Over the past few years we have seen countless employers seek a so-called religious exemption from providing insurance coverage for contraception. What followed has been a tough ongoing debate between religious liberty of employers and the individual rights of women. The debate lead to a number of solutions and it is now possible for some for-profit businesses and a variety of non-profit entities with religious affiliations to receive exemptions from the contraception mandate on account of religious beliefs. While this restricts women’s access to affordable contraception, most employers must still follow the mandate. Case settled, right? Wrong.
A federal judged ruled this week that employers who provide insurance coverage do not need to provide that coverage for contraception if they morally oppose it. On paper, the religious freedom argument works; providing coverage for contraception might violate a person’s faith. But moral freedom? An employer could morally argue that women should only have sex when trying to have a baby and otherwise should abstain. An employer could morally argue that taking any prescription medication is not natural and wholly oppose it. An employer could morally argue that women should not be employed in the labor force. These are ridiculous grounds on which to oppose a law. How many other laws do you see with moral exemptions?
Millions of women across the United States rely on various methods of contraception to prevent unplanned pregnancy and help plan when to begin or expand their family. Millions rely on methods like the birth control pill to regulate their periods and alleviate related health concerns unrelated to pregnancy. The MORAL action would be to allow these women to improve their health. The MORAL action would be to help these women prevent unplanned and unwanted pregnancy. The MORAL action would be to allow women to choose when they’re ready to have a family.
Boston Globe(Boston, MA)
Employers do not need to provide insurance coverage for contraception even if their objections are moral rather than religious, a federal judge ruled Monday, in favor of the group, March for Life. The group opposes methods of contraception that it says can amount to abortion although many scientists disagree.
Pope Francis announced Tuesday that all priests will have the authority to absolve the Catholic sin of abortion during the upcoming Extraordinary Jubilee Year of Mercy, which will begin December 8.
The Hill (Washington, DC)
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) says that defunding Planned Parenthood will have to wait for a new president in 2017.
Kitap Sun (Kitap, OH)
In Ohio, new family planning clinic that offers abortion services opens, even as anti-choice members of the state legislature push for additional extreme restrictions on reproductive health care.
New study shows a leading stem cell therapy could improve mobility in patients paralyzed by a spinal cord injury. The therapy is the first product derived from human embryos to be tested on humans and its success is a key step toward proving that embryonic stem cell research could cure diseases such as cancer, Parkinson’s and serious health conditions such immune deficiencies, stroke and spinal injuries.
The Salt Lake Tribune (Salt Lake City, UT)
Anti-choice Utah Governor Gary Herbert has ordered all state agencies to stop providing federal funds to the Planned Parenthood Association of Utah.
Lincoln Journal Star (Lincoln, NE)
The political storm resulting from undercover videos targeting Planned Parenthood appears to be stirring up Nebraska’s anti-choice movement as five state lawmakers already have begun discussing new anti-choice legislation to propose.
Alaska Dispatch News (Juneau, AK)
A state court judge in Alaska ruled Thursday that an anti-choice law further defining what constitutes a medically necessary abortion for purposes of Medicaid funding is unconstitutional.
New York Times (New York, NY)
Planned Parenthood on Thursday gave congressional leaders and a committee that is investigating allegations of criminality at its clinics an analysis it commissioned concluding that “manipulation” of undercover videos by abortion opponents make those recordings unreliable for any official inquiry.
KOTA News (Rapid City, SD)
A South Dakota program has been awarded a federal grant work with American Indian youth to prevent teen pregnancies. The 2013 teen birth rate in the targeted county, all races, ages 15-19 is 31.4 births for every 1,000 adolescent females and higher for American Indians. This compares to a 2013 national teen birth rate of 26.5 per 1,000 females between the ages of 15 and 19.
Los Angeles Times (Los Angeles, CA)
An anti-choice bill in the Ohio Legislature that would ban a woman from having an abortion solely because of a prenatal diagnosis of Down syndrome is blatantly unconstitutional and probably unenforceable.
The Denver Post (Denver, CO)
Roughly $2 million has been pledged in temporary funding to keep afloat a hot-button Colorado program that provides long-acting reversible contraceptives to low-income and uninsured teenagers and women.
The Hill (Washington, DC)
Planned Parenthood has sent an 11-page letter to congressional leadership that it hopes will “set the record straight” on the fetal tissue controversy, a top official announced Thursday.
Sacramento Bee (Sacramento, CA)
A California state law, passed in 2013 with plans to be implemented in October, gives licensed pharmacists authorization to prescribe self-administered hormonal contraceptives, without the need for a patient to see a physician. This new law is a positive way to expand access to birth control.