Last week, there was a hearing in Congress entitled “Do New Health Law Mandates Threaten Conscience Rights and Access to Care?” How about an alternative that really addresses what this is all about: “Are religious employers entitled to impose their “values” on their employees?” This hearing focused on the Affordable Care Act and the requirement that all health plans cover contraceptives. The Department of Health and Human Services issued a rule in August that exempted a narrow class of employees from having to comply with the law. Only employers who hire and serve people of the same religion, and have the purpose of instilling religious values qualify for the exemption.
This hearing was all about whether this exemption should actually be expanded to include other religious employers like hospitals and universities. Um…no. Here at the Center, we don’t think any woman — including a woman who is employed by a church, monastery or convent — should be deprived of the benefits of the Women’s Health Amendment. The goal of this law is to improve access to preventive care and remove existing financial barriers that keep women from being able to use an effective form of contraception that works for them. Don’t be misled. This is not merely about who pays for contraception. This is just one step on the general attack against the use of birth control, and women’s right to decide when and whether to have children. Period.
No, I am not paranoid (okay, maybe I am, but still…) Mississippi Ballot Initiative 26, which granted “personhood” to a fertilized egg, presented a full frontal attack on common forms of birth control like the IUD and birth control pills. And while it is incredibly encouraging that the people of Mississippi rejected this draconian measure, we all know that these assaults on birth control will not stop. If the Duggars want to field two full lacrosse teams, fine by me, but enough with the attacks on one of the greatest public health advances of the 20th Century.