Controversy Still Plagues Obama Birth Control Mandate
While most religious groups chide the Obama Administration’s new birth control mandate, some Peoria residents are calling it a blessing in disguise.
Much to the chagrin of several faith-based groups, the White House Health and Human Services Department (HHS), in an effort to improve healthcare for women, introduced a mandate requiring employers to provide employee health insurance that includes access to contraception.
In response to the outcry from religious organizations that question how much the proposal infringes upon religious freedom, the Obama Administration is allowing a number of faith-based groups to be exempt from the controversial mandate, proposing instead that third-party companies administer free coverage for self-insured religious organizations. The Administration’s newest offer allows religious groups to decide which organizations are indeed “religious” and therefore may opt out of the mandate. Church leaders and others have argued that the birth-control coverage mandate violates the First Amendment’s bar against the “free exercise” of religion and also violates the 1993 Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
The mandate is currently under deliberation.
Choosing What’s Best
While the majority of religious leaders oppose the mandate, a small facet of Peoria residents—both religious and non-religious—aren’t looking for a way out. In fact, some say they are grateful for the proposed rule that would cover birth control as part of employee insurance plans. Most are low-income families that cannot afford to have several children but simultaneously cannot pay stringent contraception costs.
“I believe in a woman’s right to choose and have always advocated the use of contraception,” says Sherry Peterson. “I have three small children now, and I work part-time. My husband was recently laid off from his job. Money is tight, so it’s nice when you can get insurance to cover what you can’t afford. I am in full support of the President’s mandate.”
“I am grateful to live in a country where we have freedom of choice and can respect one another’s decisions either to use birth control or not,” says Roberta, a Tazewell County resident. I don’t think people should be penalized either way. One of the beauties of democracy is being able to choose what is best for you. The mandate was a smart move.”
Although leaders in the Catholic Church oppose the use of contraceptives, a large percentage of Catholics use birth control and favor having the option of whether or not to purchase it.
“I am Catholic and I started using birth control after my second child because my husband and I didn’t want a large family,” says Paige, a Peoria resident. “My older relatives are also Catholic, and they never approved of using contraception, but I think in this day and age it’s good to have a choice, and it’s wise to have a choice. So, I support Obama’s mandate even though I do vote Republican.”
Monitoring Your Health
Although focus has largely been around the use of contraceptives for birth control, doctors sometimes prescribe birth control pills for individuals with health issues, such as cysts and tumors. According to WomensHealth.gov, about 20 percent to 80 percent of women develop fibroid tumors by the time they reach age 50. Fibroids are most common in women in their 40s and early 50s. Low-dose birth control pills do not make fibroids grow and can help control heavy bleeding.
Birth control pills can also be used to treat women who have recurrent ovarian cysts, according to webmd.com. Studies have shown women who use high-dose estrogen and progestin birth control pills have a modestly decreased risk of developing functional ovarian cysts. Some local residents believe striking down the mandate would violate employees’ right to choose what works best for their health.
“I’ve never had any type of health complications, but I know if I did I would want to have the option of using birth control pills as treatment and the comfort of knowing that my treatment is covered by insurance,” says Sarah Shipley. “I’ve always thought the mandate was a good idea. I support it.”