This week, among other over-the-top comments, Justice Antonin Scalia expressed his belief that women do not have a right to birth control. His arrogance and lack of regard for the rights of women should be causing every single woman in this country to loudly protest, but of course, a fair number of conservative women will continue to grovel and let their male leaders dictate their destinies. Given that a court in Colorado ruled against the birth control mandate recently, there is a reasonable chance this issue could end up before our highly conservative Supreme Court.
What of the notion that sects who oppose birth control would be forced to pay for it (especially under the Obama compromise), thus violating the clause of Congress not prohibiting the free exercise of religion? For this, we need to break down whether there is actually any additional expense to religious employers for this coverage. Under the ACA, the rampant discrimination against women that allowed insurers to charge them more than men is eliminated. Employers would actually not be charged any more to cover women’s birth control than they would be if they were not covering it. The ACA will be requiring health insurers who are providing coverage to include this in the package. It isn’t an additional expense to the insured. To remove the birth control from the array of covered services then becomes an affirmative move by these religious organizations. They are actively taking something away from employees that they would otherwise have a right to. They are inserting themselves into the employee’s sanctioned benefits.
Employees are given health insurance as a benefit. Like their pay, it should be considered theirs. They earned it. And just like their pay, they should have the right to do whatever they choose with it. Would it similarly be justified for these religious organizations to dictate what an employee did with his or her pay? A survey of Catholics found that a slight majority support religiously affiliated organizations including birth control in their health insurance. One wonders if they were pointedly asked about whether a woman of a different faith working at a Catholic hospital, for example, had the same right to have her employer-based health insurance cover her birth control the way that women are covered at every other type of job, what they would say.
Great article, well worth the read, and it blows all kinds of holes in using “religious freedom” being used to limit access to birth control.