I’ve been debating a post on this topic for a while now. I hesitate to get too political because I tend to take a long time to think before speaking (or writing) and therefore don’t enjoy the type of rapid-fire discourse that can erupt online around these issues. Nevertheless, my thoughts have been nagging at me to set them free for weeks, so here we have it.
To say that I’m alarmed by the current political climate and what many have labeled a “war on women” would be an understatement. The fight over government-mandated birth control coverage and whether or not Catholic universities and other such businesses should have to abide by these same rules has gotten a lot of attention recently. Access to contraception is something I’ve always felt strongly about, even before consciously deciding that I wasn’t going to have kids at all. Many would argue that this current debate is not an issue of women’s reproductive rights, but rather an issue of constitutionality and freedom of religion. I disagree, quite strongly, but I’ll focus on the religious aspect for now.
We are all free to worship who- or whatever we wish, if we wish to at all, and the government doesn’t have the right to make laws that infringe on that freedom. I understand Catholics and others may have objections to contraception based on their faith. They are free to use it or not use it as they see fit. Congress cannot create laws that would force these people to use contraception in violation of their religious beliefs.
We all in agreement so far? Good.
Whatever your faith, or non-faith, I think we can also all agree that each of us has free will. Even those who share your faith have their own free will, and may choose to do things with which you don’t agree, and which you may feel go against your shared religious beliefs. Do you get a say in their decisions, or anyone else’s? No.
If an employer is required to include contraception coverage in their medical benefits, this in no way affects anyone’s right to worship as they wish. No one is forced to use the birth control. But it will be available for anyone who chooses to exercise their God-given free will and use it, no matter their religious beliefs.
There’s still the argument that Catholics (or anyone with religious objections to contraception) shouldn’t have to pay for anyone’s birth control. There are two reasons I find this argument ridiculous.
1. A lesson in how businesses works
A business provides goods or services to a consumer, who pays money for those goods or services. The money paid by the consumer goes to the business and is used for various operational expenses, including employee wages and benefits. It works this way regardless of whether the company or organization is founded on any religious principle, and regardless of the religions of anyone in the organization, from top to bottom.
I sure hope all those employers crying foul about their religious liberties and whining that they shouldn’t be forced to pay for that sinful stuff called birth control think twice before buying, oh, anything, ANYWHERE, as a private citizen. Because you’re paying for the birth control of that restaurant manager every time you eat out just about as directly as you’d be paying for the birth control of your own employees.
Another news flash to employers: You’re funding your employees’ birth control anyway! Even if they aren’t on your insurance! Even if you get your way and your insurance doesn’t cover birth control! How? You’re paying them! Whether their wages are rated to pay for employer-sponsored health insurance and then pay a co-pay at the pharmacy, or they take their pay directly to a clinic or other provider and pay full price for their contraception, you know who still “paid for” it in one way or another? The employer. Or you could say it was the consumers who patronized the employer, who then paid the employee, who then paid the doctor/pharmacy/insurance company for the contraception. However you split the hairs, it’s you and me paying for each other. Get used to it.
2. Your rights end where mine begin. My rights end where yours begin.
You have every right not to use birth control because of your religious beliefs. I have every right to use or not use based on my own beliefs. None of that changes just because you start a company or organization and start giving people jobs. Each and every person you employ has their own religious freedom, and they may choose to use or not use birth control, and that does not affect your ability to worship freely. You may not, however, use your personal religion to try to circumvent laws that will regulate your business.
I won’t get into the fight about whether access to birth control is a “right”, because it’s really irrelevant here. An employer that wants to be exempt from this requirement is effectively telling employees “You have to be governed by the laws of my religion, no matter what you personally believe.” Nope. Doesn’t work that way. I’m sorry, but it is not against your religion to partially fund, however directly or indirectly, an insurance plan that covers, among myriad other medications and procedures, contraception that a woman may or may not choose to use. As I mentioned in the point above, if that were truly the case, I’d expect to see good Catholics everywhere boycotting any business that subsidizes health insurance with coverage for contraception.
If you are going to engage in the business sector by becoming an employer, you must abide by the laws regulating business. That’s it. Period.
End of story.