To cover birth control, or not to cover birth control? Michiana still divided

SOUTH BEND, Ind. – Ten days after President Obama announced a compromise over the debate on whether or not religious affiliated institutions would be required to cover birth control for female employees, the conversation continues in Michiana.

Obama said on February 10th that insurance companies, not the religious institutions, would be required to offer birth control under the insurance plan.
Days later it still doesn’t appear that this compromise has the approval of catholic organizations.
“It’s clear what the Obama Administration offered is, at best, really going to help very few small religious organizations and really for larger religious organizations, like the Catholic Diocese or the University of Notre Dame and other large institutions, it’s really not going to help and we’re still going to be forced by the government to go and violate our consciences,” said Assistant to the Bishop Fred Everett.
Everett said since these larger employers self insure, they will still be force to offer contraceptives.
He said they haven’t seen the rules spelled out yet, but it could still be a few months until that happens.
“The final rules and the accommodations and how that will all play out will not be made clear to us until after the election in November,” said Everett.
Not all people in Michiana are upset with the new mandate.
Dr. Ellyn Stecker, MD, is a Family Care Physician and she said all people are entitled to the option of birth control.
“Employees deserve the right to have full preventative health care regardless of the religious view of their employer,” said Stecker.
Stecker said the fact that some of the largest employers in Michiana are affiliated with the Catholic Church that it makes it even more important to provide the option.
“Notre Dame, St. Joseph Hospital, as well as Memorial Hospital, are among our biggest employers and many people, particularly in lower income brackets, need the jobs that they can get at these places and their health care services should not be determined by a religious view which they may not share,” said Stecker.
Stecker said she doesn’t believe the law will force anyone to provide something they don’t believe in.
“The law will not force them to do anything. It will not force their employees to use birth control, but it will enable their employees to make a choice within the context of their own health,” said Stecker.
Stecker said now she thinks everyone should just take a step back from the argument.
“I think they need to take a timeout. Stop. Think and just rethink this from the standpoint of respect for people of other religions,” said Stecker.
But both sides of this debate seem to be standing firm on their beliefs.
“It’s really up to the Obama Administration right now. If they continue on this path to force us to do something against our consciences, we simply will not yield on that matter, and so it’s really in their court whether we have to continue in this fight or not,” said Everett.

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