The debate about making it mandatory for institutions to include contraception as part of the health-benefits package they offer their employees is like a dialogue of the deaf.
The Catholic Church and the Republicans see it as an attack on religion, because religious universities and hospitals-unlike churches-can’t refuse to cover reproductive services for women on moral grounds. On the other hand, the Democrats, doctors and women’s organizations see this attitude as an attack against women’s rights to control their bodies. Both sides keep arguing their positions like a broken record, completely disregarding the other side’s position and preventing any kind of communication between them.
We think the heart of the matter is the right of employees to expect standard medical coverage, laws that are not subjective and compliance with the law.
A case in point is the recent Blunt amendment, which was rejected, despite the fact it had the support of 48 senators. The measure would have allowed any employer to refuse to cover whichever medical services it saw as morally objectionable.
Those who defend women are right when what’s being called objectionable are birth control pills and other medical services related to reproduction. However, this amendment could have included vaccinations, if the employer considers them dangerous.
It is absurd that everyone can interpret compliance with a law as they see fit and deny their employees work benefits.
The issue here is ethical and legal, but also electoral. The GOP’s desire to exploit this conflict has served to falsely label Obama as an enemy of religion and maintain health care reform as a controversial issue and not what it really is: a necessary expansion of health care coverage for Americans.