It’s no secret that I’m a proponent for the availability of low-cost, accessible birth control in this country. In fact, one of the core family values that I wrote about for Blog In 2011 revolved around the funding of Planned Parenthood and access to affordable family planning.
Yet, like many social issues in this country, there are always dissenting opinions. However, when those opinions begin infiltrating government policies that affect healthcare? Something needs to be done. We narrowly missed what could have been the devastating aftermath had the Personhood amendment passed in Mississippi: No more IVF, no more emergency contraception, and no more forms of certain birth control.
Despite defeating this amendment, the fight is far from over. Planned Parenthood Action Fund president Cecile Richards explains in her Huffington Post piece “The Other 99%,” that some House Republicans and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops are teaming up to undermine a new birth control benefit and take it away from millions of women.
More from Elizabeth Clark, of Planned Parenthood Action Fund: This summer, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) decided that birth control will be available with no co-pays under new health insurance plans. Now House Republicans and the bishops are pushing the Obama administration for an enormous and harmful expansion of the Affordable Care Act’s refusal clause that would undermine millions of women’s access to affordable birth control. Nearly one million nurses, secretaries, teachers, and other workers (and their dependents) who work at Catholic hospitals would lose benefits. In addition, the approximately two million students and workers at universities with a religious affiliation would also lose this important benefit. Simply put, House Republicans and the Bishops are pushing to cut access to affordable birth control.
Birth control is basic health care, and it improves health outcomes for women and their families. The refusal expansion runs counter to public opinion and practice: birth control use is nearly universal in the United States (98% of sexually experienced women will have used birth control at some point in their lives, including Catholic women), and public polling shows that a significant majority of women, including Catholic women, support the requirement that health plans cover birth control at no cost (71% of American voters, including 77% of Catholic women voters).
It should be noted that the current provision already includes a sweeping refusal clause, giving an exemption to churches and certain religious employers. The refusal clause that Republicans and the Bishops are pushing goes much further.
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If you’d like to take some action, you can sign a petition asking the president to stay strong in his support of women’s health. You can also follow the latest on Twitter by using the hashtag #bcrefusal.