Viewpoints: Should the government require employers to provide contraception coverage to their employees?

Wilmington Faith and Values

Each day this week has been marked by some new angle about a mandate in the national healthcare law that would require all employers to provide health insurance that would cover contraception. That would include religious groups who oppose contraception.

Raleigh Catholic diocese Bishop Michael Burbidge issued a statement about the requirement recently, calling it “a violation of rights.”

In Politico, on Religion News Service and in every major newspaper, political groups, Catholic groups and many others are hotly debating this law.

Here’s our take on why.

“This threat by the Catholic Church is a bluff.”

Victoria Rouch

Victoria Rouch: “I normally don’t listen to right wing talk radio, but sometimes I do when there’s some big controversy roiling. Yesterday, I took a deep breath and tuned it to Sean Hannity, whose every other comment included the phrase “war on religion.” Apparently, he thinks the Obama administration‘s refusal to exempt church-run schools, universities and hospitals from a mandate requiring them to offer birth control coverage in employee health plans is another volley in this “war.”

That is a curiously paranoid take on all of this. And a curiously ironic one, given that 58 percent of Catholics believe employee health plans should provide birth control. And a whopping 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women admit to using birth control, according to a 2011 Guttmacher Institute study cited by White House officials.

The church not only seems out of step with modern medical advances, which allow families to plan and prepare for children. But it also seems out of touch with its own members who overwhelmingly disobey church teachings forbidding use of such measures. It seems ridiculous to refuse to provide a health care option that has been used not only by a majority of practicing Catholics but also by employees who do not share their faith.

War on religion? It seems to me that religion has declared a war on everyone else, especially when an institution like the Catholic Church threatens to stop providing health insurance should the administration not capitulate to their demands.

I personally think this threat by the Catholic Church is a bluff. If the church is going to drop healthcare coverage for thousands of workers in this economy, the backlash is going to be enormous. They may argue that they are doing this on moral grounds because the church doesn’t want to pay for something it morally opposes.

As long as Catholic leaders are going to rely on a labor market comprised of those who do not share their views – or their faith – they have no right to push their religious beliefs on their employees. They should offer the option and count themselves fortunate to remain tax-exempt so long as they continue to send surrogates out to engage in partisan politics as they are clearly doing on this issue.”

“More disclosure was needed before bill was passed.”

Clay Ritter

Clay Ritter: “To me there are two ethical problems here, and the current problem is a result of the first problem. Issue number one is that the American people were kept in the dark that this was part of the ObamaCare bill.

To quote one representative, “We have to pass it to see what’s in it.” I would assert that it was unethical for legislation to be passed without the proper discussion, debate and disclosure to the American people. The groups this mandate affects would have opposed the legislation or, at least, requested changes to it. (I would call this an unintended consequence, but I believe that the mandate was very intentional.)

One result of the first ethical violation is where certain organizations that are morally and spiritually opposed to birth control now find themselves mandated to pay for it, whether its employees want it or not.

We live in a supposed free society, where private organizations should be free to operate according to their charter and according to their own set of moral principles. As long as they do not violate the law or infringe on the constitutional rights of others, they should be free to offer, or not offer, whatever benefits they choose to their employees.

If the employees are not happy with those benefits, they can choose to seek employment elsewhere.”

What do you think?

One response to “Viewpoints: Should the government require employers to provide contraception coverage to their employees?

  1. Fortunately for those who are “morally and religiously” opposed to providing birth control, Obama has offered a compromise so that religious institutions will NOT, in fact, have to pay for birth control. He said when such religious institutions do not want to pay, it will be up to insurance companies to step up and provide contraceptive services. This is an important step forward, considering 1 in 3 women still have difficulties accessing and affording birth control.
    Unfortunately, this is not enough for the religious men in power who seem to think they have a right to mandate a woman’s reproductive health. NO ONE is forcing ANYONE to take birth control. And I personally find the Catholic Church’s moral objections laughable considering their tainted history regarding morality and corruption, as well as their tendency to twist Biblical ideas for their own advantage.
    When it comes down to it, birth control is an issue of empowerment. Birth control was not even legal until 1965, and then only to married women. The legalization of birth control, particularly to unmarried women, was a HUGE step forward in our fight for equality. Before, we were essentially slaves to our reproductive system. This affected our ability to get jobs and live our lives as equals to men. The fact that there are still people (mostly men and religious leaders) who are fighting to LIMIT our access to contraceptives is appalling, and quite frankly an embarrassment to our country.
    I also think it is important to note that in today’s panel discussing birth control, NOT ONE woman is present. In the discussion of policy that will solely affect women, this is insane. When confronted about this, these men literally said that our opinion was unimportant. Religious beliefs aside, if that is not discrimination and sexism, I don’t know what is.
    This issue is not about birth control. If it was, the compromise Obama suggested would have solved the problem. This is about power and control.

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