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Much Ado About Nothing or Do Religious Groups Have a Point?

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I’ve listened to many talking heads yesterday and this morning about the new rules the Feds are putting in place to require all religious entities like hospitals to provide both contraception and other forms of birth control as a part of their insurance coverage.

Are the churches with whom these entities are affiliated and right wing conservatives again making much ado about nothing or do they have a point about the federal government infringing upon our religious freedoms? The Feds have said churches are exempt. So anyone hired to work in the church itself is not required to receive these insurance options. But should the hospitals and other businesses which are affiliated with those churches also be exempt because they are extensions of the church? Or when religious organizations choose to branch out into business be treated like all other businesses?

The most prominent of these entities are the many hospitals affiliated with religious organizations in our country. As many as one in six patients is treated at one of the roughly 600 Catholic hospitals in the United States annually. There are many other religiously affiliated hospitals across the country as well. Thousands of nurses, doctors, orderlies, x-ray technicians, secretaries, et cetera are employed in those hospitals, many of whom are women. Should all of these employees be forced to do without contraceptive services or by default be required  to pay for it themselves because the institutions for whom they work are affiliated with a church? The new rules don’t require the employees to use the birth control services, but do require the entity itself to provide the coverage.

The Guttmacher Institute reports:

• Among the 43 million fertile, sexually active women who do not want to become pregnant, 89% are practicing contraception

Another article posted at the Huffington Post states that 98 percent of Catholic women use birth control banned by the church. I think it is fair to say that the churches whose teachings and beliefs are staunchly against birth control in any form are out of touch with the majority of their parishioners.  Additionally, as many as 28 states have similar rules already in effect.  But should these facts be used as the basis on which to argue that the new Fed rule is proper? No, I don’t think so.

I believe the uproar is about three issues:

1) Whether parishioners agree with the teachings of their church or not, the Church hierarchy does and therefore, they are adamantly against such a new rule.

2) This is a political football the right wing believes it can use to rally its base. Gingrich has been railing against President Obama for “waging war on religion” for months. Now Romney is joining in and painting the President in the same framework.

3) The right-wing has been extremely busy trying to destroy women’s access to contraception and birth control services with their personhood legislation across the country and other bills which require unnecessary and unwarranted “tests” before a woman is allowed to have an abortion, in addition to trumped up rules for “hospital-like” facilities in order to meet the requirements to offer abortion services all based on their religious beliefs.

I personally do not believe this is an assault on religion. Businesses are businesses, IMHO, whether they affiliated with a religious group or not.  The rules should be the same for all. Finally, if women don’t stand up and fight, we’ll soon be seeing our daughters go off to jail for having a miscarriage.