Monday, July 25, 2011

Andrew Sullivan on Conniption Fit of Religious and Political Right about Contraception Proposal

Andrew Sullivan notes the conniption fit that the religious and political right is throwing over the recommendation of the Institute of Medicine that health plans under the Affordable Care Act cover birth control at no additional cost to the patient.  He cites Kay Steiger's response to the Family Research Council, which is objecting to the proposal because it regards contraception as a form of abortion, and does not think taxpayers should be forced to subsidize abortion.

As Steiger points out, the way insurance works is that we all pay into a large pool which subsidizes health care for everyone, and individuals make up the additional amount by paying the balance for the particular health care procedure or intervention they need.  The system would not work if we gave each person contributing to the pool the veto power to block other people's health care needs on the basis of their own individual conscientious objection.

Sullivan also cites Perma Levy, who notes that the religious and political right have deliberately confused the issues of abortion and contraception, when the real goal of these groups is not only to prevent access to abortion, but to try to block access to contraception as well.  Read USCCB spokeswoman Sr. Mary Ann Walsh's piece in the Washington Post about the IOM proposal, and the USCCB statement on which her comments are based, and you'll see this is exactly what Catholic officials are seeking to do: in the name of opposing abortion (e.g., the morning-after pill), they're actually arguing that access of the insured to contraception should be blocked.

If access to contraception itself is not what concerns the bishops, why would Sr. Mary Ann Walsh argue--as my initial posting about this controversy, to which I link above, notes that she does--that it's all about safeguarding the Catholic church's stance that contraception thwarts the intimacy of marital intercourse?  

I'm not opposed to permitting Sr. Mary Ann and the bishops to think this, if they wish.  What concerns me is their attempt to impose their peculiar religiously-based analysis of contraception on the public at large, while arguing they're promoting religious freedom and the rights of conscience.  And I'm also very concerned about their erroneous and deceptive attempt to equate contraception with abortion.

Basic health care is a human right, and access to contraception is part of basic health care.  The Catholic church has no business trying to prevent access to that part of fundamental health care, and it loses the right of proclaiming that it's all about defending human rights when it behaves this way.

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