Letter to the editor: Birth control debate is about women’s rights

These past few weeks have been marked by a very heated debate between Democrats and Republicans over Obama’s new health care mandate, which requires religious organizations like the Catholic Church to provide contraceptives to its employees.

While the idea that religious organizations shouldn’t be made to use contraceptives certainly holds a lot of substance, the issue is not that at all.

The Republicans and the religious right have been laying into President Obama for the better part of a month now on this issue in some of the most unprofessional ways imaginable (e.g. Rick Santorum accusing him of “phony theology”) on the subject of this new mandate.

However, the Republicans are slanting this by implying that the organizations such as the Catholic Church employ Catholics exclusively. That aside, I think quite a few Catholics don’t take kindly to being portrayed as monolithic. The truth is, this is not, “Catholic bashing,” as some conservatives have labeled it.

This is first and foremost an issue of women’s rights, as birth control is used for much more than contraception.

And for those championing this as an issue of “religious freedom,” I wonder – when Muslims were trying to build a Mosque in New York City, why were no conservative politicians pontificating on their behalf?

The religious right only has a compelling interest in protecting religious freedom if it benefits Christians, and such a restricted definition of “religious freedom” is impotent and offensive to boot when it comes to implementing actual policy.

-Ian Zulick

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