I watched two nuns and several older men laughing and congratulating themselves on the morning news. Sipping coffee hurriedly to get out the door, I was curious as to why congratulations were in order. Turning up the sound, I was astounded enough by what I heard to put down my cup.
The unbelievable reason for the smiles and congrats was for a revision of a mandate in the Affordable Care Act. That revision would permit companies, universities, and employers to claim exemption, on “moral or religious” grounds, the right to exclude contraception as part of any health care plan they offer. In other words, they were happy that women were being denied the right for access to birth control!
The wording of the revision is plain—
“These interim final rules will result in some enrollees in plans of exempt entities not receiving coverage or payments for contraceptive services.”
Once these words, and the 34,000 word explanation, are entered in the Federal Register, and published, it will open a path for employers and insurers to claim exemptions from the mandate put in place under the Affordable Care Act, by claiming a moral or religious objection. This includes publicly-traded companies, (think Wall Street and the Stock Market), and private corporations as well as any for-profit corporation. In other words, the government under the Trump administration is, in essence, allowing public and private entities to deny birth control benefits to thousands of women. Notice women is in italics because that is the group, the gender, which will be most adversely affected. Men will not be affected since condoms are easily and readily available everywhere. It seems that if a man wants to use birth control, no one will prevent him.
On the evening news, one man from a religious organization, recited a laundry list of why he was against the use of contraception. “Contraception is a form of abortion and contraception separates sex from reproduction, which, in itself, is against God’s laws. Sex without the bond of matrimony is a sin. No moral woman would use contraception as it is known that it increases the likelihood of sinful intercourse outside of marriage.”
The problem here is that religions are forcing their own beliefs, and making decisions for others, who do not believe, and would not adhere to, those beliefs. I find it disturbing that the ones who will never get pregnant, the nuns and men, are the ones who want to control others who might.
With all due respect, sisters and gentlemen, please mind your business and stop concerning yourself with my body. It is mine, not yours. Not every woman wants to have a baby, not every woman is meant to be a mother. Also, should women choose to have a baby, we reserve the right to limit our family size according to what is right for us. After having twins, my husband and I made the choice that two beautiful babies to feed, clothe, and educate properly was it for us. We chose well and we were fortunate to be able to have the choice for contraception to back up that choice.
Women were not born simply to be controlled because of our gender. Sex is healthy and normal for both men and women, not sinful. As Cicero said, “My morals may not be yours, but they are just as viable.” Keep religion and your own moral beliefs out of the public sector and out of our lives.
According to the ACLU, “religious rights” have always played political ball with Washington.
Instances of institutions and individuals claiming a right to discriminate in the name of religion aren’t new. In the 1960s, we saw institutions object to laws requiring integration in restaurants because of sincerely held beliefs that God wanted the races to be separate. It is no different today. Across the country, we are seeing hospitals, insurance companies, pharmacies, and other health care entities discriminate against women by denying basic care – like birth control, emergency contraception, and abortion – in the name of religion. Many of these institutions receive taxpayer funding. Taxpayer funding. Now that is interesting. I do like to know where my taxes are going.
Birth control should be a fundamental right for both genders. The ACLU filed a lawsuit this past Friday against this form of discrimination.
A statement from Cecile Richards, president of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America is important to note. “Birth control is not controversial-it's health care the vast majority of women will use in the course of their lifetime. Nine out of ten women of reproductive age will use birth control in their lifetime. This administration is carrying out a full-scale attack on birth control. We cannot allow President Trump to roll back the progress women have made over the past century.”
What is the problem with a woman using birth control? It takes nothing away from either gender to have a woman be in control of her own body. Why should religion come into this discussion?
We cannot have strength of purpose, and a country that is dedicated to upholding freedom, when one gender is being denied the basic freedom that is available to the other one.
In 1947, the United States Supreme Court created the doctrine of the modern Separation of Church and State. It prohibits “any federal, state or local government preference or support for religion.”
Religion has no place in politics and it certainly has no place in the decision of contraception.
Kristen Houghton is the author of nine novels, two non-fiction books, a collection of short stories appearing in anthologies, and a children’s novella. A former political contributor, she now writes breaking news articles as well as book reviews and author interviews for The Huffington Post.