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SCOTUS Gives Hobby Lobby & Other Employers Right to Kill Me

Back some time in the early 2000s, I was diagnosed with a condition called polycystic ovarian syndrome (PCOS). It's a pretty common ailment these days, unfortunately. In my case, both my ovaries are covered with little cysts. These bastards secret their own androgens that fuck with the rest of me. For example, I have a chin full of lovely whiskers, have to watch my weight like a sentry at a max security prison, and am prone to depression. The bigger problem is that people with PCOS have increased risks of various types of cancer. According to the National Institute for Health, "The risk of cancer of the endometrium... the inside lining of the uterus, is three times as high for women with PCOS as it is for other women... Women with PCOS also may be at higher risk for breast cancer and ovarian cancer. Small studies have suggested that a lack of ovulation (anovulation), as occurs with PCOS, is linked with a risk of breast cancer that is three to four times that of women without anovulation. In other research, results showed more than a doubling of the risk of ovarian cancer in women with PCOS, but scientists have not confirmed these links in large population studies."

One of the reasons, as cited above, for these risks is a lack of ovulation and menstruation, which was a problem I have because of the cysts and their damn androgens. Fortunately, birth control is available to resolve that. When I was on the Pill, I got my period more regularly than when I was not. My risk of cancer decreased dramatically. Yay!

However, studies also show that it's not really great to be on the Pill indefinitely. When I turned 35, I'd been on the Pill to combat my PCOS for over 10 years. My doctor suggested that I consider switching to an IUD. I wasn't crazy about the idea (*cough*Dalkon Shield*cough*), but eventually it made sense. After a farcical failed attempt to have one inserted in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy (let's just say my cervix does not like shit being pushed through it, and I thought I might understand what an abortion done with knitting needles might feel like), I finally got one in June 2013. My insurance covered it. And it's been great.

The problem is that certain employers, thanks to the Supreme Court, are now considered people with religious beliefs. It seems that these non-human people were upset that they may have to allow their employees to have certain kinds of birth control on their company insurance that offended the company's religion. The Supreme Court today decided that my potentially life-saving contraceptive device violated the non-human person's First Amendment rights. Therefore, in four years when I need a new IUD, I better not work for a non-human company with religious beliefs that conflict with my medical needs, or I could be denied an IUD with insurance.

So people have gone pretty crazy about this, insisting that I can just "skip a few cups of Starbucks and buy contraceptives for $20 from Wal-Mart." (This is an actual quote.) Who cares that the decision is so narrow that Jehovah's Witness non-human people are still forced to cover blood transfusions against their religious beliefs? I'm just being a whiny, feminist bitch who doesn't want to get cancer. (How demanding!) Any woman can just wander into 7-11, according to that loving defender of priests who molest children, Cardinal Dolan, and get one. (Yes, he seriously said that.) Who cares that an IUD is actually a few hundred dollars and then the cost of the insertion?

An IUD can save my life. It's nice that my potential future employer might be forced to cover it if I sit down with them and explain to them why I need it. Just like men are forced to do when they want vasectomies. Wait - they aren't? Oh rats. I'm just being a demanding, whiny bitch again. It's so wrong of me to be upset that these companies that claim their religions value life so much that I can't have a contraceptive that will possibly save my life unless I beg and plead!

The best part is that when I mentioned this on twitter, the delightful NY Post columnist Jon Podhoretz responded, "aaaand scene."

Yep. It sure could be.

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Ding Dong

For more than ten years, I've lived in an apartment that is essentially in the lobby of the building. Generally, I don't think twice about it. Sometimes it can be loud when people let their kids scream at the top of their lungs as though they are already at the playground, or if there is an unavoidable temper tantrum (by an adult or child). Rarely, I get the stink eye from another tenant passing through the lobby as I enter or exit my apartment, but this is New York. People live where they live. Certainly there are stranger places than an apartment that has an entrance in the lobby. (Hell, I lived for three years in a 200 square foot maid's quarters with no stove or oven that was accessed through a stairwell...) So when the doorbell rang around 5:30 this evening, I thought nothing of it. Perhaps a friend stopped by to say hello, or Husband had some dry cleaning delivered. I opened the door.

Three blond girls, ages 9-12 or so, stood gaping at me. Their caregiver's eyes opened wide. "Yes?" I said. Normally I'd say hello, but I am also not normally stared at as thought I beamed in from Mars.

"Oh, you live here?" the woman said. Her voice rang with shock, as if it was inconceivable that someone would deign to live in a unit off the lobby.

"Uh, yeah. I do live here," I said. I have to admit my tone was not friendly. "Is there something I can do for you?"

"Oh, we didn't know someone lived here, and we were looking for help because we are locked out of the apartment -"

"And there's a DEAD COCKROACH in the basement," one of the girls yelled.

Then I realized that they thought they were going to the super's apartment. That only a super would live in such quarters, and further, that it was totally acceptable to show up at his home and tell him that they were locked out and that there's a dead roach in the basement, as if he is their personal servant. The fact that a "regular" person instead opened the door blew their minds. I was furious.

"Well, if you want help and the doorman isn't here, you can check with the doorman on the other side. He can call the super for you," I said. I was really nasty about it.

"Oh, right, right," the woman said. It had clearly not occurred to them that there are appropriate channels to go through.

"Good luck," I said, and shut the door.

A few seconds later, I heard the doorman come in. "THERE'S A DEAD ROACH IN THE BASEMENT," I heard the girl scream at him.

These are the times that I hate where I live.

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New York Road Runners

A few weeks ago, when everything in NYC was normal, I became a member of the New York Road Runners. In the past year, I'd run five NYRR races: the 2011 Ted Corbitt 15K, the 2012 NYC Half Marathon, a 5K race, and a 10K race, and the Staten Island Half Marathon. When I decided to register for the 2012 Ted Corbitt 15K, I decided to become a member so that I could get a discount. Membership was only $45, and I think I saved $20 on the Staten Island race, so I figured that it would pay off because I'd do a few more races. I was wrong.

The New York Road Runners is the nonprofit organization that hosts the NYC Marathon. As my previous two posts indicate, they grossly mishandled the situation. The very same parts I raced through in early October for the Staten Island Half (a great race, by the way) were the starting point for the Marathon, which was to take place Sunday. Those areas are completely destroyed. I noted all of the problems already, so I won't harp on it. But it was clear for many, many reasons that the NYRR should have canceled Sunday's race.

They finally did.

They canceled it, though, only after a huge public outcry. After money, time, and labor were invested in setting up for the race. After thousands of runners arrived in NYC. They didn't cancel the race until the public relations were so bad that they really had no choice. It was a tainted race, and they knew it. Even that jackass Bloomberg said that it was canceled because they didn't want people running under a cloud.

This organization put a lot of people at risk because of money. They should have canceled immediately, while the airports were still closed. However, something like 80% of their budget is derived from the Marathon. Do they not have disaster insurance in place? If not, that is insanely irresponsible. No organization should put so many eggs in one basket - especially one so dependent on decent weather conditions - without insurance. They also demonstrated extreme arrogance in the face of enormous suffering. Every single action they took screwed people - whether it was locals who didn't get resources they needed because we were prepping for a marathon or the runners who trekked out here and now can't get refunds for their travel.

They can take some action to save their reputation. They can donate the 60,000+ gallons of water they saved for the race to New Yorkers who have not had water for days. They can donate the energy gels and bananas to pantries and soup kitchens. They can still hold the pre-race pasta dinner, but do so in a community that was destroyed by the storm. They spit in the face of Staten Islanders, so that might be a good place, although it would really be great anywhere.

So what will they do next? I'm wearily watching. Their actions will dictate mine. If they don't do what is right - even at this belated stage - I will never, ever sign up for an NYRR race. That will suck, since they sponsor most of the NYC races and I usually enjoy them enormously. If I can cancel my membership and get a refund, I will do so. I do not want to be affiliated with an organization that cares so little about its community.

The NYRR website states that, "Running takes your body, mind, and spirit to a better place. The simple act of putting one foot in front of the other and moving forward can make you healthier, happier, and more confident." I love that. But NYRR has to live up to it, and it failed us as of now. Let's see if they can make it right.

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