Religious schools, hospitals should pay for employees' birth control, says advocacy group

Categories: News, Politics

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A local Latina advocacy group is asking women to call President Obama and give him an earful about birth control. The details are complicated: As explained in this Washington Post story, Catholic bishops are pressuring Obama to dilute a proposed rule that would allow women access to birth control without paying out-of-pocket.

The rule, which was proposed by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in August but has not yet gone into effect, requires all new insurance plans to cover birth control without co-pays. A narrow exemption allows religious nonprofits to opt out. But Catholic bishops and others argue that the exemption is so narrow that only churches (and thus, their employees) would qualify for it.

According to news sources, the bishops are lobbying Obama to expand the exemption to cover other religious employers too, such as schools, hospitals and social services agencies -- and the Post suggests it may be working.

That's exactly what the Colorado Organization for Latina Opportunity and Reproductive Rights, an advocacy group based in Denver, doesn't want to happen. "We'd prefer not to have any exemptions," says Ryann Dubiel, COLOR's communications coordinator.

However, she says, if there has to be an exemption, COLOR would rather it be as narrow as possible. "We want to ensure that Latinas in our community have the full range of birth control options available to them regardless of who they work for," Dubiel says.

COLOR is encouraging women to call Obama (his digits are 202-456-1111; "The line may be busy," COLOR warns, "but please keep trying!") and implore him not to cave to the Catholic powers-that-be. Though the issue is national, Dubiel says, "it becomes local... We want to make sure we know what's going on and our community has a say in it."

More from our Politics archives: "Personhood Amendment reboot Q&A with Kristi Burton Brown, face of original 2008 campaign."

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6 comments
Robert Chase
Robert Chase

This is another argument we should not be having.

Religious organizations should be free to preach whatever pernicious cant about human reproduction and society they want.  We should provide for the public health, and for the health of each member of our society.  If we take responsibility for the public health, religious organizations will not be in a position to impede access to contraception or abortion.

Implement a single-payer health care system now so that America will stop having to pay twice as much for the same level of care!  That is the important issue at hand, and dealing with it appropriately would make this silly squabble with Catholic bishops moot.

Eric
Eric

This is one of those instances where you and I agree.

Eric
Eric

Truthfully, the catholic church lacks the credibility to pressure anyone or any entity into doing or not doing any thing at any time, under any circumstances, for any reason.

You get about a headline a week that reminds us how out of control that organization is.

Add to that the lack of common sense involved in attempting to curtail availabiltiy to family planning tools, and you have an out of control horror show.

I find any religious fanatic, no matter the flavor, either intellectually lazy, bereft of critical thinking ability, or just flat out profit motivated.............period. Facts, data, science, and seeing the forest through the trees will trump religious lunacy and fairy tales every time.

But the catholics take this to the absurd.

The IRS should have pulled the catholic chuch's non profit status the finger snap they started stumping for or against political candidates, issues and/or legislation.

Enough's enough.  

Robert Chase
Robert Chase

Churches should not be exempt from property taxes -- Denver is full of significant properties owned by moribund (or at least much reduced) religious organizations which should be paying their fair share but were struck off the tax rolls almost a century ago.

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