Another 99% and 1%: This time related to Contraception

Cecile Richards, President, Planned Parenthood Action Fund recently talked about “The Other 99%” in her post about forces going after restricting access to birth control. Fact: “99% of women in the U.S. who have been sexually active have used birth control. It’s used by women of every demographic, every geographic location, every income level — and every religious group.” She asks, “So does it sound crazy that a small group of religious leaders and tea-party Republicans are fighting to eliminate women’s access to birth control? Crazy but true…

The reality now: Regulations require insurance plans offered by employers to cover contraception.  However, they exempt churches and other clearly religious institutions from this requirement.

What is happening: The Conference of Catholic Bishops and other groups have been lobbying for a much broader definition of the exemption.  The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) originally crafted the exemption and defined “a religious employer as applying to nonprofit organizations that have ” instilling religious values as their purpose and whose employees and clients share their religious tenets.”

Lobbyists are trying to expand this definition to include “religiously affiliated” colleges, universities, medical schools, hospitals, social service organizations, and schools such that it will prevent them from offering birth control coverage for their employees as well. As Ms. Richards makes clear, they are trying to push for this, “despite the fact that these institutions in large part neither employ nor serve individuals who share their religious beliefs. In fact, they are open to and serve the public.”

The truth is even 98% of sexually-active Catholic women have used methods of birth control prohibited by the Vatican.  And the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) has declared that “the exclusion of insurance coverage for prescription contraceptive drugs and devices in an employer health plan that covers prescription drugs” spells sex discrimination.

Why would  forces still want to find new ways to restrict access to birth control?  Some say it’s a Vatican “power grab.”  I think somehow, someway, that this attempt to expand the exemption is a part in a legal master plan to ultimately roll back Roe v Wade.  Both are about taking away the fundamental right to control one’s reproductive life.

Efforts like this send me through the roof. Join me and stand with these groups who are sending the White House the message to stop the “1%” on this one–the current exemption is more than enough when it comes to religious liberty, and that expanding refusal clauses is not what 99% of Americans want as a part of healthcare reform.

Catholics for Choice

National Women’s Law Center

Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

NARAL Pro-Choice America

8 thoughts on “Another 99% and 1%: This time related to Contraception

  1. Hi Laura,
    I live in Australia, but this story makes me so angry. I feel that this sort of legal manipulation goes hand in hand with the oppression of women. This should not even be allowed to be considered by the law makers in a country like America (or ideally in any country at all), as it seems to me to be totally undisguised negative discrimination towards women, by a group of powerful men. I find this sickening and very concerning. It is my personal belief that religious organisations should not have this exemption at all – so much for the separation of church and state! I really hope that the people of America will rise up against this attempted injustice and prevent these laws from going through.

  2. What century are we in? This is so bizarre to me. It’s just a few steps away from the Comstock Act in the 19th century, which made it illegal in the U.S. to send birth control information through the mail, even illegal to send information about conception through the mail. Medical students could not even receive their textbooks through the US Mail because those books were considered obscene. (You could not even send a copy of the Comstock Act through the mail.) Is this where we’re headed? Totally ridiculous and asinine.

  3. Supposedly, the Church doesn’t want to interfere in the natural process of conception, but it has no problems with intervening to *increase* fertility. None of these conservatives would ban Viagra or fertility treatments from insurance coverage….

    1. You go, Scott! I could not agree more. the Comstock Act came to mind with me too when I read about this. It sends me to no end that such a small group of people with such a throw back agenda can get as far as they have with this!

  4. I completely with Scott and Laura; this effort by the catholic bishops is a 21st century version of the 19th century Comstock Law, which in my opinion was one of the most draconian laws against women ever passed.

    However, this is not much of a surprise to me, as the church has never progressed into the 21st century in its attitudes about women, sex, and reproduction. As far as I’M concerned, the church is still stuck somewhere in the 16th century, and I’m probably being too generous. It considers all forms of reliable birth control “evil” or “against God’s design for marriage” and other monumentally stupid things. It is actually none of the church’s bleeping business whether a woman or couple has children or not, yet it feels entitled to try and control the sexual and reproductive choices of ALL women.

    This is one of the many reasons I kicked what I call the toxic baggage of the catholic church to the curb over 30 years ago. I still consider that one of the best life decisions I ever made, as I alone make my reproductive choices, rather than allowing a bunch of church clerics to make them for me.

  5. yeah from Australia to, and we have some stupid issues going here as well…but its hard to believe we are living in 2011. How come we are always in danger of going backwards of forgetting why things changed and how women have suffered in the past. How does this come about? Another slip back into the dark ages.

  6. I find the theology of all of this to be quite contradictory.

    If God is omnipotent and can make miracles happen, no amount of birth control would ever stop a pregnancy if that’s what God really wanted. So, I don’t see how birth control could ever thwart God’s will anyway, so why even bother stopping people from using it? (According to the church, God even made a virgin pregnant one time, so I don’t see why He would be all that concerned with silly little things like condoms. He’d probably just laugh.)

    Unless the church is saying that The Pill is more powerful than The Lord. That sounds pretty blasphemous to me. Besides, if God truly did not want birth control to exist, how could it possibly exist? I’m getting mixed messages here from Creation.

    Then again, the whole ommipotence vs. free will equation has never really been worked out to my satisfaction.

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