Feb 8th 2012

Protecting Access to Birth Control Does Not Violate Religious Freedom – And it is A Moral Imperative

by Robert Creamer

Robert Creamer is a long-time political organizer and strategist and author of the recent book: "Stand Up Straight: How Progressives Can Win," available on amazon.com.
 In many respects it is amazing that in 2012 there is a controversy over women’s access to birth control.
 
Let’s be clear, the current controversy over the Obama Administration’s rules that require all employers who provide health insurance to provide birth control without a co-pay to its women employees, has nothing whatsoever to do with religious freedom.
 
It has everything to do with an attempt to take away women’s access to easy, affordable birth control, no matter where they work. 
 
Birth control is not controversial.  Surveys show that 99% of women and 98% of Catholic women have used birth control at some time in their lives.
 
No one is trying to require that anyone else use birth control if it violates their religious convictions.  But the convictions of some religious leaders should not be allowed to trump the rights of women employees to have access to birth control.
 
The rule in question exempts 355,000 churches from this requirement since they presumably hire individuals who share the religious faith of the institutions in question.  But it does not exempt universities and hospitals that may be owned by religious organizations, but serve – and employ – people of all faiths to engage in decidedly secular activities. These are not “religious institutions.”  They are engaged in the normal flow of commerce, even though they are owned by religious organizations.
 
Some religious leaders argue that they should not be required to pay for birth control coverage for their employees if they have religious objections to birth control.   This argument ignores the fact that health insurance coverage is not a voluntary gift to employees.  It is a part of their compensation package.  If someone opposed the minimum wage on religious grounds – say because they believed it “discouraged individual initiative” -- that wouldn’t excuse them from having to pay the minimum wage.
 
If a Christian Science institution opposed invasive medical treatment on religious grounds, it would not be allowed to provide health care plans that fund only spiritual healing. 
 
Many Americans opposed the Iraq War – some on religious grounds.  That did not excuse them from paying taxes to the government.
 
The overwhelming majority of Americans oppose taking away the ability for women to have easy, affordable access to birth control. A Public Policy Polling survey released yesterday found that 56% of voters support the decision to require health plans to cover prescription birth control with no additional out-of-pocket fees, while only 37% opposed.  Fifty-three percent of Catholic voters favor the benefit.
 
Fifty-seven percent of voters think that women employed by Catholic hospitals and universities should have the same rights to contraceptive coverage as other women.
 
No doubt these numbers would be vastly higher if the poll were limited to the employees of those hospitals and universities because eliminating the requirement of coverage would cost the average woman $600 to $1,200 per year in out-of-pocket costs.
 
But ironically, requiring birth control coverage generally costs nothing to the institution that provides it.  That’s because by making birth control accessible, health plans cut down on the number of unwanted pregnancies that cost a great deal more.  And of course they also cut down on the number of abortions.
 
That may help explain why many Catholic-owned universities already provide coverage for birth control. For instance, a Georgetown University spokesperson told ThinkProgress yesterday that employees “have access to health insurance plans offered and designed by national providers to a national pool. These plans include coverage for birth control.”

The University of San Francisco, the University of Scranton, DePaul University in Chicago, Boston College -- all have health insurance plans that cover contraception.

And, finally, this is nothing new. Twenty-eight states already require organizations that offer prescription insurance to cover contraception.

Of course the shocking thing about this entire controversy is that there is a worldwide consensus that the use of birth control is one of society’s most important moral priorities.  Far from being something that should be discouraged, or is controversial, the use of birth control is critical to the survival and success of humanity.

In 1968, the world’s population reached 3.5 billion people.  On October 31, 2011, the United Nations Population Division reported that the world population had reached seven billion.  It had doubled in 43 years.

It took 90,000 years of human development for the population to reach 1 billion. Over the last two centuries the population has grown by another six billion.

In fact, in the first 12 years of the 21st Century, we have already added a billion people to the planet.

It is simply not possible for this small planet to sustain that kind of exponential human population growth.  If we do, the result will be poverty, war, the depletion of our natural resources and famine. Fundamentally, the Reverend Thomas Robert Malthus was right -- except that the result is not inevitable.

Population growth is not something that just happens to us.  We can choose whether or not to reproduce and at what rates. 

No force is required.  The evidence shows that the population explosion stops where there is the availability of birth control and women have educational opportunity.

That’s why it is our moral imperative to act responsibly and encourage each other to use birth control.  And it’s not a hard sell.  Children are the greatest blessing you can have in life.  But most people are eager to limit the number of children they have if they have access to contraception. We owe it to those children – to the next generation and the generation after that -- to act responsibly and stabilize the size of the human population.

The moral thing to do is to make certain that every woman who wants it has access to birth control.
               
 

Browse articles by author

More Current Affairs

Apr 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Some presidents indulge in the “Mount Rushmore syndrome” making an obvious effort to achieve greatness. Normally soft-spoken and apparently modest Biden is making his own bid for immortality."
Apr 9th 2021
EXTRACT: "New ways of thinking about the role of government are as important as new priorities. Many commentators have framed Biden’s infrastructure plan as a return to big government. But the package is spread over eight years, will raise public spending by only one percentage point of GDP, and is projected to pay for itself eventually. A boost in public investment in infrastructure, the green transition, and job creation is long overdue."
Apr 7th 2021
EXTRACT: " One can, and perhaps should, take the optimistic view that moral panics in the US blow over; reason will once again prevail. It could be that the Biden era will take the sting out of Trumpism, and the tolerance for which American intellectual life has often been admired will be reinvigorated. This might even happen while the noxious effects of American influence still rage in other countries. For the sake of America and the world, one can only hope it happens soon.  "
Mar 28th 2021
EXTRACT: "By refusing (despite having some good reasons) to end electoral gerrymandering, Chief Justice John G. Roberts, Jr., has directly enabled the paralyzing hyper-partisanship that reached its nadir during Donald Trump’s presidency. By striking down all limits on corporate spending on political campaigns in the infamous 2010 Citizens United decision, he has helped to entrench dark money in US politics. And by gutting the 1965 Voting Rights Act in Shelby County v. Holder, Roberts has facilitated the racist voter-suppression tactics now being pursued in many Republican-controlled states."
Mar 24th 2021
EXTRACT: "the UK’s tough choices accumulate, and the problems lurking around the corner look menacing. Britain will have to make the best of Brexit. But it will be a long, hard struggle, all the more so with an evasive fabulist in charge."
Mar 15th 2021
EXTRACT: "Over the years, the approach of most American policymakers toward the Israeli-Palestinian conflict has been Israel-centric with near total disregard for the suffering endured by the Palestinian people. The architects of policy in successive US administrations have discussed the conflict as if the fate of only one party (Israel) really mattered. Israelis were treated as full human beings with hopes and fears, while Palestinians were reduced to a problem that needed to be solved so that Israelis could live in peace and security.  ..... It is not just that Israelis and Palestinians haven’t been viewed with an equal measure of concern. It’s worse than that. It appears that Palestinians were judged as less ​human than Israelis, and were, therefore, not entitled to make demands to have their rights recognized and protected."
Mar 8th 2021
EXTRACTS: "XThere’s a global shortage in semiconductors, and it’s becoming increasingly serious." ...... "The automotive sector has been worst affected by the drought, in an era where microchips now form the backbone of most cars. Ford is predicting a 20% slump in production and Tesla shut down its model 3 assembly line for two weeks. In the UK, Honda was forced to temporarily shut its plant as well." ..... " As much as 70% of the world’s semiconductors are manufactured by just two companies, Taiwan Semiconductor (TSMC) and Samsung."
Mar 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Back in 1992, Lawrence H. Summers, then the chief economist at the World Bank, and I warned that pushing the US Federal Reserve’s annual inflation target down from 4% to 2% risked causing big problems. Not only was the 4% target not producing any discontent, but a 2% target would increase the risk of the Fed’s interest-rate policy hitting the zero lower bound. Our objections went unheeded. Fed Chair Alan Greenspan reduced the inflation target to 2%, and we have been paying for it ever since. I have long thought that many of our economic problems would go away if we could rejigger asset markets in such a way as to make a 5% federal funds rate consistent with full employment in the late stage of a business cycle."
Mar 2nd 2021
EXTRACT: "Under these conditions, the Fed is probably worried that markets will instantly crash if it takes away the punch bowl. And with the increase in public and private debt preventing the eventual monetary normalization, the likelihood of stagflation in the medium term – and a hard landing for asset markets and economies – continues to increase."
Mar 1st 2021
EXTRACT: "Massive fiscal and monetary stimulus programs in the United States and other advanced economies are fueling a raging debate about whether higher inflation could be just around the corner. Ten-year US Treasury yields and mortgage rates are already climbing in anticipation that the US Federal Reserve – the de facto global central bank – will be forced to hike rates, potentially bursting asset-price bubbles around the world. But while markets are probably overstating short-term inflation risks for 2021, they do not yet fully appreciate the longer-term dangers."
Feb 28th 2021
EXTRACT: "To be sure, calls to “build back better” from the pandemic imply some awareness of the need for systemic change. But the transformation we need extends beyond constructing modern infrastructure or unlocking private investment in any one country. We need to re-orient – indeed, re-invent – global politics, so that countries can cooperate far more effectively in creating a better world."
Feb 23rd 2021
EXTRACT: "So, notwithstanding the predictable release of pent-up demand for consumer durables, face-to-face services show clear evidence – in terms of both consumer demand and employment – of permanent scarring. Consequently, with the snapback of pent-up demand for durables nearing its point of exhaustion, the recovery of the post-pandemic US economy is likely to fall well short of vaccine development’s “warp speed.” "
Feb 20th 2021
EXTRACT: "Human rights abuses under Erdogan are beyond the pale of inhumanity and moral decadence. The list of Erdogan’s violations and cruelty is too long to numerate. The detention and horrifying torture of thousands of innocent people for months and at times for years, without being charged, is hard to fathom. Many prisoners are left languishing in dark cells, often in solitary confinement. The detention of tens of thousands of men and hundreds of women, many with their children, especially following the 2016 failed coup, has become common. It is calculated to inflict horrendous pain and suffering to bring the prisoners to the breaking point, so that they confess to crimes they have never committed."
Feb 20th 2021
Courtyard of the Amsterdam Stock Exchange, circa 1670, (Job Adriaenszoon Berckheyde).
Feb 12th 2021
EXTRACT: "Global regulators will no doubt be concerned about a potential volatility spillover from digital asset prices into traditional capital markets. They may not permit what could quickly amount to effective proxy approval by the back door for companies holding large proportions of a volatile asset on their balance sheets."
Feb 11th 2021
EXTRACT: "Since Russians began protesting opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s imprisonment, the security forces have apparently had carte blanche to arrest demonstrators – and they have done so by the thousands. If Russians so much as honk their car horns in solidarity with the protesters, they risk personal repercussions. The official response to the protests goes beyond the Kremlin’s past repression. It is war."
Feb 6th 2021
EXTRACT: ".......like Biden, Roosevelt was certainly no revolutionary. His task was to save American capitalism. He was a repairer, a fixer. The New Deal was achieved not because of Roosevelt’s genius or heroism, but because enough people trusted him to act in good faith. That is precisely what people are expecting from Biden, too. He must save US democracy from the ravages of a political crisis. To do so, he must reestablish trust in the system. He has promised to make his country less polarized, and to restore civility and truth to political discourse. In this endeavor, his lack of charisma may turn out to be his greatest strength. For all that he lacks in grandeur, he makes up for by exuding an air of decency."
Feb 2nd 2021
EXTRACT: "Europe must not lose sight of the long game, which inevitably will center on China, not Russia or relations with post-Brexit Britain. China is already establishing a presence in Iran, and demonstrating that it has the capital, know-how, and technology to project power and influence beyond its borders. Should it succeed in turning the Belt and Road Initiative into a line of geopolitical stepping-stones, it might soon emerge at Europe’s southeastern border in a form that no one in the EU foresaw."
Jan 29th 2021
EXTRACT: "One sign of this change is that, unlike all recent Democratic administrations, Biden’s hasn’t paid obeisance to Wall Street by giving bankers top jobs. The new Secretary of the Treasury, Janet Yellen, is a former Federal Reserve chair and academic who has made it clear that she understands the country’s pressing social needs. Moreover, Biden consulted Warren on her economic views, and has named a former Warren adviser as Yellen’s deputy. Yellen’s appointment demonstrates that Biden shares the insight that enabled Trump’s rise: that too many Americans feel that they cannot get a fair share. "
Jan 24th 2021
EXTRACT: "Barack Obama cautioned in his final speech as president that, “Our democracy is threatened whenever we take it for granted.” Yet isn’t that exactly what America has been doing? In a decade punctuated by the global financial crisis, the COVID-19 crisis, a racial-justice crisis, an inequality crisis, and now a political crisis, we have only paid lip service to lofty democratic ideals. ... Sadly, this complacency has come at a time of growing fragility for the American experiment. Internet-enabled connectivity is dangerously amplifying an increasingly polarized national discourse in an era of mounting social and political instability. The resulting vulnerability was brought into painfully sharp focus on January 6. The stewardship of democracy is at grave risk. "