  3. Don Rutledge says:

    This is spot on on so many fronts. Thank you for applying logic and sound
    reasoning to the discussion of such personal and touchy issues.

    You wrote:
    I cannot reconcile the fervor with which conservatives, so vociferously
    opposed to the intervention of Big Daddy Government in any matters
    whatsoever, worship at the altar of business. A business is just a
    government no one votes for (“Oh, but you vote with your dollar,” they
    sneer, disingenuously, neither seeing nor caring that a society that votes
    with its dollar will favor those with the most votes to spend).

    There you encapsulated in a couple of sentences what I have been saying to
    people who will listen (and I believe that total is one, to date) for many

    Thanks again. Keep up the ranting and writing.

  4. scott patnode says:

    I agree with the hobby lobby ruling. I agree that decorative circumcisions should not be funded by insurance. I agree you should get dragged into being disagreeable to each other when you disagree about things. I’m just agreeable today. Thanks for your rant.

    • scott patnode says:

      “shouldn’t get dragged in.. I forgot to proofread. Definately not good on a writing forum.

  5. A most eloquent assessment of this state of affairs. I think you put it more lucidly than any political or legal commentator I’ve read so far. And I completely get your aversion to getting sucked into these arguments. I’ll allow myself to discuss politics/religion/bullshit in real life with actual living people in my physical presence, but doing so online is just setting myself up for being attacked. That gets tiresome after a while. I don’t know at what point simply disagreeing turned into insult-hurling competitions, but I refuse to take part. An absolute pleasure to read your writing, as always.

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