Archives: There is no war on women’s health

Originally published in February 2012
Simon Nguyen

COMMENTARY | Liberal Democrats like to frame opposition to the contraception mandate as against women’s rights. The assertion, however, is far from true.

While the Catholic Church opposes contraception, it does not actively campaign for the abolishment of all contraceptives. There is no advocacy for legislation to ban contraceptives and no pending court ruling regarding the legality of contraception. The issue at stake is religious liberty and not women’s health.

The Catholic Church, like any prominent religious institution, has a doctrine that it solemnly abides to. Without these rituals and moral positions, there is no Catholicism. The church’s members can decide whether or not to live by it, but the doctrine itself is unalterable. By requiring Catholic organizations – many of which are self-insured – to pay for or provide contraceptives through their insurance companies, the government is assaulting the church’s identity and religious authority.

Proponents of the controversial policy have argued that the mandate is aimed at agencies affiliated with the church and not the church itself. This is clearly a mischaracterization. While a number of Catholic organizations are independent of the church, they almost always reflect Catholic values. For instance, many religious-affiliated schools and hospitals have moral clauses tied to employment.

If President Obama truly believes contraception is important to women’s health, there are better alternatives than forcing religious institutions to directly or indirectly contradict their doctrines. Since the government loves to bail out Wall Street and creates new bureaucracy, it might well bail out low-income women who want contraceptives.

The administration could conceivably create a federal program that provides contraceptives to low-income Americans at little or no cost. The cost of such a program is likely to be miniscule, compared to the billions of dollars spent on bailing out Wall Street.

However, one suspects the president would shy away from this as the American public has repeatedly rejected attempts to fund similar medical services. A 2009 CNN poll showed 61 percent of Americans opposed federal funding for abortion, even for low-income women.

If the public also opposes federal funding for contraception, there is no war on women’s health.

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