The campaign “I’m a Fan of Birth Control” launched today, involving hundreds of clergy, activists and religious leaders from a variety of backgrounds aimed at demonstrating widespread support among people of faith for access to birth control and contraception.
The Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice (RCRC) began the initiative and believe access to birth control should be a priority, covered by health plans and insurers as preventative medical care.
“The Catholic hierarchy and some religious extremist groups have turned the inclusion of contraception coverage in the health care law into a public battle about their ‘religious freedom.’ The opposite is the case. They are using religion as a cover to discriminate against women,” said Reverend Alethea Smith-Withers of the RCRC Board of Directors.
“While we respect that there are differing religious views on contraception, the fact is that religiously affiliated employers that are objecting to covering birth control in their health plans are publicly funded, serve the public, and employ people of all faiths. They must comply with the law,” she said.
Among the denominations listed on the website of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice as taking official positions favoring the use of birth control and contraception are The Episcopal Church, Presbyterian Church, United Church of Christ, The United Methodist Church, the Unitarian Universalist Association of Congregations, and Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist Judaism.
Following an earlier announcement this year by Department of Health and Human Services that contraceptive services would be covered by insurance policies under healthcare reform, leaders of a many prominent Christian, Jewish and Muslim religious groups signed a group statement in support of the provision.
Among those who signed were Presidents and Executive Directors of groups Catholics for Choice, Central Conference of American Rabbis, Jewish Women International, Muslims for Progressive Values, Women’s League for Conservative Judaism, Methodist Federation for Social Action, and Episcopal Women’s Caucus. Twenty-nine groups in all supported the following statement:
“We stand with President Obama and Secretary Sebelius in their decision to reaffirm the importance of contraceptive services as essential preventive care for women under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and to assure access under the law to American women, regardless of religious affiliation. We respect individuals’ moral agency to make decisions about their sexuality and reproductive health without governmental interference or legal restrictions. We do not believe that specific religious doctrine belongs in health care reform – as we value our nation’s commitment to church-state separation. We believe that women and men have the right to decide whether or not to apply the principles of their faith to family planning decisions, and to do so they must have access to services. The Administration was correct in requiring institutions that do not have purely sectarian goals to offer comprehensive preventive health care. Our leaders have the responsibility to safeguard individual religious liberty and to help improve the health of women, their children, and families. Hospitals and universities across the religious spectrum have an obligation to assure that individuals’ conscience and decisions are respected and that their students and employees have access to this basic health care service. We invite other religious leaders to speak out with us for universal coverage of contraception. ”
More information on “I’m a Fan of Birth Control” can be found at www.fanofbc.org.