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Contraceptive Coverage: Whose Religious Freedom Is It?

February 12, 2012

By Amanda Marcotte from RH Reality Check

When Catholic organizations use their employees’ economic dependence as leverage to force pregnancy on them, no matter how unwilling they are to be pregnant, they deprive those women of their basic right to believe what they wish on matters of faith. Religious freedom is primarily an individual right. When an organization’s beliefs come in conflict with individual beliefs, the individual right to freedom of religion must triumph over organizational claims. Doing otherwise is allowing organizations to create a government-supported authority to discriminate and control on the basis of religion, depriving individuals of basic religious rights.

This isn’t about Catholics vs. non-Catholics. Many Catholics believe that contraception is right and moral, and they have an absolute First Amendment right to do so. The government can’t be in the position of telling people that their definition of the faith is more “right” than someone else’s. The government simply has to step in if institutions are using discriminatory practices in order to coerce people away from their freedom of conscience. Financial coercion should certainly count. If the Catholic Church doesn’t want women to use contraception, they are perfectly free to make their arguments, and if they’re good enough, maybe they’ll convince some women. That persuasion isn’t working suggests something about the strength of the arguments. That their arguments can’t hold up on their own doesn’t mean that they should get special dispensation to introduce financial coercion into the equation.

Click here to read the full article.

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