Thursday, March 8, 2012

The birth control mandate has nothing to do with religion

A common news topic in this election year is the controversy surrounding the birth control mandate in Obama's health care bill. The religious, especially Catholics, claim that the mandate to provide health insurance that covers birth control free of charge violates their religious rights because it goes against their beliefs. Well, they are wrong it does not violate their religious rights.

The bill does not tell Catholics that they must change their beliefs. It does not require them to use the contraception that would be provided free of charge. It does not even require them to personally provide such contraception. It merely says they must have a health insurance plan that provides birth control for those who wish to have it. The Catholics thus are mostly complaining that their funds might be used to cover something they don't believe in but that their employees want.

Well, we have plenty of history of forcing people to do things they don't believe in. We forced racist employers to stop discriminating when hiring. We all need to pay taxes which support wars and public programs many do not believe in. Part of being in a society is realizing that we will not all agree on every program that is ran by our government. That is not to say that we should not fight those programs that we believe are wrong. But claiming that a law discriminates against you because it violates your beliefs shouldn't be taken seriously. The proper argument is to try to show that your beliefs should be accepted by society as a whole.

The Catholic church faces a problem. Society as a whole is largely beginning to disagree with them on the issue of contraception. They cannot win the battle against contraception so they have fallen back and are desperately clinging to a sinking ship and trying to plug the round hole with the square peg of a religious discrimination claim.

Think about what the Catholics are trying to deny. If they have employees who want birth control they want to reduce access to birth control for those employees. They are thus attacking the right of those who believe in birth control to use birth control.  If Catholics wish to claim that their religion is being discriminated against they must also admit that they wish to discriminate against their employees who believe in and wish to use birth control.

But discrimination is really not the issue here. This is simply an issue of social policy debate: is universal access to birth control and other contraceptives a good thing and should we mandate it? That is the true debate. The issue of religious discrimination is merely a sideshow attempt to draw attention away from the real issue because that battle is one the Catholics likely cannot win.

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