By Robert Schlesinger |
President Obama's decision to ensure that insurance plans cover birth control without a co-pay is one of the greatest advancements in women's access to contraception in a generation.
Ninety-nine percent of American women—including 98 percent of Catholic women—use contraception at some point in their lives, yet 1 in 3 struggles with its high cost.
President Obama was right to make birth-control coverage available to women without a co-pay, which will help millions of women prevent unintended pregnancy and thereby reduce the need for abortion.
As a result of the president's decision, millions of women, including nurses, janitorial staff, and college instructors, will get coverage of contraception—and they will not have to ask their bosses for permission.
Sadly, anti-contraception politicians in Washington, D.C., and certain groups opposed to birth control want Congress to override President Obama's decision—even though the new rule specifically exempts churches and other houses of worship.
These politicians and groups are out of touch with our nation's values and priorities—and that's why NARAL Pro-Choice America will fight to make sure Congress doesn't take away birth-control coverage for women.
Let me be clear: Nothing about this new rule will affect a person's ability to practice his or her religion. Individuals will still be able to practice their religious beliefs without government interference.
Women of all religious backgrounds need to be able to make the healthcare decisions that are best for them and their families. Remember, doctors often prescribe contraception for health reasons other than preventing pregnancy. Without the Obama administration's policy, a woman could be forced to ask permission to get her birth control covered, requiring her to share confidential medical information with her boss.
The American people understand what's at issue here. That's why, according to a poll released by the Public Religion Research Institute this week, 55 percent of Americans agree that "employers should be required to provide their employees with health-care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost."
The same poll shows that shows that 58 percent of Catholics believe that employers should be required to provide their employees with healthcare plans that cover contraception.
As I travel throughout the country, the people I speak with are amazed that contraception could be under attack in the year 2012.
And yet, right now, Sen. Marco Rubio, a Republican from Florida, is pushing legislation that could take away birth-control coverage from millions of women.
These attacks are part of the broader War on Women's Health that's been going on all year. But the American people are standing up and saying, "Enough!"
Last week, the Susan G. Komen for the Cure breast-cancer charity learned what happens when you interfere with women's ability to access basic healthcare.
Given that 99 percent of American women use birth control at some point in their lives, politicians who attack it do so at their own risk.
About Nancy Keenan President of NARAL Pro-Choice America
Hannah Smith Senior Counsel at the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
Jeanne Monahan Director of the Center for Human Dignity at the Family Research Council