Healthcare-Contraception Debate Hijacked by Politicians

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Some are calling it a war against religion. Others, an assault against freedom of expression or an attack against the Catholic Church. In reality, the new federal rules imposed by the healthcare reform package already exist in most states and all the uproar surrounding it is nothing more than politicizing a medical issue during a campaign year.

In August a new rule goes into effect requiring that most insurance plans cover fully preventive services for women, including contraceptives.

Churches, as religious sites, are exempt from this requirement. However, the Catholic Church doesn't feel this is sufficient and it wants any organization with a religious affiliation such as charities, hospitals and universities, to be exempt as well.

We believe that, in this case, the Church's request goes too far. The church has it religious values and society has its laws. In this case, the law respects and protects freedom of faith.

That said, a Catholic hospital is an employer and it should not have the right to pick an choose which labor laws to respect fully or partially. A university or medical center has a variety of employees and their goals extend beyond religious faith. For them , this isn't the church, it is an employer.

What would happen if every religiously orientated organization could choose to abide to labor laws to degree that they adhere to its doctrine?

There are religious doctrines that prohibit blood transfusions yet organizations that would be aligned with these teachings don't have health insurance that prohibits coverage of this procedure.

In addition, the healthcare reform bill isn't adding anything new in this regard. It was already the case that 28 states already had laws like this on the books, which is why the uproar has a suspiciously political tone to it. The complaints, from the priests' altar, pull together the presidential hopefuls and the congressional Republican leaders. It is a politically expedient way to mobilize the religious vote.

Conservatives love to target Obama's healthcare reform. The Catholic Church's criticism adds fuel to the fire with this new demand.

Friday's White House proposal addresses the criticism with a political maneuver that will allow an employer – in some cases, not to be required to be responsible for the coverage of birth control measures; rather, the insurer itself would provide the coverage. We hope that this compromise is the solution.

Freedom of faith and expression is an essential right in this country, but so is the right of a woman to have access to needed medical services. The healthcare reform package fulfills these twin rights.