Contraception Fight: Religious Freedom or Religious Domination?
I, like many Americans, never thought I’d see the day that we’d be arguing over birth control – I thought this had been settled long ago. Surely, most women have used birth control in their lives, mainly so that they don’t go having a pile of children they can’t take care of and yet still have an enjoyable sex life; this includes even married women so it’s not about promiscuity but about controlling the number of children one wants to have and when they want to have them.
So now we have an issue concerning contraception and if the federal government has the right to guarantee it to all women or; because of the Catholic Church’s beliefs, exempt them from the requirement to provide them in their health care plans for the women who work at their non-religious institutions like hospitals and schools, where they hire non-Catholic employees.
Most of these institutions take federal money and even though they’re secular institutions, the Catholic Church is entirely against even allowing those institutions providing birth control for their employees. I should also point out that 28 states require non-religious institutions to provide preventive health care that covers birth control, including institutions that the Catholic Church owns. For some reason, now that the federal government, through the Affordable Care Act, requiring these same types of institutions to provide contraception for women through their health care plans, it’s suddenly becomes an issue.
I won’t dwell on this issue with the Catholic Church, but rather I’d like to talk about how Republicans – both lawmakers and presidential hopefuls, are using this issue as a wedge issue during this election year. For one thing, it seems since they can’t win on the economic issues that most Americans are concerned about, being that the unemployment numbers are going down and things are looking up, and they can’t win on foreign policy issues because our current president; Barack Obama has had much success in that area, they’ve decided to again throw indignation into the mix concerning social issues, mainly this whole mess with the Catholic Church.
But let’s put together the pieces of the quagmire that they would like to put this nation into concerning both the issue of abortion, which they’ve been preaching about for a long time now and this whole matter with contraception. What kind of situation would they bring on women in particular, let alone many families who’re struggling to just take care of the children they already have? They want to make contraception unavailable to women who work for any institution owned by a religious organization that opposes birth control, unless they can afford it outside of their health care policies, which would put women in the awkward position of becoming pregnant unintentionally. Then they want to stop them from having the right to abort those unintended pregnancies.
Now let’s look at the long-term consequences of such actions if Republicans had their way; there would be a population boom, especially among women who couldn’t afford health care on their own. Then we have the fact that Republicans also want to cut funding for programs that feed hungry children, such as food stamps and school lunch programs. This all sounds like to me, they want to have their cake and eat it too, or in other words – force women to live by their own religious standards but then not do anything to alleviate the hunger and suffering that their religious laws would bring upon our society.
Let’s talk about one particular candidate for president; Rick Santorum who is a Catholic and a strong social conservative who’s against contraception, abortion, single mothers and federal funds that support feeding children of these single mothers. Can’t you just imagine the kind of nation we’d have if Mr. Santorum had it his way? I myself would be getting to wonder if life would be about the same as living under the Taliban’s Sharia law as it would be living under Rick Santorum’s Leviticus law. I maybe be pushing the envelope there a little but the idea still stands; Americans, especially women should not be forced to have their lives turned upside down by someone’s religious beliefs though it be the Taliban’s or Rick Santorum’s and the Republican Party’s religious beliefs.
Republicans are using the term “Religious Freedom” in their defense of wanting to protect Catholic secular institutions from having to furnish birth control for its non-religious employees. What they’re really doing with both the birth control debacle and their efforts to pass laws to restrict a woman’s right to abortion boils down to Religious Domination instead. It’s about forcing their beliefs on the rest of us, though we believe the way they do or not. Real “Religious Freedom” would give Americans who chose not to follow or believe the way the Catholic Church or Republicans believe, to be free from having to live by their religious laws.
There is no law that says a woman must take birth control and there is no law that says a woman must abort her baby. There ought also not to be laws forcing women to have babies if they don’t want them and there certainly shouldn’t be laws that tell men and women that they can’t have sex with each other, in or out of marriage. This is a secular country and most of us want to keep it that way. So Mr. Santorum and Republicans; keep your beliefs to yourself and let us all live the way we choose to live and believe the way we choose to believe.
- The Problems With the Catholic Church and Birth Control (usnews.com)
- Danny Westneat’s column on the Catholic Church – The Seattle Times (seattletimes.nwsource.com)
- Should Catholic and Other Religious Institutions Have to Cover Birth Control? (usnews.com)
- You: Obama vs. Catholics: Walking the contraception tightrope (washingtonpost.com)