This ginned up media fauxtroversy over the Obama administration’s recent birth control decision has actually become an attack on women’s reproductive health by religious zealots. The chief lawyer for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops made their true agenda clear this week. They don’t just want to get an exemption for the Catholic Church. They want the provision abolished altogether so that even say a local Taco Bell owner could refuse to cover birth control for their female employees.
Meanwhile, conservative GOP opportunists who believe they found a wedge issue to use against our President have eagerly jumped on the bandwagon. Today Republicans took it a step further introducing a bill in the House that would allow any private employer to stop covering birth control at all simply by saying they have a moral objection to contraception. In other words, if some corporation wants to save money on health care costs, their CEO could get any current coverage stripped out of their employee policies. Further this bill could end any Medicaid coverage for birth control. This could effectively force the majority of women in America to pay full out of pocket costs for contraceptive services.
And it’s not just birth control pills that are at stake here. Let’s take a moment to see what the provision includes:
Well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, HPV testing, STD counseling, HIV testing and counseling, breastfeeding support and supplies, contraception, and screening and counseling for domestic violence.
Now the thing is, mandated birth control coverage has been a long standing law since George W. Bush took office. Moreover, many Catholic institutions already offer the benefits, which includes the largest Catholic university in our country. Also, some 28 states have laws that have similarly mandated this coverage for some time and no one was screaming about a war on religious freedom until now.
In the end, this is not about religious liberty at all. Churches are not bound by this mandate and no one is being forced to use birth control against their will. This fauxrage is largely being perpetrated by older men in the media and Catholic bishops who don’t have a health related stake in the outcome. If it’s anything, it’s religious coercion. When they say they don’t want the government involved in their religion, what they really mean is they want the law of the land to only reflect their own religious beliefs. Hard to see that as a defense of freedom. [graphic via]