Who should have control over a woman’s decision to use contraception: Her or her employer? According to Senator Marco Rubio, it should be your employer.
Last month, in response to President Obama’s decision that all women should have access to contraception free of cost, Senator Rubio introduced a new bill that would allow any employer to sidestep the new requirement, whether they’re a religious institution or a for-profit company.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell joined Rubio in support, saying “They don’t have the authority … to tell someone in this country, or some organization in this country, what their religious beliefs are.” But, apparently, employers should have the authority to tell women what health care they can have.
Let’s dig in a little deeper.
Rubio’s bill is called the Religious Freedom Restoration Act of 2012, and he claims it’s a “common-sense bill that simply says the government can’t force religious organizations to abandon the fundamental tenets of their faith because the government says so.”
But here’s the kicker: This bill would allow any organization to exempt themselves from the new rules, whether it’s a law office, retail store, or restaurant. So the only freedom it’s protecting is that of employers, and not the women employed by them who could be of any faith.
Here’s Rubio’s solution, in his bill, for the 99% women who use contraception; “If an employee wants birth control, that worker could simply pay for it themselves or just choose to work elsewhere.” That’s code for “You’re on your own.”
It’s just another extreme, GOP attempt to try to roll back a woman’s right to make her own health decisions.
As a contrast, the President’s plan on contraception, and the recent accommodation to the new rule, strikes a balance between religious freedom and protecting women’s right to meet their health care needs.
Besides family planning, contraception also helps some women stay healthy. It’s used to treat or prevent many health conditions, including ovarian cysts, endometriosis, pelvic inflammatory disease, uterine fibroid tumors, abnormal bleeding, pain associated with ovulation, and anemia.
Under the President’s accommodation, all women will have access to contraception free of charge. And if a religious organization opposes providing it, the cost will be picked up by private insurance companies. It’s win-win cost-wise, since more women using contraception saves money for private insurers, and it’s a win-win overall: It allows employers to adhere to their beliefs while not restricting access to health care.
Here’s the bottom line: President Obama’s contraception rule is based in the belief that all women who choose to use contraception should have the right to access it.
Senator Rubio and the bill’s other sponsors believe women shouldn’t have that right—and instead, employers should be able to make these decisions for their employees.
The contrast couldn’t be more clear.
Spread the word—and make sure that when Rubio and others claim to do things in the name of religious freedom, folks know the truth behind what they’re actually trying to do.