Dating back to 1850 BCE, birth control remains a genius concept and implementation, necessary to the carrying capacity of our environment. Although birth control has proved to be a positive collection of methods and techniques to hinder fertilization and pregnancy, it has its opponents--mostly consisting of religious contenders. Historically, Roman Catholicism has prohibited the use of any type of “artificial contraception.” Catholicism solely advocates Natural Family Planning (NFP), relying on symptom-based, calendar-based, and lactational amenorrhea methods to gage fertility and infertility. These predictive methods of contraception elucidates the periods of time in which women are the most likely to become impregnated, allowing partners to know when to engage in sex and when to refrain.
Birth control has always been a controversial issue, sparked by political flames such as the Comstock Acts in the 1870s and Roe vs. Wade in 1973. Now, a new political fire has ignited over Barack Obama’s new legislation requiring most health plans to cover recommended women’s preventive services without copays or deductibles. Organizations affiliated with the Catholic church, such as hospitals and schools, claim that they are receiving no exemption from this new law. Catholic employees argue that such ruling constitutes forcing members of the Catholic church, whom have always opposed contraceptives, to offer birth control or pay for it in health plans. The church affirms that such insurance coverage could include “abortion-inducing” drugs.
The law left the administration to decide which women’s health services to include. This recently finalized law stems from the Affordable Care Act of 2010--what Republican presidential candidates call "Obamacare." “Obamacare” affects the health plans that employers offer their respective employees. The Health and Human Services Department regulations indicate that preventive services must include all birth control approved by the Food and Drug Administration as well as sterilization. FDA-approved birth control is very inclusive, providing every preventive technique from physical methods such as condoms, diaphragms, cervical caps, and intrauterine devices (IUDs) to hormonal methods such as the pill, implants, and hormone shots. In addition, it includes emergency contraceptives such as Plan B, which prevents fertilization of an egg or the implantation of a fertilized egg.
Obama's decision to require most employers to fund birth control and insurers to provide it at no cost has created a firestorm of disputation. Nevertheless, the chief ruling—that the majority of employers are expected to cover preventive care for women—has actually been a law for over ten years. However, this legitimate point has been completely negated and forgotten in the current controversy, as Republican presidential candidates as well as social conservatives assert that Obama has prompted a “war on religious liberty and the Catholic Church.”
In December 2000, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission contended that companies that offered prescription drugs to their employees but did not offer birth control were in violation of Title VII of the 1964 Civil Rights Act, which impedes prejudice based on sex. The George W. Bush administration didn’t do anything to alter or withdraw this law when it took office the next month, explicating why it is still in effect today. Employers that do not provide prescription coverage in their insurance plans or do not provide insurance at all are exempt, because men and women are treated equally. Though, under the EEOC's interpretation of the law, employers cannot offer preventive care coverage without providing birth control coverage as well.
So why is a law that has been in act for over ten years just now becoming a heated, controversial debate in the political realm? I believe that with the United States presidential election coming up in November, Republican candidates are attempting to tarnish Obama’s name and reputation, making him look like a less desirable candidate for his re-election. In addition, I think that Catholic institutions are being hyper-sensitive to the idea of providing women with preventive care that includes artificial contraceptives. However, according to a nationwide poll of 2,242 U.S. adults surveyed online in September 2005 by Harris Interactive, 90% of Catholics supported the use of birth control and contraceptives. Since 2005, numbers have risen. Our society is too progressive and birth control is too practical to ignore. The reality is that most women, Catholic or not, utilize oral contraceptives. I believe that because of the mere fact that our country is being run by a Democratic president that the Catholic establishments are overreacting; why didn’t they express this same reaction when Bush’s administration employed a very similar law? This law harbors more substance than simply offering free birth controls pills; it means offering women health and safety--the precious opportunity to prevent and combat gynecological cancers, sexually transmitted infections, and unplanned pregnancies. Republican or Democratic, religious or not, the incomparable value of life should always overlook a mere political controversy.