Religious freedom? Who’s zoomin’ who? As I noted in a piece published last night and now confirmed by further comments from representatives of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the far right uterine police are aiming to exclude everyone from contraceptive coverage, not just religious institutions.
This week, on MSNBC’s Morning Joe, Obama campaign senior advisor David Axelrod signaled that the White House, having finally decided to include coverage of birth control as part of primary health care benefits under health reform after studying it for well over a year, is now “willing to compromise.” Many of my colleagues disagree with my take on the situation, but I am worried that in the end the White House may not hold firm.
The arrogance of the 350 Bishops of the US Catholic Church is mind-boggling. Though they are facing bankruptcy in many states because of the shameful tradition of priests molesting children, they still have the nerve to claim a right to make moral decisions for women. It is time for the women of America to say no to the bullying of a tiny group of men who will never know what it means to make tough choices about pregnancy; or have a baby; or raise a child; or scramble to care for a family.
It seems that no reproductive justice victory can stand free of assault by the anti-choice set. On Monday, January 30, Sen. Marco Rubio (R-Fla) introduced legislation that would overturn the Department of Health and Human Services mandate requiring religiously-affiliated organizations to provide free birth control with their employee health plan packages.
Although Georgetown’s student health insurance doesn’t cover contraception, it does cover birth control pills when they’re prescribed for medical reasons other than preventing pregnancy. But barriers to access illustrate the consequences for women’s health when university administrators dictate which reasons for a birth control prescription are the “right” reasons.
The Obama Administration has made a final decision on contraceptive coverage under health reform, ensuring that virtually all women with health insurance will now have access to the full range of preventive services originally recommended by the Institute of Medicine (IOM), including all FDA-approved forms of contraception.
When she was Governor of Kansas, Kathleen Sebelius was a backstop for the pro-choice community on many anti-choice bills. However, she was also known to play a little politics with women’s health. Let’s hope that she doesn’t choose this issue to toss to the rabid dog Bishops as some kind of “pro-life” contraceptive Scooby Snack.
Jed Lewison, writing at Daily Kos, nails it when he underscores what’s wrong with the reasons the White House is now giving as it considers caving to the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops on coverage of birth control. The President and the White House staff, it seems, just do not get it.
So, what have we got in this latest reproductive rights crisis? The one where the Catholic bishops and the President are debating and deciding what rights we American women will have? Well, sadly, ad nauseum, and once again, what we’ve got is no woman sitting at the decision-making table.
Fordham University prohibits the prescription of contraception at its health centers and the distribution of condoms on campus though many students aren’t aware of that until they’ve paid for the school’s insurance or visited the health center. Many are denied birth control even when facing health risks. This week, law students at the Catholic school are taking matters into their own hands by organizing a clinic just off-campus.