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Catholic Universities and the Obama Administration clash over birth control

Controversy erupted over the push for more access to birth control as part of the Obama administration’s new healthcare law. If the law were to go into effect, next year on Aug. 1st, Catholic universities, along with other religiously affiliated organizations, will be required to include contraceptive services in their health plans and have them offered to students. However, within days of the announcement the Obama administration reversed their decision due to the backlash that the law had received.

In an informal poll, ten random people in Chicago were asked, “Do you believe that the schools are obligated to comply with the law or should they refuse to implement it?” The results of the poll were split, with some supporting the law and agreeing that the universities should comply, while others criticized it for attacking religious freedom.

Of those who supported the law, they believed that it was ultimately up to the woman to decide whether or not to take birth control if it is provided.

“No woman no matter what, should have her body legislated… l really feel that women have the freedom to choose,” said Yolanda(she did not want to have her last name on the record due to privacy concerns), who is 65 and a senior consultant for an IT company.

Similarly, Alicia Howard a 22 year old student believes that, “They [the universities] should allow their students to make those decisions for themselves.”
The administration has cited research that found birth control usage:

  • Increased the rates of unintended pregnancies
  • reduced the risk of benign breast diseases
  • reduced menstrual problems, endometrial cancer, and pelvic inflammatory disease
  • reduced the death rate from pregnancy compared to those who did not use birth control

Those who did not support the law believed that the government was overstepping its authority by imposing the legislation on the Catholic universities.

Kim Richardson, a 37-year-old graphic designer, believes that, “It does not feel right that the state has to force a religious school to supply something that they do not want to supply.”

Catholic universities such as Belmont Abbey College and Colorado Christian University, have aleady sued the Obama administration, arguing that having to issue contraceptives violates their religious freedom.

“It is above and beyond the realm of government to interfere with Catholic practices,” says Tom Fitzgerald, a 65-year-old financial service worker.

Photo by: Pablo Martinez Monsivals/AP Images

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The Hub Bub is a collection of articles, videos, audio, photo slideshows, interactive maps and other media produced by students enrolled in journalism courses at Loyola University Chicago's School of Communication. For more about the School of Communication, our award winning faculty, and our state of the art facilities located in the heart of Chicago, visit our website.