Monday, February 20, 2012

Implications of President Obama's Contraception Policy

In response to President Obama’s compromise, which lifted the obligation of providing free contraception off of religious institutions and placed it on insurers, several church officials met with members of congress in order to discuss the implications of such a policy. The clergy in attendance addressed the insufficient appeal of President Obama’s proposed compromise. According to the religious institutions, the limited exception failed to address the main point of their opposition. Although the new policy would not oblige religious institutions to directly finance the contraception services, the moral implications of offering it through insurance companies would still lie on the employers. This means that with the new policy in effect, employers are still required to offer insurance plans explicitly contradictory to the doctrine they preach. According to a rabbi in attendance, “Religious organizations would still be obligated to provide employees with an insurance policy that facilitates acts violating the organization’s religious tenets”.

A Catholic reverend in Massachusetts addresses the issue of contraception and clearly states the church’s opposition to it. Reverend Roger J. Landry employs Pop John Paul II’s sermons on intercourse which discuss the complete devotion of oneself in exchange for another’s love. Landry goes on to describe the exploitation which can occur when the purpose of intercourse is not of a reproductive nature, but pleasure. According to the priest, “When that petition is made for contraception, it’s going to make pleasure the point of the act, and any time pleasure becomes the point rather than the fruit of the act, the other person becomes the means to that end”. Although many, including other Catholics reject his explicit opposition on the basis that it is oppressive to women, he explains that by refusing contraception and using intercourse strictly as a means for reproduction, the use of women for sexual pleasure becomes eliminated.

Despite the doctrinal differences among them, all of the clergy in attendance were opposed to Obama’s policy on contraception. All parties involved in this issue seem to agree that the policy is a bold move by Obama in the political arena. According to some, the policy is Obama’s way of increasing abortions and contraception while others claim the church is acting in accordance with an age old intention of oppressing women. Although both are certainly possibilities, the moral implications of the policy will probably be milder than either case is arguing. Those who staunchly oppose preventive medicine do not do so because of its limited availability, and so will not become suddenly supportive of it after this policy is put into action.

Clearly the institution of the policy would be imposing on the rights of the religious institutions. By requiring employers to offer services, however indirectly, which are contradictory to their doctrine, the state is forcing the institutions to act against their religious beliefs. However, if the policy does not go into effect, the legislation would be bending to the rights of the institution over the rights of the individuals. The larger issue at hand seems to be who to cater to. The rights of the individual have always seemed to take priority over those of possibly oppressive institutions in our nation’s history. In accordance with this, the legislation of this country has never seemed to bend to church doctrine in the past. The trend of increased individual rights is not likely to cease, despite the threat of secularism in the nation. The freedom to choose is essential to the American individual, despite how that may oppress larger institutions.

1 comment:

Noorin K. said...

I believe the contraception policy is a good policy since various media outlets glamorize teen pregnancy. I do not however think that everyone should be forced to provide it. There should be an option. Some religions have strong beliefs against contraception and others don't want it to be an outlet to escape from the implications of premarital sex. I don't think this is a way to increase abortion since it is helping people not conceive. Contraceptives are also used for female reproductive health and by not allowing them because of religious purposes; you may be hurting a woman's future chance of having children. I think the decision should be left upon the individual. The people who want to honor their religious beliefs will do just that and the people who want contraceptives will take them if they wish.