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Debate Club

Should Catholic and Other Religious Institutions Have to Cover Birth Control?

Should Catholic and Other Religious Institutions Have to Cover Birth Control?

Last month, President Obama announced his administration’s plan to require religious employers, like universities and hospitals, to cover contraceptives in employee health plans. Obama’s new mandate would not require employers at houses of worship to provide their employees with contraceptives, but his announcement sparked a firestorm in different religious communities, pitting freedom of religion against the separation of church and state.

Obama has since said that he and his advisers are looking for ways to make the new requirements “more palatable” to religious institutions.

Proponents of the requirement argue that 98 percent of women in the United States have used birth control in their lives and that free access to contraceptives reduces unwanted pregnancies and lowers abortion rates. Likewise, they point to the separation of church and state, a key American doctrine, and hold that religious views on contraception have no bearing in the workplace. No one is requiring the use of contraception, their argument goes, only requiring that it be available to those who want it.

Unsurprisingly, Speaker of the House John Boehner and many Republicans have vowed to fight the president’s new policy. “This attack by the federal government on religious freedom in our country cannot stand, and will not stand,” Boehner said in a floor speech on Wednesday.

Opponents of Obama’s proposed requirement argue that requiring religious people to provide birth control violates religious freedom, another one of the country’s foundational tenets. They say that requiring people to violate their consciences is bad policy and that the president is getting involved in a culture war to stimulate his liberal cabal in an election year.

Should religious institutions be required to cover birth control? Here’s the Debate Club’s take:


The Arguments

#1
47 Pts
Religious Exemptions Must Be Employed Judiciously

Yes – Religious Exemptions Must Be Employed Judiciously

Jessica Arons Director of the Women's Health and Rights Program at Center for American Progress

#2
41 Pts
Contraception Mandate Doesn't Protect Religious Liberty

No – Contraception Mandate Doesn't Protect Religious Liberty

Hannah Smith Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty

#3
29 Pts
Contraception Mandate a Profound Violation of Religious Freedom

No – Contraception Mandate a Profound Violation of Religious Freedom

Jeanne Monahan Director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council

#4
17 Pts
Secularists Are Fanatics Too

No – Secularists Are Fanatics Too

Andrea S. Lafferty President of Traditional Values Coalition

#6
8 Pts
The Edict of the HHS Death Panel Cannot Stand

No – The Edict of the HHS Death Panel Cannot Stand

Patrick Vaughn General Counsel at American Family Association

#7
6 Pts
We Cannot Trust the President's Promises

No – We Cannot Trust the President's Promises

Janice Shaw Crouse Senior Fellow of Concerned Women for America's Beverly LaHaye Institute

#8
2 Pts
Government Cannot Dictate Private Beliefs

Yes – Government Cannot Dictate Private Beliefs

Roger N. Lancaster Director of Cultural Studies at George Mason University

#9
-5 Pts
Like Komen, Politicians Attack Birth Control at Their Own Risk
#10
-8 Pts
The Bishops Are in No Place to Cry Foul

Yes – The Bishops Are in No Place to Cry Foul

Louise Melling Deputy Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union

#11
-15 Pts
Blame the Church, Not the State

Yes – Blame the Church, Not the State

Joan Hoff Research Professor of History at Montana State University


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