Take Action: President Obama is on the brink of a decision that could throw access to basic birth control under the bus. Under intense lobbying from the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, the president is poised to potentially expand an already sweeping refusal clause that allows employers to deny birth control coverage under the Affordable Care Act.
Background: The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is twisting President Obama's arm with the following decree: Amend the interim final rule from the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) that requires most health insurance plans to cover contraception.
In a major victory for women's rights, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) affirmed contraception as basic health care earlier this year, and HHS agreed, issuing an interim final rule that would have health insurance plans cover contraception with no co-pay.
And the bishops already got what they wanted then: HHS crafted a loophole just for the bishops, allowing many religious institutions to take decisions away from women who depend on them for health insurance coverage.
Now the bishops have moved on to the next step in their war against the pill: They want to take it away from women who attend primarily secular colleges and universities with a religious affiliation; and those who depend on other primarily secular institutions with a religious affiliation, such as hospitals, for health insurance.
As recognized by nearly everyone but the bishops, contraception is basic medical care:
» The EEOC recognizes denial of contraceptive coverage as sex discrimination in health insurance plans.
» Access to birth control decreases maternal and infant mortality.
» 99 percent of sexually active people have used contraception.
» In fact, 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraception.
» Moreover, many Catholic institutions currently cover contraception.
President Obama needs to hear from those who do not represent the narrow view of the bishops (who publicly refer to offering contraceptive coverage to individual women in the United States as an attempt to "neuter religion") -- he needs to hear from you now.