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Catholic Bishops continue to plead that they must be free to exercise their conscience on contraception, which entails preventing women from exercising that same right. If there’s any conflict of rights here women should win out since it is their bodies and well-being that are at stake.

The Bishops would not even be the one’s buying the contraceptives. Women would.

In patriarchal societies men feel that they should govern women’s bodies. In some places women must get permission from their husbands to see a doctor. And now these male church leaders want to take on that role for women employees?

As Gail Collins at the New York Times points out, the Bishops can teach, but they can’t force others to align with their teachings.

Besides, why don’t other religions have similar issues? As Times columnist Nick Kristof observes,

I wondered what other religiously affiliated organizations do in this situation. Christian Science traditionally opposed medical care. Does The Christian Science Monitor deny health insurance to employees?

“We offer a standard health insurance package,” John Yemma, the editor, told me.

That makes sense. After all, do we really want to make accommodations across the range of faith? What if organizations affiliated with Jehovah’s Witnesses insisted on health insurance that did not cover blood transfusions? What if ultraconservative Muslim or Jewish organizations objected to health care except at sex-segregated clinics?

Or should employers, insurers or doctors refuse access to a drug or medical procedure because a disease arose from a practice they disagree with on religious grounds, whether that be the use of drugs, alcohol, tobacco, meat, sex outside of marriage, a patient’s sexual orientation, etc., etc.?

And anyway, religious people should sacrifice for their own convictions. They should not ask non-members to sacrifice for their church’s beliefs.

No surprise that political right-wingers have jumped on the bandwagon, given their pattern of seeking to strip women’s rights to their bodies, health and well-being. The far-right has tried to defund Planned Parenthood and some now want HHS to strip contraceptive coverage requirements for all employers, religious or not. Extreme conservatives have worked to prevent abortions that could save women’s lives, they have tried to redefine rape into “no rape,” and some have backtracked on protecting women from domestic violence. In fact, this past year has been widely regarded as a war on women by the extreme right.

Religious liberty? No this is about acting “severely conservative” with the aim of controlling women.

Originally posted to BroadBlogs on Thu Feb 16, 2012 at 10:00 AM PST.

Also republished by Dream Menders and Abortion.

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