This hearing represents a failure of responsibility on the part of the majority and the chair. Nonetheless, I will answer the question posed by the committee. And the answer is: No.
We have an obligation as a nation to make accommodations, where appropriate, to avoid undue interference with the practice of religion. But to avoid a massive injustice, we must also consider the interest of women.
Under New York State’s law mandating insurance coverage for contraception, Fordham was able to accept that religiously-affiliated entities that want to sell products in the marketplace like insurance and federally-subsidized education must meet the same quality standards as non-religious organizations. Unfortunately, despite state law, Fordham still fails to guarantee access to affordable contraception.
As I have watched national media coverage of this debate, it has been heartbreaking, frankly, to see women’s health treated as a political football. When I turn off the TV and look around my campus, I instead see the faces of the women affected, and I have heard more and more of their stories. I am here to share their voices and ask that you hear them.
Today on Capitol Hill, the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform assembled a panel to discuss the birth control mandate in President Obama’s Affordable Care Act. The panel consisted of eight male anti-choice, anti-contraception religious leaders and one female anti-choice witness. None had health credentials.
The right wants to allow a boss or a corporation to claim “religious” or “conscience” reasons to roll back equal rights. As a native Alabamian, I am hearing some thundering hooves over some bridges at Selma. Religion and “conscience” and employers’ and property owners’ rights were justifications for discriminating against black people in this country from the founding of the republic until the Civil Rights Act was passed. Now they are coming for you.
Catholics for Choice has been hearing a lot from Catholics who are indeed upset. An excerpt from just one of the letters we’ve received: “I will start paying more attention to the bishops’ position on birth control on the day a Catholic bishop becomes pregnant. Until then I’ll stand with the 97 percent of Catholic women who use or have used birth control.”
For those surprised about the recent fervor over Obama’s contraception coverage decision, a look at its deep roots.
The United States Congress is in the grip of contraceptive hysteria, and there are no signs of early recovery. Far right members of the House and Senate have decided that there is Nothing. More. Important. than making sure women in this country can not get access to birth control.
Republicans denouncing the requirement that female employees have access to birth control as part of their health benefits use “religious freedom” as their focal point, but completely ignore the church teachings they don’t agree with. Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich both wear their faith on their sleeves, but are hypocritical in picking and choosing when they wish to listen to the bishops.