by Jen Wang, Policy Associate, NARAL Pro-Choice America
President Obama’s decision to make sure health plans cover birth control without a copay was one of the most significant advances for women’s health in decades. Now, most American women will have health insurance that covers contraception, regardless of where they work. The new policy is long overdue, and the public overwhelmingly supports it.
Predictably, the usual suspects among anti-contraception groups have launched an all-out war in opposition.
As unfortunate as that is, it’s not much of a surprise. But here’s something you might not know. The organization leading the opposition, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, doesn’t just want an exception to the policy for religious-affiliated companies like hospitals and universities.
In an unguarded moment, the group admitted today that it wants a boss at any company to be able to deny his employees a health plan with contraception. Including, apparently, fast-food franchises.
You read that right. Anthony Picarello, an official with the Catholic bishops, told USA Today that he’s outraged because the new birth-control policy will cover, well, employees at regular businesses.
“If I quit this job and opened a Taco Bell, I’d be covered by the mandate,” Picarello said.
So the groups that oppose this policy like to frame their opposition as concern about “religious discrimination,” but what they really want is to allow any boss, even the owner of a fast-food chain, to be able to deny his employees a health plan that covers birth control.
Last I checked, Taco Bell isn’t a place of worship. The owner of your local Burger King isn’t holding sermons. If Congress allows groups like the Catholic bishops to roll back the new birth-control policy, then anyone who owns a McDonald’s franchise could decide whether his employees get contraceptive coverage.
So let’s be clear. No matter what the other side says, this debate isn’t about religious freedom; it’s about whether your boss, any boss, can decide whether his employees get a health plan that covers contraception. And the 99 percent of American women (and 98 percent of Catholic women) who use birth control won’t stand for that.
Cross-posted with NARAL’s Blog for Choice
Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.