Guest Column: Contraceptive mandate benefits nation
Published: Wednesday, March 7, 2012
Updated: Wednesday, July 25, 2012 22:07
The new Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate is an excellent piece of legislation. Considering the state of our economy, adding more poverty-stricken, unprepared or simply unwanted pregnancies to the mix would further cripple our nation.
Neither the Catholic Church nor any other church should have any input on what is made into law unless it explicitly infringes on freedom of religion as guaranteed by the establishment clause of the First Amendment.
As taxpaying citizens, would we rather pay for an increase in the number of children sent into the foster care system or for contraceptive options for women who want them? Babies are expensive; contraceptives are cheap.
Each year, 750,000 teens between ages 15 and 19 become pregnant. We cannot ignore this problem. Abstinence is an effective way to completely prevent pregnancy. However, nearly 13 percent of teens in the U.S. are sexually active by age 15. Wouldn't the money that goes toward placing these children in the foster care system be better spent educating young people? How about toward reducing our national debt? Paying for a woman's contraceptive method is far cheaper than paying for the cost of an unintended or unwanted pregnancy.
Lack of contraception coverage can cause an increase in fees across the board as a healthcare provider must allocate more funds for resulting pregnancies. Simply offering contraceptive options to employees lowers costs. The "Blunt Amendment" is a regressive piece of legislation intended to restrict access to contraceptives for female employees of religiously-affiliated employers by allowing employers to deny health services they morally object to. Just because a woman is employed by a religiously-affiliated establishment does not necessarily mean she shares the employer's religious beliefs. No employer should be able to force their religious beliefs on their employees. An employee should not be denied basic health care coverage because of her employer's beliefs.
In fact, "data shows that 98 percent of sexually experienced women of child-bearing age and who identify themselves as Catholic have used a method of contraception other than natural family planning at some point in their lives," according to the Washington Post.
Birth control is not only taken to prevent unwanted pregnancy, but also utilized to improve women's overall health. Birth control is prescribed to treat ovarian cysts, to reduce the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers and to treat a myriad of other health concerns. Women should not have to explain to their employers their need for coverage of birth control in order to acquire the medicine prescribed by their doctors.
When it comes to freedom of religion, nobody is forcing women who have religious objections to use contraceptives. The Health and Human Services contraceptive mandate merely prevents a Catholic hospital from denying its doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists and all employees of other religions access to free contraceptives. This is the issue in this debate: the rights of a woman and her doctor to choose what is best, rather than having religious officials choose for her.
Athena Mason is a junior biology major.