Letter to the Editor: Lack of birth control coverage creates new burdens for employees

Jessica Kroenert, Class of 2015

There has been a great deal of talk about President Barack Obama’s new health care bill in the news recently, and I feel that the recent article by The Lamron columnists juniors Joe Flynn and Alex Dee provided some questionable information that lead to misguided opinions.

I feel that the biggest misstep of the article was that it accused the bill of preventing Catholic organizations from exercising their own moral beliefs. This is simply not true. Under this new legislation the government would not be requiring Catholic organizations to start endorsing birth control or even to physically purchase birth control for their employees. The only thing the Church would need to do is have an insurance plan for its employees that covers contraception.

In reality, this is not all that much to ask of an institution that isn’t even required to pay taxes in this country. Not all employees of Catholic institutions, such as nurses and teachers, follow the strict Catholic doctrine that contraceptives are sinful and it is not right that these employees should be denied affordable contraceptives simply because the institution itself doesn’t endorse them.

Also, the article failed to mention the alternate uses of contraceptives like treating irregular menstrual cycles or ovarian cysts. If employees of Catholic institutions require contraceptive medication for one of these conditions but cannot afford the expensive monthly prescription on their own, are they simply supposed to go without because their employer does not endorse one of the uses of their medication? While there may be slightly more affordable options offered through organizations such as Planned Parenthood, because these are medical conditions their treatment should be covered by people’s insurance plans.

What I found most offensive about this article, however, was the following sentence: “If we are mature enough to have sex with another we most definitely should be able to pay the small fee [for contraceptives], even if it means we have to sacrifice one or two of our cups of Starbucks.” Simply because an individual is “mature enough” for sexual activity does not mean that they can afford a monthly prescription. Despite the fact that some people do try to play the system, I find it ignorant to think that most Americans can afford contraception on their own and are simply unwilling to pay for it.

Take, for example, just one of the approximate 17.2 million households in America that struggle to feed their families. If they cannot afford food, how are they supposed to be able to afford reliable methods of contraception when most brands cost between $25 and $100 per month? Without access to affordable birth control through their insurance plans, these families run the risk of having another child that will need to battle poverty and hunger. It is unrealistic to expect those who struggle with these issues to withhold from intimate sexual relationships with their partners.

The church’s opposition to contraception is not about the church’s belief in the “fullness and expression of love” as Flynn and Dee said. Rather, they asserted that the use of contraception only leads to moral decay in society. Contraception, however, is not solely used by sex-crazed teens that will destroy the moral fiber of society, but by couples in long-term relationships who are not yet ready for children and families looking to limit the number of children they have.

But again, this new bill is not asking the Church to denounce its disapproval of contraceptives or even personally pay for their employees to have it, but simply to ensure that their employees have access to affordable contraceptive prescriptions if they require or desire them.

-Jessica Kroenert, Class of 2015