By Erin Matson, NOW Action Vice President
Undoubtedly, you have heard: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops want to take birth control coverage away from all women under the Affordable Care Act.
Unfortunately, you probably heard about that from men. Think Progress released research last week showing that the major cable networks invited nearly twice as many men as women to discuss the fight for contraceptive coverage.
When women aren’t called upon to discuss the realities of our lives, we are left with men discussing the contents of our medicine cabinets as if they were “culture wars” or “assaults on religious freedom.” (For the record: Women’s bodies are not cultural commodities, and any meaningful freedom of religion requires freedom from an imposed religion.)
So here are five big facts on birth control not nearly enough discussed by men in the mainstream media:
- Contraception is basic health care. Virtually all women use birth control at some point in their lives, and that includes 98 percent of Catholic women. A majority supports contraceptive coverage, including a majority of Catholic hospital employees.
- This “controversy” has awfully strange timing. 28 states already provide for coverage of contraceptives.
- Churches already have an out. 335,000 religious institutions, including Catholic churches, may refuse to provide contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
- Contraceptive coverage makes a difference for women. One of three women say they struggle to afford birth control.
- This is sex discrimination. More than a decade ago the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruled that an employer’s failure to cover contraceptives is a violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act.
Late last week, President Obama announced a compromise that allows religiously affiliated institutions to not pay for contraceptive coverage, while still ensuring that every woman gets equal access to this basic medical care(private insurance companies will pay).
Yet the bishops continue to attack, revealing their true aims: It’s not about Catholic dollars and “religious freedom,” it’s about refusing all women coverage for birth control. It’s up to women to speak the truth about our health and lives.