The Obama Health Care legislation has come under attack on a new front: that hospitals and universities and other institutions connected to religious groups, other than actual church or synagogue properties, are being required to provide contraceptive and abortion services to women who work for those institutions, outraging the Catholic Church, Orthodox Jews, Mormons, and Evangelical Christian groups that oppose such practices.
An exemption for churches and synagogues has not been enough to appease these religious groups, and it threatens the support of these groups for the Obama re-election campaign, but if the Obama Administration abandons the rights of women of all religious persuasions and denies them such services, they could also lose support among women who want these services covered.
It is clear that a majority of Catholic women ignore the teachings of their own church, while it is not clear that the same is true for Orthodox Jews, Mormons, and Evangelical Christians.
So this presents a quandary for Obama, and is being called an attack on religion, rather than an issue of an attack on women’s health and basic human rights to control their own bodies. Rather than have to follow the teachings of groups that are dominated by men, many millions of women want to determine their own futures, and not be controlled by their employers as to what health coverage they have.
The likelihood is that Obama will cave in on this to the religious groups, but a true profile in courage would be to make it clear there is religious freedom in this country, but it should not dictate health services available to women in the name of religious liberty.
One does not have to accept contraceptives or pursue abortion, but women should have the freedom, no matter what their religion or no religion, to pursue their own freedom, separate from organized religious institutions trying to control their destiny. They should not be required to quit their employment to have freedom of choice.