The Ethical Debate of Free Contraception and Birth Control

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The Ethical Debate of Free Contraception and Birth Control

If you watch or read the news today, you will find that there are many ethical and political issues that plague the United States. Many of these issues involve politicians debating over what is right or wrong for the country. One issue that particularly caught my attention was the huge debate over President Obama’s Health Care Reform Law requiring insurance plans to provide women with free contraception and birth control. The ethical issue that it presents is that many religious institutions and employers feel that it infringes on their constitutional rights of religious freedom, and they are opposing this law because of their religious views regarding birth control. The ethical problem that it can create is forcing religiously affiliated employers, like Catholic hospitals and universities, to provide their female employees with insurance that provides free contraception, which is against their religious beliefs. The ethical debate over free contraception and birth control for women has now become a political debate over religious liberties versus women’s health. By examining this law with the various ethical theories, it can be proven that this law can be beneficial to all parties involved, and should be supported to improve the overall state of health care for all women.

This specific law in question is actually a mandate in President Obama’s Health Care Reform under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Under this mandate, women will be provided with access to free contraception and birth control through their insurance, provided by their employers. Those who oppose this law are people who religiously disagree with contraception and birth control, and argue that it is a violation of religious freedom, and their religious beliefs. In our text, the first amendment is stated as the following, “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” (Mosser, 2010, 2.3). Those that oppose this law argues that it is in violation of their constitutional rights because the mandate requires all employers, including religiously-affiliated employers, to provide their female employees with insurance that offers free contraception. In an article entitled “Obama vs. the Church,” the debate is put in more simple terms. “The requirement runs counter to the teachings of the Catholic Church. While churches themselves are exempt, a huge swath of Catholic institutional life, from Catholic hospitals to Catholic schools, has just been told by the government to practice what it does not preach” (Lowry, 2012). Catholic leaders, in particular, have argued that such a mandate will ultimately force them to provide free contraception, which is against their religious practices. Another article that showed the opposition from Catholic bishops, “The bishops argue that the mandate would force religious institutions to pay for insurance coverage of contraceptives, including some that can cause abortions, and sterilizations” (Roewe & Ryan, 2012). However, these views should not be the only views taken into account when examining this issue ethically. This issue affects two parties in particular; the employers and the employees. So now, let us discuss the views of those who support this law.

The other side of this debate affects the female employees of such religiously-affiliated institutions, or women in general. With this mandate, women will be provided with contraception and birth control, free of charge from their employer’s insurance providers. Many supporters for this mandate argue that it is less about religious freedoms and more about women’s health. An article in the National Catholic Reporter states the following, “The mandate for women's health services — contraception is just one part of it — was recommended by the Institute of Medicine. Giving women, especially poor women, greater access to health services...
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