Shapiro: Decision making on women’s health issues requires secular approach

What if the Founding Fathers used religion as a guiding principle for every part of the U.S. Constitution? They could have used their political power to impress their views on everyone else, but didn’t. They believed that the United States was founded on religious tolerance, and that the ability to practice freely would make this a great nation; religion does not belong in politics and it especially does not belong in decisions concerning women’s health.

The founders knew church and state had to be separated, so why the confusion today? Why are politicians hell bent on making sure their religious views are the people’s religious views?

There is a growing problem in women’s health, and it is the right wing’s small-minded attempts to thwart any progress achieved in the last 50 years. A woman’s body is not something up for debate. It should not be subject to bills, committees, votes and negative campaigning.

The hot issue of women’s health has seemed to capture the attention of many conservative politicians, mostly men, who feel it is their moral duty to convert their religious views into national laws.

In the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama called for free-of-charge contraception for all women, a stipulation that sent reverberations throughout the country, from doctor’s offices to church pews. Some, particularly those of the Christian faith, believe that the use of contraception is a sin, and the only time one should have sex is when one is trying to procreate.

Not everyone in the country, however, follows these rules or has these morals. Why should a select few use their political power in politics to force their views upon others?

The cry from Republicans to take away health services for women also extends to the state level. Tea partyers in many states – especially in the South – have supported the defunding of Planned Parenthood because the organization, which addresses abortion, uses money from the government. This is particularly interesting, since Texas is in the top five states for teenage pregnancy rates. The preventative health care for about 50,000 women is at risk due to a ruling that is wrapped up in religion.

The Constitution clearly states, “We the people of the United States … promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.” This is not an empty statement. I believe our government is in place today to ensure that each American has the right to live out the American dream, whatever it may be for them.

Religion’s role in politics is interfering with this right, especially for women. Why should their rights be curbed due to someone else’s beliefs? There is a time and place for religion, and it is not on Capitol Hill.