After decades of public and private debate, a sweeping health care plan was passed by Congress that included provisions for every American to be covered by health care insurance, thus gaining access to basic medical care. Women across the nation cheered when they learned that all forms of contraception were on the list of basic care to be covered without a copay.
When some religious institutions insisted they should be exempt from providing insurance coverage for contraception based upon the "conscience" of the institution, President Obama overcame hostile reactions from the religious right and stood by women, providing that the insurance company will have to pay for it instead of the employer.
We applaud this decision by the President to stick by women and ensure their access to contraception, no matter their employer.
But for those of us in Missouri, the fight is not over! Senator Lamping has proposed a bill that would allow any employer, no matter the nature of business, to claim a religious exemption to providing any particular health insurance coverage based upon their personal religious beliefs.
AND, there is a movement to get a ballot initiative on the November ballot to enshrine this religious exception into our state constitution!
That any employer would claim his/her "conscience" to be more important that the right of individuals to receive equal access to medical care is, quite frankly, unconscionable. We do not accept the premise that employers can hide behind God in order to discriminate against a segment of their employees. There is nothing godly in discrimination.
Contraception is indeed basic health care. 98% of all women use modern forms of contraception during their fertile years. There is nothing more basic to a woman's health than the timing of children. Nor is there anything more basic to her role as a productive employee.
Should where a woman works be the determining factor in whether she is eligible for insurance coverage? Certainly not. Should she face religious discrimination by her employer and be refused this basic care? Unconscionable.
We must all fight back against this ridiculous move to take away our contraception and to grant special privileges to the religious values of the few.