Contraception-compromise opponents ignore women

Using contraception is a choice that women should be free to make, regardless of their economic status. The Obama administration’s provision in the healthcare overhaul took steps towards making this possible through health insurance plans which cover contraception for free in their policies, according to the New York Times.

Under the original plan, employers, including Catholic hospitals and schools, would have been required to provide insurance coverage for contraception to employees — with no copay.

Catholic groups and leaders protested against using their funds to support contraception, which is against their religious beliefs, so the administration offered a compromise: if the employer has faith-based moral objections, the cost of contraception is shifted to the insurance provider.

Seems perfectly reasonable to me.

Still, Catholic bishops and Republicans maintain that the provision is infringing upon freedom of religion. However, many progressive Catholics think that the revisions are satisfactory, causing a division in the forces against the contraception provision.

“The announcement on Friday creates mechanisms to create even greater distance between Catholic institutions and contraception,” said Director of Catholic University of America’s Institute for Policy Research and Catholic Studies Stephen Schneck to The Huffington Post. “I feel completely satisfied.”

However, according to The Huffington Post, Catholic University’s President does not agree with Schneck’s acceptance. Many Catholic leaders are still opposed to the policy, apparently because of faith-based morals.

I say Catholic women are still free to use or not use contraception according to their own beliefs. That is freedom of religion. Allowing religious leaders to dictate the options available to all women is not “religious freedom.” It is giving the church the powers of the state.

Religious organizations should not be able to change laws to reflect their tenets. It is understandable for Catholic schools and hospitals to oppose funding birth control, but not for them to limit the health options available to the women working for them.

According to Reuters, the 2006-2008 National Survey of Family Growth showed that 98% of Catholic women in the United States do use some form of contraception.

These women should be free to choose, regardless of their religion’s doctrines. Their sexual health should be their own decision, not one limited by religious influence on their health plan.

If women are free to obtain birth control under the policy of their Catholic employer, it does not infringe on that same employer’s rights to decide whether to use contraception methods herself or himself.

And with the recent changes to the provision, it certainly should not affect the lives of the male Catholic leaders and Republicans who oppose easier access to birth control.

Still, the panel chosen for the House Oversight and Government Reform committee to discuss the birth control provision was all male and the Democrats’ one witness, Sandra Fluke, was rejected by Chairman Representative Darrell Issa, according to The Nation.

Even if you don’t think women should be the only ones making decisions about health care directly influencing women, should they have to scream to be heard?

The fight to provide all women with access to family planning materials and all people with sexual health services will continue. The latest controversy is just one battle. Though it seems likely to be won, there will still be women who do not have access to family planning in the U.S.

Organizations like Planned Parenthood provide sexual health services, often for free or at a reduced cost, according to the Planned Parenthood website, but the organization has been under fire from Congress and other groups throughout its history.

The Obama administration’s provision is a step in the right direction, but the struggle will continue and we must all make our voices heard.

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