If you’ve been listening to the pundits, you might think Catholics are unhappy with President Obama’s decision to require insurance companies to cover contraception. But a couple of polls released yesterday showed that just isn’t true!
Well over half of voters, including a majority of Catholic voters, support the decision to require insurance plans to cover contraceptives. And support is even stronger among Catholics who don’t identify with a political party. They agree that all women should have access to contraception, have it without a co-pay, and have it no matter where they work.
This is no surprise because we've known for a long time that the vast majority of Catholics quietly ignore Church teachings on this subject. Catholic women use contraception at rates almost identical to the general population -- 98 percent of Catholic women who have had sex with a man have used a contraceptive method.
The truth is that the law already strikes a balance between women’s health needs and religious interests. Churches and houses of worship that hold religious beliefs against contraception are already exempt. This is about whether people who work at Catholic hospitals (more than 550,000 full-time employees and 250,000 part-time workers) and universities will have access to basic preventive health care. The policy is based on the widely shared belief that your health care benefits should not depend on what your boss believes.
Now Congress is getting in the act. Right-wing politicians who want to dismantle health care reform are attacking the decision to cover contraception. Under the guise of defending religious freedom, conservatives in Congress are trying to repeal this important preventive health guarantee. We shouldn't be surprised, but just two years ago when Congress enacted the health reform law, it demonstrated much greater wisdom. At that time, Congress said that medical and health experts should decide which women’s preventive health services should be covered by insurance plans. And when the medical experts considered the question, they concluded that contraception is an integral part of the basic preventive care women need to stay healthy.
Make sure your Senators and Representatives know that you think insurance should cover a woman's basic preventive health care needs, including contraception, no matter where that woman works. Send them a message today!
So let's recap:
- Medical experts say contraception is preventive health care;
- The law says insurers must cover preventive health care at no additional cost to consumers;
- The President says he will require insurers to follow the law with respect to contraception;
- The President provided a religious employer exemption for churches that is consistent with state laws that have been tested and held up in courts;
- Right-wing politicians are hiding behind religious arguments to advance the conservative political attack on the health reform law.