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.
In his testimony at the February 16th House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing on the contraceptive coverage mandate under health reform, the Most Reverend William E. Lori, the Bishop of Bridgeport and spokesperson for the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, defended the claim of “religious freedom” by comparing essential primary health care for women to kosher deli being forced to serve pork. I’ll call it the “ham sandwich defense.” His opening salvo revealed just how shallow the case against insurance coverage for contraception is.
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.
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.