Sunday, March 04, 2012

Religious Freedom versus Individual Liberty

The Republican primary contestants and some leaders in the Catholic Church claim that the provision requiring religious insitutions who offer healthcare must include coverage for birth control is a violation of religious freedom. The Democratic pundits and several women's groups claim it is a violation of womens' ability to have the personal liberty to guide their reproductive health. They are both wrong.
Health care and health care providers have a sacred duty to provide health care to those they represent. Religious health care providers can choose not to work in heath care sectors which offer services they do not believe in.
Consumers of health care plans can choose not to receive services they do not believe in. Catholic women do not have to take birth control pills even if their insurance plan will pay for them. Just as catholic men do not have to purchase condoms in a drug store if they have a religious objection.
Following the logic of those that cry religious freedom is attacked because an option is made available, drug stores should not be allowed to sell condoms. But what about the religious freedom of those that do not have a moral opposition to birth control?
Following the logic of those that claim this provision restricts womens' ability to choose what is best for their reproductive care, then that assumes all women have an inability to wisely choose where they receive their health care.
An independent solution realizes why we have a separation of church doctrine and state policy. It also realizes that individuals ultimately have the personal ability to make their own choices. The outcome of birth control is that unwanted pregnancies are prevented. The ultimate birth control, according to many religious beliefs (and in practical reality) is abstinance. Objective data shows abstinance only programs in the public sector are inneffective in preventing unwanted pregnancies. The personal teaching of abstinance to family members may be more effective. Health Care policy is, and should remain a public sector decision. How parents weave their religious beliefs into what they teach their children should remain a private matter.
For those that choose birth control, unwanted pregnancies and abortion rates will be lower. This is a policy result that those that argue either position on this topic can be happy about.


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