Saturday, April 28, 2012

For Many, Religious Faith and Pro-Choice Stance Are Not Contradictory Some people of faith support right to abortion, by Jenna Mink:

At the Rev. Kara Hildebrant's church, the abortion issue rarely comes up. Instead, The Presbyterian Church on State Street focuses on other life problems, such as homelessness and child abuse.

The Presbyterian Church USA supports women's right to health care, including contraception and abortion, and believes in the ability of women to make their own moral choices when dealing with problem pregnancies, according to the organization's website. . . . 

April 28, 2012 in Abortion, Contraception, Culture, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Vatican Reprimands U.S. Nuns for Promoting "Radical Feminist Themes"

The New York Times: Vatican Reprimands a Group of U.S. Nuns and Plans Changes, by Laurie Goldstein:

The Vatican has appointed an American bishop to rein in the largest and most influential group of Catholic nuns in the United States, saying that an investigation found that the group had “serious doctrinal problems.”

The Vatican’s assessment, issued on Wednesday, said that members of the group, the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, had challenged church teaching on homosexuality and the male-only priesthood, and promoted “radical feminist themes incompatible with the Catholic faith.”

The sisters were also reprimanded for making public statements that “disagree with or challenge the bishops, who are the church’s authentic teachers of faith and morals.” During the debate over the health care overhaul in 2010, American bishops came out in opposition to the health plan, but dozens of sisters, many of whom belong to the Leadership Conference, signed a statement supporting it — support that provided crucial cover for the Obama administration in the battle over health care. . . .

April 21, 2012 in International, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Teacher Fired From TX Baptist School for Becoming Pregnant Out of Wedlock

ABC News: Texas Teacher Fired for Unwed Pregnancy Offered to Get Married, by Christina Ng:

A teacher and coach at a private Baptist school in Texas fired for an unwed pregnancy wants to set the record straight about who she is for those who question her fitness as a "Christian role model."

"I'm not just some teacher that went out to a bar and go pregnant and went back to school saying it's okay," Cathy Samford told today. "I was in a committed relationship the whole time and probably would have been married if things had gone differently and this would be a non-situation." . . .

April 11, 2012 in Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Santorum's Catholicism Isn't Winning Him Catholic Support

The New York Times op-ed column: Many Kinds of Catholic, by Frank Bruni:

If Catholicism is measured by obeisance to the pope, his cardinals and the letter of Vatican law, then Rick Santorum is the best Catholic to ever get this far in presidential politics. . . .

And for this he has been rewarded with a truly noteworthy level of Catholic support.

Noteworthy because it’s so underwhelming. . . .

March 21, 2012 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Politics, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

U.S. Catholic Bishops Reconsider Strategy on Contraceptive Coverage Mandate

Reuters: Bishops consider broader focus in birth-control fight, by Stephanie Simon:

Facing small but clear signs of discontent within their own ranks, U.S. Catholic bishops may be poised to rethink their aggressive tactics for fighting a federal mandate that health insurance plans cover contraception, according to sources close to influential bishops. . . .

March 14, 2012 in Contraception, President/Executive Branch, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Catholic Hospital Expansions Raise Concerns Over Access to Reproductive Health Services

The New York Times: Catholic Hospitals Expand, Religious Strings Attached, by Reed Abelson:

As Roman Catholic leaders and government officials clash over the proper role of religion and reproductive health, shifts in health care economics are magnifying the tension. Financially stronger Catholic-sponsored medical centers are increasingly joining with smaller secular hospitals, in some cases limiting access to treatments like contraception, abortion and sterilization.

In Seattle, Swedish Health Services has offered elective abortions for decades. But the hospital agreed to stop when it joined forces this month with Providence Health & Services, one of the nation’s largest Catholic systems. . . .

February 26, 2012 in Abortion, Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexual Assault, Sterilization | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Why Are We Arguing Over Birth Control in 2012?

The Washington Post: How the Catholic Church almost came to accept birth control, by Elaine Tyler May:

There is something truly baffling about the 2012 presidential candidates hotly debating Planned Parenthood and birth control. These battles were fought — and won — half a century ago. At that time, the vast majority of Americans, nearly all mainstream religious organizations and leaders in both political parties accepted contraception as beneficial to families, society and the world. . . .

February 25, 2012 in Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 24, 2012

States Sue Federal Government Over Contraception Mandate

The Hill: Seven States Sue Over Contraception Mandate, by Sam Baker:

Seven state attorneys general sued the Obama administration Thursday over its order requiring some religious employers to cover birth control in their employees’ healthcare plans.

In the suit, the states argue that the White House infringed on the religious freedoms protected by the First Amendment.

“This violation of the [First] Amendment is a threat to every American, regardless of religious faith,” Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said in a news release. “We will not stand idly by while our constitutionally guaranteed liberties are discarded by an administration that has sworn to uphold them. . . .”

February 24, 2012 in Contraception, In the Courts, President/Executive Branch, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Majority of Public Supports Obama's Contraceptive Coverage Compromise

Politico: Poll: Most back White House birth control rule, by M.J. Lee:

A slim majority of Americans approve of President Barack Obama’s recent change to the administration’s rule that mandated religiously affiliated institutions offer free contraception coverage to their employees, according to a new poll Thursday.

More than half of American voters, 54 percent, said they approve of Obama’s plan to allow faith-affiliated employers to refrain from offering free birth control to employees while mandating that it be covered by insurers. Thirty-eight percent said they disapprove of the plan, a Quinnipiac survey found. . . .

February 24, 2012 in Contraception, President/Executive Branch, Public Opinion, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Federal Judge Rules Washington State Cannot Require Pharmacies to Sell Plan B

The Huffington Post: Judge says Wash. can't make pharmacies sell Plan B, by Gene Johnson:

Washington state cannot force pharmacies to sell Plan B or other emergency contraceptives, a federal judge ruled Wednesday, saying the state's true goal was to suppress religious objections by druggists – not to promote timely access to the medicines for people who need them.

U.S. District Judge Ronald Leighton sided with a pharmacy and two pharmacists who said state rules requiring them to dispense Plan B violate their constitutional rights to freedom of religion because such drugs can destroy a fertilized egg, which they consider equal to abortion. . . .

The opinion is available here.

February 23, 2012 in Contraception, In the Courts, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, State and Local News | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 20, 2012

Female Law Student, Barred from Testifying on House Contraception Panel, Speaks Out

The Politicker: Sandra Fluke Discusses Being Rejected From House Contraception Hearing, by Hunter Walker:

Georgetown law student Sandra Fluke talked to The Politicker today about her rejection from yesterday’s House oversight committee hearing on President Barack Obama’s controversial contraception coverage rule. House Democrats wanted Ms. Fluke to be a witness at the hearing, but the committee’s chair, California Congressman Darrell Issa, denied the request and said she was ”not found to be appropriate or qualified.” . . .

Sandra Fluke posted the testimony she intended to give on YouTube:


February 20, 2012 in Congress, Contraception, In the Media, Law School, Politics, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 17, 2012

In Contraceptive Coverage Debate, Religious Groups Try to Up the Ante by Conflating Contraception and Abortion

The New York Times: Religious Groups Equate Some Contraceptives With Abortion, by Pam Belluck & Erik Eckholm:

Adding to their passionate opposition to the rule that employees of religiously affiliated institutions must receive insurance coverage for birth control, Roman Catholic bishops and some evangelical groups have asserted that it also requires coverage of some forms of abortion.

They contend that methods of contraception including morning-after pills and IUDs can be considered “abortifacients” because, these advocates say, they can act to prevent pregnancy after a man’s sperm has fertilized a woman’s egg. . . .


Although birth control pills and IUDs apparently act primarily to prevent ovulation or fertilization, the Catholic bishops and others say that any chance that an egg may be fertilized but not implanted is morally intolerable.  What they ignore is that approximately one half of all fertilized eggs are spontaneously aborted, even in the absence of contraception.


February 17, 2012 in Abortion, Congress, Contraception, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Republican House Committee Excludes Female Panelists From Hearing on Contraception Coverage Rule

ABC News - The Note Blog: Rep. Darrell Issa Bars Minority Witness, a Woman, on Contraception, by Tom Shine:

QuestionMarkA Capitol Hill hearing that was supposed to be about religious freedom and a mandate that health insurers cover contraception in the United States began as an argument about whether Democrats could add a woman to the all-male panel.

“Where are the women?” the minority Rep. Carolyn Maloney, D-N.Y., asked early in the hearing. . . .

February 17, 2012 in Congress, Contraception, Politics, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 13, 2012

Catholic Bishops Reject Obama's Compromise on Contraceptive Coverage Rule

The New York Times: Bishops Reject White House's New Plan on Contraception, by Laurie Goodstein:

ContraceptionThe nation’s Roman Catholic bishops have rejected a compromise on birth control coverage that President Obama offered on Friday and said they would continue to fight the president’s plan to find a way for employees of Catholic hospitals, universities and service agencies to receive free contraceptive coverage in their health insurance plans, without direct involvement or financing from the institutions. . . .

February 13, 2012 in Contraception, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Saturday, February 11, 2012

VA Bills Will Further Limit Funding for Abortions for Medicaid Recipients and Allow Discrimination by Adoption Agencies

Reuters: Virginia lawmakers pass abortion, adoption bills, by Matthew A. Ward:

Image1 (Reuters) - Virginia would halt taxpayer-funded abortions for low-income women in cases where the fetus is severely physically deformed or mentally deficient under Republican-backed legislation passed Friday by state lawmakers.

The House of Delegates voted 64-35 to strip the Board of Health of its ability to fund abortions for Medicaid recipients when a physician certifies that the fetus would be born with a "gross and totally incapacitating physical deformity or mental deficiency."

The measure comes amid a raft of conservative bills in the Virginia General Assembly, which shifted to the right following the 2011 general election.

Separate legislation backed by the state Senate on Wednesday would require women to be given an ultrasound and the chance to see the fetal image before an abortion is performed. . . .

February 11, 2012 in Abortion, Parenthood, Poverty, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights, Sexuality, State and Local News, State Legislatures | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Friday, February 10, 2012

Obama Announces Compromise on Contraceptive Coverage Exemption

NPR: With Contraceptive Coverage Plan 2.0, Obama Pleases Allies, But Not Everyone, by Julie Rovner:

President Barack Obama, flanked by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, announces the revamp of the contraception-care policy on Friday.

President Obama's latest proposed change in how contraceptives are covered by employer health insurance may not have ended the controversy that has raged for the past three weeks. But what the administration is calling an "accommodation" for religious employers has apparently mollified key allies who'd opposed his original plan.

Speaking in the White House Briefing Room flanked by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, the President said he was not backing away from the "core principle" that "women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services – no matter where they work." . . .

Reuters: Insurers stuck with cost of Obama birth-control plan, by Lewis Krauskopf:

President Barack Obama's compromise on free birth control coverage left health insurers stuck with the bill, sparking worries over the precedent set by the new policy.

Obama on Friday made insurers responsible for providing free birth control to employees of religious groups, aiming to placate outraged leaders of the Catholic church who oppose contraception and to defuse an election-year landmine. . . .

The Wall Street Journal: Obama Retreats on Contraception, by Louise Radnofsky, Laura Meckler & Carol Lee:

Some Catholics expressed relief but others were unmoved after President Barack Obama on Friday loosened a requirement that religious employers cover contraception in health plans, an issue that had turned into a political firestorm in recent weeks.

Under the new policy, religious employers opposed to most forms of birth control wouldn't be required to directly pay for such coverage in their workers' insurance policies. Instead, insurance companies would be required to offer contraception without explicitly charging either the religious employer or worker. That shift means the cost of providing the coverage to religious employers is likely to be spread across all policyholders by insurers. . . .

See also: The Daily Beast: Catholics’ Enraged Response to Obama Birth-Control Policy Is Misplaced, by Michelle Goldberg:

Mitt Romney has been railing again the Obama administration’s refusal to exempt Catholic-affiliated institutions like hospitals and universities from its mandate that health insurance cover contraception. “Such rules don’t belong in the America that I believe in,” he writes in a Washington Examiner op-ed. Perhaps no one told him that such rules were in place in Massachusetts the entire time he was governor, because as far as I’ve been able to tell, he never raised a word of objection then. . . .

From the enraged response to Obama’s policy, one would think it represented some sort of radical break with the status quo. In The Daily Beast, Kirsten Powers suggests the administration is threatening to put Catholic institutions out of business. “One thing we can be sure of: the Catholic Church will shut down before it violates its faith,” she writes.

But many Catholic institutions are already operating in states that require contraceptive coverage, such as New York and California. Such laws are on the books in 28 states, and only eight of them exempt Catholic hospitals and universities. Nowhere has the Catholic Church shut down in response. . . .

February 10, 2012 in Contraception, Politics, President/Executive Branch, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Obama Administration Signals Potential Back-Tracking on Contraceptive Coverage Rule

 The New York Times: Obama Tries to Ease Ire on Contraception Rule, by Helene Cooper & Katharine Seelye:

Facing vocal opposition from religious leaders and an escalating political fight, the White House sought on Tuesday to ease mounting objections to a new administration rule that would require health insurance plans — including those offered by Catholic universities and charities — to offer birth control to women free of charge. . . . Will Obama compromise on birth control?, by Irin Carmon:

The administration vaguely signals a middle ground with the Catholic Church on contraceptive coverage

This morning, comments made by David Axelrod had pro-choicers in a fresh panic, just days after what felt like a broad-based victory on reproductive rights in the Komen/Planned Parenthood kerfuffle. ”We’re going to look for a way to move forward that both guarantees women that basic preventative care that they need and respects the prerogatives of religious institutions,” said Axelrod.

He was talking about Catholic bishops who are furious that affiliated hospitals and universities can’t deny their employees contraceptive coverage through their insurance plans — never mind that actual churches are exempt, that this is coverage that in many cases these institutions already offer, for women and men who are already using contraception in violation of the church’s teachings. The New York Times, among others, interpreted this as a signal of retreat, leading with “The White House may be open to compromising” on the rule, which requires full coverage of contraceptives as preventive care under the Affordable Care Act. . . .

CBS News: McConnell says "Congress will act" on birth control issue if White House doesn't, by Stephanie Condon:


Republicans are keeping up the pressure on the Obama administration to walk back its new rule on birth control coverage, with Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell warning today, "If they don't, Congress will act."


"Make no mistake: the Obama administration's decision to force religious hospitals, charities, and schools to comply with a mandate that violates their religious views is abhorrent to the foundational principles of our nation," McConnell said on the Senate floor. . . .

February 8, 2012 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Congress, Contraception, Politics, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, February 6, 2012

Mitt Romney Launches Petitions Against Obama Administration Birth Control Mandate

Mitt-RomneyThe Hill: Mitt Romney rips Obama on birth control, attack on 'religious liberty', by Alicia M. Cohn:

Mitt Romney launched a petition on Monday against a new Obama administration mandate that will force employers, including religious institutions such as Catholic schools, to provide health insurance covering contraception.

Romney blasted the recently announced requirement as part of a series of “attacks on religious liberty” by the administration. . . .

February 6, 2012 in 2012 Presidential Campaign, Contraception, Politics, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Why Women Need Birth Control Coverage

AlterNet: Why New Birth Control Benefits are the Right Choice and Why Religious Conservatives Have it Wrong, by June Carbone & Naomi Cahn:

In a country of alarmingly high unplanned pregnancy, American women need access to affordable birth control for economic and health reasons. 

The Obama administration’s recent decision to require most religious-affiliated employers to cover birth control for their employees is good news for the women who work for religious employers and do not share the male hierarchy’s opposition to birth control. It is also good news for a country with the one of the highest unplanned pregnancy rates in the developed world.

More Than Just Using Condoms

Contraception, as every woman knows, is a system that depends on developing the right habits and getting consistent reinforcement from partners, parents and/or friends. In other words, effective contraception takes more work than simply remembering to use condoms. As a result, many women are more devoted to their gynecologists than other doctor in their lives – and gynecologists can be expensive. One of us visited hers after the birth of a third child. By the late thirties, pregnancy becomes riskier for mother and child and few families feel they can afford a fourth even on a law professor’s income. The gynecologist explained that methods of contraception that work for young women often don’t work as well after childbirth. The solution: an IUD. There was only one problem, the doctor sheepishly explained: It cost $400 and insurance wouldn’t cover it for an employee of a Catholic university. For a professional, $400 is not out of reach; for many women it is. . . .

February 2, 2012 in Contraception, Parenthood, Politics, Poverty, Pregnancy & Childbirth, President/Executive Branch, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)

Monday, January 30, 2012

Catholic Universities Rebel at Contraceptive Coverage Requirement; Students Pay the Price

The New York Times: Ruling on Contraception Draws Battle Lines at Catholic Colleges, by Denise Grady:

Bridgette Dunlap, a Fordham University law student, knew that the school’s health plan had to pay for birth control pills, in keeping with New York state law. What she did not find out until she was in an examining room, “in the paper dress,” was that the student health service — in keeping with Roman Catholic tenets — would simply refuse to prescribe them.

As a result, students have had to go to Planned Parenthood or private doctors to get prescriptions. Some, unable to afford the doctor visits, gave up birth control pills entirely. . . .

January 30, 2012 in Contraception, Law School, President/Executive Branch, Religion, Religion and Reproductive Rights | Permalink | Comments (0) | TrackBack (0)