When I was first deciding whether or not to use prescription birth control, my initial question was not, “What will my boss think about this?” Rather, my first thoughts were about how I would have an honest conversation with my doctor; how we would determine the best method to fit my life; and how to determine what services were covered by my insurance plan to figure out what I could afford.
I had a lot of decisions to make. I was lucky enough to be working at an institution that covered the pills on which I ultimately settled. The last thing I needed to think about was whether my office even allowed me the option to access this kind of basic preventive health care.
Medical experts and the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) have agreed that contraception is a critical preventive service for women. HHS felt that birth control was so important to women’s health and well-being that the agency included it in a set of services that all new insurance plans must offer without copays or other out-of-pocket costs to make preventive healthcare more accessible to more women. And yet, unfortunately, a religious exemption for the contraceptive benefit was also included, allowing religious institutions to opt out of providing the birth control benefit to their workers.
Many anti-family planning organizations and religious leaders are calling for this refusal clause to be expanded, to encompass any religiously affiliated organization (such a hospital system, university, elementary school, or social service agency) whose leaders don’t believe in birth control.
If expanded, millions of women like me would be denied their right to access affordable contraception, simply based on where they work. Their personal views, needs, and right to make health care decisions for themselves will be disregarded, in favor of their bosses’ religious views. A single question would rise to the top of their decision list if they need access to prescription birth control: Even though I’m Jewish (or Christian, or Muslim), does my office agree with my desire to use family planning?
Working now at a faith-based non-profit, I understand the need for similar organizations to nurture and preserve their religious identities. But an organization and institution does not have a conscience, and the impact of denying access to preventive care will have a real impact on women who do. I felt comfortable taking control of my reproductive health as a young Jewish woman when I started taking birth control, and I hope this option is open to women like me for years to come. I hope the president does not expand the religious refusal clause. Won’t you join me in urging him to stand strong for women’s access to birth control?
Join the conversation and share why you think employers shouldn’t be able to determine contraceptive health care coverage options with the tag #bossmybirthcontrol.
This post is part of the #HERVotes blog carnival. Read more from our partner organizations:
Fight Against an Expanded Religious Exemption that Denies Birth Control Coverage- Dren Asselmeier, Center for Inquiry on Campus
Latinas urge Obama Administration to Support Birth Control Access For All Women- Rebecca Pleitez, National Latina Institute for Reproductive Health
Conscience Clause: Preserving Morality or Creating Immorality?- Liz Beaulac, National Women’s Law Center
Sad Reality: New President, Same Fight- Stephanie Drahan, National Women’s Law Center
Make the Promise of Preventative Care in the ACA Real for All Women- The Wisconsin Alliance for Women’s Health
Calling On President Obama to Demonstrate His Respect for Women- Amy Allina, Raising Women’s Voices for the Health Care We Need
The Catholic Church Wasn’t on My Ballot: What’s Next for President Obama and Birth Control - Abigail Collazo, Fem 2.0
What is So Wrong With Abstinence Education? – Kat Sabine – the Bitch in the house
Take Action: Don’t Let the Catholic Church Deny Birth Control Coverage to Millions – Holly L. Derr, Ms. Magazine
Is Obama Caving to Bishops out of Misplaced “Gratitude”? – Holly L. Derr, Ms. Magazine
The Other 99% – Cecile Richards, Planned Parenthood Action Fund, blogging on Huffington Post
A Message About Birth Control from the 71% – Meghan Shalvoy, Feminist Majority Foundation
The Other 99%: Will Obama Betray Them? - Carole Joffe, RHRealityCheck
Washington Post’s Gerson Ignores Catholics’ Opinions To Accuse The Obama Administration Of “Anti-Catholic Bias”- M.F., Media Matters
Right-Wing Media Twist Pelosi’s “Conscience” Comment To Claim She “Bash[ed] Catholics”- C.R., Media Matters
Fox & Friends Hypes Gerson’s Op-Ed To Accuse Obama Of Being “Anti-Catholic”- Media Matters
Women’s Basic Health Coverage Is Not For Sale- Miri Cypers, Jewish Women International
Tell Obama to Protect Birth Control- Maureen Shaw, sherights
Tell President Obama All Women Need Affordable Birth Control- Judy Waxman, National Women’s Law Center
My Employer Shouldn’t Control My Contraception Decisions- Leila Abolfazli, National Women’s Law Center
Blog Carnival: #HERVotes against the Bishops- Heather Prescott, Knitting Clio
Should Catholic Bishops Have the Right to Control Your Life?- Janet Hill, Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW)
An Open Letter to President Obama- National Organization for Women