The lesson from this past week’s Komen/Planned Parenthood contretemps is that when women make our voices heard in defense of the health care we need, we win the argument.
So let’s not hesitate to make just as much noise in response to the hysteria now being whipped up about the Affordable Care Act’s requirement that all health care providers offer free contraception. Republican rhetoric suggests that this is the equivalent of requiring churches to distribute RU-486 instead of communion wafers; but that’s complete nonsense. Actual religious organizations are exempt. What’s not exempt is the network of hospitals and schools run by those religious organizations.
Hospitals and universities affiliated with religious groups aren’t exempt from the Civil Rights Act. As a result, they’re required to provide health care to women as well as men. Birth control is an essential part of health care for women—a fact you’d think most people would concede, as it’s a way of preventing the abortions they’re so horrified by.
The largest Catholic university in the country already provides birth control as part of its health plan. 28 states already require hospitals and universities to provide this minimum standard of care. If your employer dictates your health plan, and your health plan dictates where you get care—as most plans do—you may be sent to a Catholic hospital regardless of your own beliefs. Why isn’t it a violation of your religious freedom to be denied the care you need based on someone else’s dogma?
This is just a sketch of the arguments we can and must make, and make loudly, before the noise-makers on the other side take away the health care we’re entitled to and count on.
Write the President, write your Congressperson, write your Senator, write the Secretary of Health and Human Services, write the editor, sign every petition that shows up in your mailbox. Tell them: don’t compromise our health.
S.O.S.: Save Our Services. If we don’t do it, no one else will.