As you may have heard, Secretary of Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius announced last Friday that not only will regulations under the Affordable Care Act require all insurance plans to cover contraception and other women’s preventive care without co-pay or deductible, but religiously affiliated schools, hospitals and organizations will have to comply as well. In response to this, the Conference of Catholic Bishops is leading a major backlash against the Obama administration. As part of this, they have published numerous anti-woman Letters to the Editor in major newspapers across the country – with no response from young women.
This is unacceptable and we must take action and demand equal representation on their pages.
Here are some helpful tips and resources to assist you as begin writing letters from your campus leaders or on behalf of your feminist activist group on campus. Don’t forget to send us your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org – we’ll be putting them together in a blog post!!
- Consider writing major print news outlets like The Washington Post, USA Today, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and the New York Times. Local papers are good too, but for this action we really want to get your letters onto the pages of the national print media. If you want to try a different paper, simply search for the newspaper name followed by “letter to the editor” and the first hit you get should have instructions. We also suggest that you poke around their articles from the last week to see what they have already published on the subject.
- Check out these tips from the ACLU on writing a successful Letter to the Editor.
- Be sure to keep it somewhat short – most LTEs are only about 250 words or they won’t be printed!
- If you don’t feel comfortable writing as an individual, you can also sign it on behalf of your campus or activist group.
- Try and reference op-eds or misleading information from previous articles in that newspaper, such as these from USA Today and The Washington Post (which is especially bad because it’s from their editorial board – eek!).
- Personal stories of those affected by these regulations are always great!
- Suggested messages to get you started…
- Public opinion is clearly on the side of open access to birth control to prevent unplanned pregnancy, and yet the discourse is being dominated by a handful of powerful Catholic Bishops.
- 99% of sexually active women have used birth control during their lives, including 98% of Catholic women.
- 75% of American voters support access to birth control.
- Birth control is the most common prescription for women ages 18-44 and is used on average for 30 years of a woman’s life, at an average co-pay of $15-50 per month.
- For every $1 spent in public funding for family planning services, $4 is saved on other services.
- About 49% of pregnancies in the United States are unintended. The personal, economic, and emotional costs to women associated with unintended pregnancy are immeasurable.
- In the face of all scientific evidence, women have a right to act moral agents and decision makers in their own lives without unnecessary barriers to access. These regulations under the Affordable Care Act will eliminate these barriers for millions of women.
- Students, clients and employees of religious organizations and schools are not required to be followers of the religion, so why should their health care be dictated by its rules? And judging by the fact that 98% of Catholic women use birth control at some point in their lives, even their followers need access to birth control.
- The Catholic Bishops are using their influence to dictate the law of the land based on their religious principles without regard for separation for church and state. Religious freedom is an individual’s right to practice whatever form of religious they so choose, not for the leaders of a religious institution to manipulate our federal laws and regulations.
- Young women take contraception for a variety of reasons aside from preventing pregnancy including treating endometriosis and polycystic ovarian syndrome, preventing cancer, and relief for irregular/painful periods.