Post (U.S.) , March 18, 2014
Haffner revisits birth control
I came of
age at a time when birth control was easily accessible and safe,
legal abortion had just become available. In my first job in 1976,
I helped college students advocate for the delivery of free birth
control on their campuses. I could not have imagined then that
almost four decades later, I'd once again need to be working on
access to birth control methods.
Yet, in 2014,
there are those who are trying to make birth control availability
controversial and even deny it as part of basic health care. Next
Tuesday, the U.S. Supreme Court will be hearing two cases where
company owners who don't support contraception personally are
denying their employees insurance coverage for birth control as
mandated by the Affordable Care Act. The lawyers for these corporations
go so far as to call birth control use sinful and immoral. The
owners are claiming that including contraceptives in their employee's
health insurance coverage violates their companies' religious
faith know differently. How could it be a sin to use birth control?
Rather, the sin is denying women the right and the means to plan
their families. Indeed, it is precisely because life is sacred
that people of faith support the intentional and moral use of
contraception. We also know that religious freedom means that
each person must have the right to exercise their own religious
beliefs; religious freedom cannot mean that an individual or a
corporation gets to impose their religious beliefs on others.
the Religious Institute released a statement signed by 45 nationally
recognized religious leaders supporting universal access to contraception,
and affirming that equal access to contraceptives through insurance
coverage is a moral good. Together, these Christian, Jewish, Unitarian
Universalist and Muslim leaders affirm:
leaders, we support universal access to contraception. We believe
that all persons should be free to make personal decisions about
their reproductive lives, their health and the health of their
families that are informed by their culture, faith tradition,
religious beliefs, conscience, and community. We affirm, in
accordance with each of our faith traditions, that ensuring
equal access to contraceptives through insurance coverage is
a moral good. Including contraceptives as a covered service
does not require anyone to use it; excluding contraceptive coverage
for those who choose to plan and space their families with modern
methods of birth control will effectively translate into coercive
childbearing for many.
social justice. We recognize the dignity and worth of each and
every member of our communities -- including those uniquely
vulnerable to the effects of unequal access to healthcare due
to race, class, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, disability
religious freedom. Religious freedom means that each individual
has the right to exercise their own beliefs and the right not
to have others' beliefs forced upon them. We believe no employer
has the right to deny the women who work for them basic health
care. Individuals must have the right to accept or reject the
principles of their own faith without legal restrictions.
religious voice can speak for all faith traditions on contraception,
nor should government take sides on religious differences. We
call on our government to respect the beliefs and values of
everyone's faith by safeguarding equal access to contraception
for those whose conscience leads them to use it."
The full text
of the statement and the names of the 45 national religious leaders
who endorsed it can be found at here.
more than 3,200 people of faith have recently signed a petition
supporting the birth control requirement in the Affordable Care
Act. Hundreds of people of faith are expected to attend a pro-birth
control faith rally before the Supreme Court hearings next week
where participants will process to the court with a banner bearing
the names of all those who have signed the petition and the statement.
It is a myth
that people of faith don't support family planning. Most Jewish
movement and Protestant denominations have had policies supporting
family planning for decades, and more than nine in 10 U.S. women
of almost every faith have used a modern method of birth control.
The theological diversity of those who endorsed today's statement
is further evidence of widespread faith support for birth control
coverage in health insurance.
I hope you
will join us in praying for the Supreme Court Justices to assure
religious liberty for all -- and that you will also hold the millions
of women who want and need birth control in their health insurance
coverage in your hearts.
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