The White House has been defending itself from religious groups who consider Obama’s new birth control provisions a threat to religious liberty.
Currently, only houses of worship are exempt from providing contraception as part of insured prescription plans, and this has been the case since 2000. Obama’s new plan, introduced last month, sought to mandate that all employers, in spite of religious affiliation, must fully cover birth control as part of their health plans. The Catholic Church called this decision an “attack” on its values, arguing that even the process of referring employees to contraceptive services is a violation of its beliefs. Today, the White House issued a compromise ensuring that women will continue to have access to the much-needed preventative care.
From The White House:
Under the new policy to be announced today, women will have free preventive care that includes contraceptive services no matter where she works. The policy also ensures that if a woman works for religious employers with objections to providing contraceptive services as part of its health plan, the religious employer will not be required to provide contraception coverage, but her insurance company will be required to offer contraceptive care free of charge.
The new policy ensures women can get contraception without paying a co-pay and addresses important concerns raised by religious groups by ensuring that objecting religious employers will not have to provide contraceptive coverage or refer women to organizations that provide contraception.
Although studies show that 99% of women and 98% of Catholic women who have ever been sexually active have used some form of birth control, pundits say that the Catholic Church is likely to continue its objection to the new policy. The religious group argues that conscientious objection should not only be the right of faith-driven organizations such as itself, but should also be the right of any employer that chooses not to support a woman’s right to contraception. However, these arguments are incompatible with the reality that preventative care such as birth control is always less expensive than the insured alternatives of sterilization and unintended pregnancies.
For now, any ultimate conscientious objection to birth control rests where it should: with the individual.