2/8/2012: JACPAC sets the record straight on contraceptive decision by President Obama

Statement from JACPAC on President Obama’s Decision to Require Church Institutions to Offer Contraceptive Coverage

February 8, 2012

Whose rights are being abridged? Religious liberty, conscience and morality are not the exclusive domain of the Catholic bishops. Millions of women, Catholic and non-Catholic, elect to use contraception. It is not only legal, it is in some cases advisable from a medical standpoint. For most women, birth control is a common sense matter of economics and personal choice.

     In the Affordable Health Care Act, religious organizations are exempt from providing insurance to cover contraception within a church, synagogue or mosque, if it is contrary to their teachings. It is customary in America to respect the religious beliefs of others and make it easy for them to act according to their beliefs, But a broader exemption that covers universities and hospitals would then trample on  the rights and moral beliefs of millions of women who view contraception differently from the Church. For some of these women, their only access to medical care is in a Catholic Hospital or they may be employed by Catholic universities or hospitals. In those cases, refusal to offer workers contraceptive insurance coverage is employment discrimination, Don't their rights count?

     It is time that we recognize that conscience and morality are essential to most if not all religions, not just to the one that carries the biggest stick. We who consider ourselves broadminded have ceded this point again and again and let a narrow group define morality. Religious liberty belongs  to all of us, not just to the most doctrinaire or the most powerful. Medical care or employment benefits should not be parceled out according to religious preference.

     This latest salvo against women’s reproductive rights has been misunderstood by the public and media. This is religious discrimination by the Church against millions of women, not, as has been repeatedly asserted, persecution by the President against millions of Catholics. For the Catholic Church to be the self-appointed arbiter of right vs. wrong for the rest of us is presumptuous and beyond the scope of their authority. The President made the right decision.

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Joint Action Committee for Political Affairs (JACPAC) is a bipartisan political action committee dedicated to the special relationship between the US and Israel and a social agenda that includes reproductive choice and separation of religion and state. JACPAC supports the election campaigns of US Senate and House candidates who uphold this agenda and maintains an ongoing dialogue with those it helps elect. JACPAC serves as a political resource for the Jewish community, furnishing information about candidates, elections and issues.