EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA

December 18, 2013

Letter: Birth control mandate violates religious freedom

The Eagle-Tribune

---- — To the editor:

In regards to Mr. Robert Burdin’s letter to the editor, Mr. Burdin misses the true point of the Health and Human Services mandate and it’s intolerance for religious freedom, the very foundation on which our country was built.

I am a Catholic, quite a bit younger than Mr. Burdin and Cardinal Dolan. In my marriage I have used birth control. No Catholic priest has ever prevented me from picking up my birth control prescription at CVS or accosted my husband in the “family planning” isle of Target. Although I have used birth control and am comfortable with the choice I have made, I have deep respect for couples that “accepted children lovingly” without restrictions. I wouldn’t damn their choice in an attempt to validate mine.

I refuse to be fooled by the lie that the Catholic Church is preventing women’s access to “health care” by refusing to provide insurance coverage for birth control, abortifacient drugs including the morning after pill, artificial sterilization and abortions. The fact that 98 percent of Catholics use or have used some form of artificial birth control is often stated as an argument for the Church to accept the reality of its members and change accordingly. In the next breath the same people will claim that the Church is preventing access to birth control. What? How can this argument hold true if 98 percent are using it?

I am perplexed by Sandra Fluke, who attends a private college at a cost of $60,000 per year and argues that it’s someone else’s responsibility to provide her with birth control in order to engage in recreational sex. I am too intelligent to believe that the ability to engage in uncommitted sex is the last remaining obstacle in gender equality. I refuse to buy into the belief that recreational sex is good for women’s health, mental or physical.

As a practical matter, birth control is very cheap. In fact, it is handed out for free in public schools and health clinics all over our country. To believe the lie that this is about access to birth control is simply ignoring the plain facts.

When Hillary Clinton as first lady introduced her health care plan even she had a “conscience clause” allowing religious groups with objections based in theological doctrine to opt out, without penalty. Mr. Obama’s plan, even though he publicly promised to allow for such a “conscience clause” in a speech at Notre Dame, has no such option. But, the end justifies the means so why would the American public care if our president went back on his word in order to achieve his legacy.

The omitting of a conscience clause is an unabashed attempt to limit freedom of religion in the United States. In fact, there is a movement to replace freedom of religion with freedom of worship. The change, if allowed, would be more than semantics. There would be far reaching legal consequences for our nation and its faith based organizations including hospitals, schools, nursing homes, homeless shelters and the like. During the Spanish Civil War, left wing Republicans launched a campaign of persecution against the Spanish Catholic Church. The poet Wystan Hugh Auden arrived in Barcelona to find the city’s churches closed and its priests exiled or killed. Auden wrote, “To my astonishment this discovery left me profoundly shocked and disturbed. I could not help acknowledge that however I had consciously ignored and rejected the Church for years, the existence of churches and what went on in them had all the time been very important to me.” Atheists and believers alike would be wise to consider the role of faith based organizations in our society and the implications if harsh non-compliance penalties close their doors.

Lisa Jaskelovinski