Contraceptives have become a hot topic in the last month. Catholic bishops attacked President Obama's requirement that religious-affiliated organizations offer birth-control coverage in their health plans, and the Republican presidential candidates piled on. The critics claim that Obama is attacking "religious liberty," but the letters I've received on the issue don't see it that way. Significantly, the letters have all been from women.
Dear Tell All: I have no trouble with President Obama's approach to covering contraceptives. Churches themselves are exempted, for God's sake. The affected employers would be religious-affiliated hospitals, universities, etc., which often receive government money and employ people from outside the faith. The way I see it, churches have a constitutional right to preach against birth control, but they can't deprive their employees of the right to think that this preaching is out of date (or, to be less generous, completely insane).
This isn't really about religious freedom, of course. It's about religious organizations wanting to exempt themselves from secular law.
After the outcry, Obama went out of his way to compromise, shifting responsibility for coverage from the religious organizations to insurers. Who could object to something so reasonable?
That's right: the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops. After the church's outrageous sexual abuse and cover-up scandal, do the bishops really expect women to defer to their supposed moral authority on matters of our own health?
Dear Tell All: Religious liberty my ass. The contraception brouhaha is about nothing more than men wanting to control women's bodies, just like they always have. Women, I urge you to fight anyone in a tie or a priest's robe who seeks to restrict your access to birth control.
That would include the Republicans who, incredibly, want to let even secular employers with a "religious objection" off the hook for providing contraceptive coverage. And it would include presidential candidate Rick Santorum, who thinks it's immoral for any insurance policy to cover birth control.
Welcome to the 12th century, America!