Bishops Lead Way to Deny Women Birth Control
New York, NY (February 11, 2013) – On Friday, February 1st, the Obama administration announced revised rules for religiously-affiliated institutions and adherence to the Affordable Care Act mandate requiring insurance coverage for contraception. The rules create an exemption for churches and some other groups, while creating a broader accommodation so that religiously-affiliated institutions like Catholic universities and hospitals don’t have to pay directly for contraceptive coverage.
In a letter to the editor appearing in Saturday’s New York Times, NOW-NYC deputy director Jean Bucaria wrote, “We should not trade away the health and individual liberties of the vast majority of American women who will use birth control at some point in their lives to quell a misdirected debate about religious freedom. The employees who use birth control have a right to their religious freedom, too.”
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is leading the charge against the mandate, despite the compromise. In a statement, Cardinal Timothy Dolan outlined that the bishops will continue to push for even private employers to have the ability to reject offering insurance coverage for contraception on the basis of “conscience.”
NOW-NYC President Sonia Ossorio says, “The bishops are out of touch with the ordinary people they claim to represent. Catholic voices are not being heard and are not being respected by the bishops who are lobbying Congress and the President to limit access to birth control.”
After an arduous review process, the Institute of Medicine recommended that all FDA-approved methods of contraception be covered without cost-sharing as a key preventive service for women. The recommendations were subsequently adopted by the Health and Human Services administration. All of the recommended measures for women’s health met strict criteria that there be strong medical and scientific evidence of the benefits of the service as well as a demonstrated impact on the health and well-being of both individuals and the larger population.
Contraception supports and improves the health outcomes of women and children, by enabling women to plan the spacing and timing of their pregnancies. It is also used to address myriad health issues including the prevention of ovarian cysts or endometrial and ovarian cancers.
Twenty-eight states already have some form of a contraception mandate in place, and many religiously-affiliated institutions have been providing health insurance plans that cover contraception for years.
The National Organization for Women is the nation’s largest organization working to advance women’s rights and improve women’s lives. The New York City Chapter of NOW, founded in 1966, is the largest chapter in the country with 5,000 members locally and 35,000 statewide. NOW-NYC works to promote women’s reproductive rights, secure women’s economic empowerment, and end violence and discrimination against women.
Contact: Brielle Nalence 212-627-9895