by Max Brantley
The hierarchy of the Catholic Church may have become an arm of the national Republican Party, but indvidual Catholics and women in general still have plenty to say in opposition to the misrepresentation of the Obama administration's decision that those offering private health insurance to employees must offer an option that includes contraception coverage for those who want it.
It’s disturbing to again see the church react as an institution, labeling the Obama administration as “attacking religious freedom” for its decision to require the majority of employer-based health insurance plans to cover women’s preventive services, including contraception, without charging a copay, or a deductible, as recommended by the medical community. In its criticism, the church also ignores the fact that no individual is required to buy a plan that covers contraception costs, houses of worship are exempt and no Catholic doctor is forced to write a prescription. Notably, questions of morality have not been raised about the coverage of prescriptions enhancing a man’s sexual pleasure in the plans currently offered.
Again out of touch, the church leadership is unable to accept the changed perspective and health concerns of its followers. In addition to the 98 percent of Catholic women who’ve used contraception, studies show that 71 percent of Americans, including 77 percent of Catholic women, support covering it at no cost. From reducing the risk of ovarian and endometrial cancers to treating severe migraines, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroid tumors, abnormal bleeding and anemia and providing family planning, there are any number of reasons a woman and her doctor may decide contraception is in the best interest of her health. The No. 1 reason women aren’t able to chose contraception to protect their health is cost, not religion. And these issues affect not only women but also their families and those who love and rely on them.
Without even acknowledging legitimate women’s health and rights issues, the GOP/right-wing talking points distort the facts, distract from the truth and create further divides, just as they attempted with the Susan G. Komen Foundation’s now-reversed decision to pull funding for breast cancer screenings from Planned Parenthood.