By Zachary Bailes
The Obama administration recently initiated a directive requiring religious institutions to offer coverage for contraception in their health-care plans. Among those raising concerns is the Catholic Church. Contraception and Catholic theology aren’t compatible it seems, and in a society that values freedom of religion this debate is far from over.
Melissa Rogers, Wake Forest University School of Divinity Director of the Center for Religion and Public Affairs, appeared on Hardball with Chris Matthews Wednesday and stated: “I think that expanded contraceptive coverage can be offered, and even to employees of objecting religious organizations, but we should just not require the objecting religious organizations themselves to pay for and offer that.”
There’s no easy solution to the problem. Melissa Rogers suggests finding a “win-win solution,” and points to particular states that have started such a solution. “Under Hawaii law, religious employers that decline to cover contraceptives must provide written notification to enrollees disclosing that fact and describing alternate ways for enrollees to access coverage for contraceptive services,” she said.
Even Rogers admits that the state laws that already exist are far from perfect, but they start the conversation.
Of course, if Christians wanted to own their prophetic voice, they would call for federal funding for contraception. In fact, we would support a health-care bill that would include free contraception. More than that, it would include preventative care and support for clinics that focus specifically on women’s health.
Planned Parenthood’s abortions made up 3 percent of its services in 2010, while cancer screening accounted for about 15 percent. Then there’s the largest percentage: 71 percent of its services are for treatment and testing of sexually transmitted diseases and birth control.
While the abortion issue remains hotly debated, the one organization that receives more heat than any other for abortions focuses more heavily upon women’s health than aborting fetuses.
This mandate, and the ensuing fallout from the Catholic Church, demonstrates a failing health-care system. Improving it has been hampered by partisanship interested in hoarding money rather than helping the least of these. If the Catholic Church and others don’t want the government dictating what they must provide, then they should endorse giving the government the ability and power to directly provide contraception.
In the final analysis, perhaps one way we best protect religious liberty is by improving our national health-care system. After all, someone only cares about “soul liberty” when they’re healthy enough to fight for it.