Cardinal Timothy Dolan, in a March 16th Milwaukee Journal Sentinel opinion column, correctly characterizes the contraceptive insurance coverage debate. He says: “This is first and foremost a matter of religious liberty for all.” But fact is that when it comes to religious freedom, he’s against it.
The fight against birth control coverage smacks of theocratic thinking – the notion that government ought to be ruled by or subject to religious authority. Clearly we need a much more inclusive conversation about religion and reproduction.
Women of color experience much higher unintended pregnancy rates than their white counterparts. As a group they also suffer higher rates of chronic diseases, including pregnancy-related conditions, which can be prevented with consistent use of contraceptives. The new regulation guaranteeing access to contraception without a co-pay will help greatly with these and other health issues.
Conservatives are now claiming religious liberty gives them the right to dock their employee’s compensation package for having differing beliefs about contraception. Four reasons why that argument won’t fly.
As a physician, I am so thankful that I have birth control as a way to help my patients. But like my colleagues across the nation, I am tired of insurance plans getting in the way of women’s health.
We hold as a denomination the belief that health care is a basic right and part of that includes ensuring access for women to contraception. This is about the common good.
There are many more perspectives Congress needs to hear from on the important topic of contraceptive access…especially when it comes to contraceptive access for women who use birth control to prevent unintended pregnancy. Here is a quick list of folks I’d love to see testifying, as well as a little background to show why their voices are so important.
What I want to know is, where are the women? I look at this panel, and I don’t see one single individual representing the tens of millions of women across the country who want and need insurance coverage for basic preventive health care services, including family planning.
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.