Religious People Should Be Worried About The Birth Control Mandate

by Naseem Jamnia
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One of the great hallmarks of the Affordable Care Act was the mandate that insurance plans are required make contraception affordable or free to patients. The Supreme Court later gave certain employers the right to refuse birth control based on religious objections, and now, a leaked Trump regulation would doom birth control access for even more people seeking it. While some religious individuals might applaud the decision, the government interference in family planning should concern them.

The current proposal draft, called "Coverage of Certain Preventive Services Under the Affordable Care Act," says that any company who has any moral or religious objections to providing birth control, not just private companies or religiously affiliated organizations, can apply for exemption from offering birth control coverage.

It's no secret that contraception and Christianity are usually at odds. For example, the Catholic church has a complicated history with birth control, but ultimately believes that the decision to have children must be a careful one, so as not to burden the family, community, or larger population — something Pope John Paul II called "responsible parenthood." The point was that family planning is strictly between the couple and God, based on the couple's situation. The government has no place in this equation.

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Catholics are not the only ones who value family planning. Protestant beliefs have just as varied a history. Jesuit sociologist John L. Thomas wrote that some theological traditions emphasize that the loving relationship — and, therefore, sex — between a couple is equally as important as procreation itself.

According to the Center for American Progress, many Christians support contraception. According to CAP, it is not just individuals but various religious denominations that believe it is a decision the couple must make, without outside interference. Furthermore, according to a study done by the Guttmacher Institute, the majority of religious Americans use contraception in some form. According to their study, 99 percent of all sexually active women — including 98 percent of Catholics — have used a form of contraception other than natural family planning.

Indeed, there are pro-Christian resources on contraception. Catholics for Choice is a non-profit organization that believes Catholicism "supports a woman’s moral and legal right to follow her conscience in matters of sexuality and reproductive health." The website Christian Family Planning gives information on varied birth control methods to Christian couples so that they can make their own informed decision based on their individual faiths. The organization specifically says that they give this information to honor the biblical idea that the body is a temple. Nowhere does it discuss government or employer involvement.

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But while the country is still roughly 70 percent Christian, the religious landscape of the United States is changing, according to the Pew Research Center. It reports that millennials especially — who comprise a large portion of those who are of child-rearing age — are declining in religious affiliation.

It does not make sense that Christians should make decisions regarding contraception access for everyone else, even others who are religious — especially given that the other majority religions support the use of contraception. Both reform and orthodox Judaism permit the use of birth control, and ironically, for a religion deemed so restrictive in the West, contraception is also allowed in Islam.

All of the religions that allow contraception explicitly state that it is the couple's decision. Even within different Christian faiths, family planning is a decision made given the couple's circumstances and with the will of God. Nowhere in these scenarios is the government or, by extension, one's employer given any say.

No matter what one's personal beliefs on contraception, the government has no place in that decision, and therefore no role in family planning. If this new proposal is made official, the government has interfered in just that.