Commentary Religion

The Birth Control Mandate: A Fair Balance of Religious Liberty With Women’s Needs

Judy Waxman

A requirement that health insurance plans cover birth control with no co-pay will take effect in August. Contrary to recent criticism, the new rule balances religious liberty with the need to protect women's health and expand access to needed care.

Published in partnership with the Freedom for All Campaign.

A requirement that health insurance plans cover birth control with no co-pay will take effect in August. Contrary to recent criticism, the new rule balances religious liberty with the need to protect women’s health and expand access to needed care.

The contraceptive coverage rule in the health care law preserves the religious liberty of individuals to make personal medical and moral decisions without interference from anyone, including their employers. The use of birth control among women is nearly universal, and polling released by the Public Religion Research Institute in February found a majority of Americans support contraceptive coverage with no co-pay.

Nothing in the rule forces individuals to use contraception. Rather, it states that access to birth control should be a personal matter, available to all women. No matter her religion or employer, women should have equal access to basic preventive health care.

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Thanks to the Obama administration, thousands of women will have access to birth control with no out-of-pocket expense. Contraception is safe, basic health care. The ability to plan pregnancies can prevent a range of complications and lead to improved health outcomes for women and their babies. Attempts to restrict access to contraception is not only bad public policy, it is also an intrusion that endangers women’s health.

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