In Erik Jacob’s letter that ran in The Temple News’ March 13 issue, he failed to address the issue fairly, despite his stated purpose being just that.
As conservatives have been doing since the contraception rule was first announced, Jacobs bemoaned the perceived attack on religious liberty. While the original rule did require religious organizations to provide contraception for its employees, it did not require churches to do so. When a religious organization decides to venture into healthcare, education and other industries, they don’t take their First Amendment protection with them. The First Amendment protects religious institutions, not the religious beliefs of employers. When the Catholic Church decides to go into different industries, those protections don’t carry over, and the organizations they set up deserve to have the same standards applied to them as any other private institution.
But all that doesn’t matter now because the rule has been revised. Insurance companies are now required to provide contraception coverage free of charge and this is a service they willingly provide. Now the morality of birth control is completely up to the individual.
And while Jacobs claims that “not once has any GOP candidate come out to oppose contraception,” he is unfortunately wrong. In an interview with an Evangelical blog called Caffeinated Thoughts, republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said, “One of the things I will talk about that no president has talked about before is I think the dangers of contraception in this country, the whole sexual libertine idea. Many in the Christian faith have said, ‘Well, that’s OK. Contraception’s OK.’ It’s not OK because it’s a license to do things in the sexual realm that is counter to how things are supposed to be.”
Jacobs then went on to attack Planned Parenthood, going as far as to claim that tax payers are funding abortions. As it currently stands, the Federal government cannot fund abortions except in the cases of rape, incest or life endangerment. Furthermore Planned Parenthood provides a wide range of women’s health services, in addition to family planning. Considering that four in 10 pregnancies are unintended, these services are clearly necessary. He also claims that birth control is “very affordable,” but oral contraception alone can carry a price tag of $1,210 per year. Oral contraceptives not only reduce unintended pregnancies, they also have other health benefits, including decreasing the risk for ovarian cancer.
The contraception rule is a common sense decision that both saves money and promotes responsible family planning. If it was a religious freedom issue before, it certainly isn’t now that coverage is provided by insurance companies. Attempts by people like Jacobs to tie this issue to abortion and the First Amendment are despicably underhanded.
Political Science, 2014