Battle continues over mandated contraception coverage
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It is church versus state once again as a recent announcement by the Obama administration mandates that under the Affordable Care Act, all employer-based health insurance must provide contraceptive coverage, without co-pays. This includes any faith-based employers, like schools and hospitals. Now, some members of the Catholic Church and other Conservatives are calling it a violation of the first amendment.
Dennis Poust, the Director of Communications for the New York State Catholic Conference said, “They could find other means to provide contraception to Americans without forcing Catholic employers to violate their religious conscience.”
At a press conference Tuesday in Albany, a group of Catholic policymakers and legislators spoke in favor of the change, citing a New York law that’s provided similar coverage for the past 10 years.
Sara Hutchinson, the domestic program director for Catholics for Choice, said, “We aren’t forcing anyone to take birth control, we aren’t forcing anyone to prescribe birth control, we’re simply allowing the access for those who choose it for themselves.” She added, “Organizations that are religiously affiliated, serve, employ and work with those from a variety of faiths. So to impose the views of those employers on whether or not contraceptive access is available, as it will be under this rule for everyone else, seems more like a discriminatory practice.”
State Senator Diane Savino, who is a Catholic herself, said, “We need the church to recognize that acknowledging that Catholic women are practicing birth control is not a step backward for the church, it’s a step forward.”
There is an exemption, but it tends to only include religious institutions considered “places of worship.” Those against this decision say those limits need to be expanded.
“It’s not just the church, the priests and the nuns, and the people who work in the rectory,” said Poust. “All of our ministries encompass the church. We have a right to define what is ‘Catholic,’ not the government.”
However, they aren’t the only ones fighting over the definition.
“The bishops do not represent all Catholics,” said Hutchinson. “Those of us who adhere to the faith, are actually the church. The 70 million in the United States, the 6 billion across the world, the 7.2 million in New York.”
The policy goes into effect August 1, 2012. Religious organizations that do not provide contraceptive coverage based on religious beliefs will have until an extra year to comply, bringing the deadline to August 2013.
This article was originally published by Your News Now.