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Healthcare, morality and women's rights

Planned Parenthood supporters paricipate in a rally on Capital Hill on April 7, 2011 in Was. D.C.
Planned Parenthood supporters paricipate in a rally on Capital Hill on April 7, 2011 in Was. D.C.
Mark Wilson / Getty images

"I do not believe that just because you're opposed to abortion that makes you pro-life. In fact your morality is deeply lacking if all you want is a child born, but not a child fed, not a child educated, not a child housed. That's not pro-life. That's pro bi​rth." - Sister Joan Chittister

The challenge of the birth control mandate, a part of the Affordable Care Act by the Little Sisters of the Poor, a Denver, Co. based nursing home and hospice reveals an outdated religious mindset that subjugates women by defining morality.

The Catholic order of nuns, a non-profit organization objects to providing reproductive coverage to it's employees on the grounds that it violates the employer's religious beliefs - sinful practices. What's perplexing is that religious organizations have been granted a waiver for such instances, and they need only to sign the necessary paperwork to be exempt and thereby passing the coverage off to a third party. Apparently the provision is still viewed as a tacit approval of birth control by the nuns, resulting in the lawsuit.

In a pluralistic society with a secular Constitution, the well being of all it's citizens should be our main concern irregardless of someone's perceived idea of sin, an ancient dysfunctional concept. What is more basic than the health of a nation's citizens?

The Affordable Care Act was created so that everyone would be treated fairly when it comes to healthcare, regardless of gender or other classification.

Planned births, more often than not, are less of a burden on society: teenage pregnancies, unemployed mothers,, birth defects, rape, and couples not financially ready for children. Contraceptives and safe abortions are scientific advances meant to relieve suffering and give women more viable options.

In his book, God Revised : How Religion Must Change in a Scientific Age, the Rev. Galen Guengerich states; " When women are well educated, politically and economically engaged, and reproductively self-determined, everyone is better off. Families are more prosperous, societies are more stable, economies are more prosperous, and political systems are more stable." Rev. Guengerich also mentions Katherine Joyce's book Quiverfull : Inside the Christian Patriarchy Movement. The book explains the biblical submission mandate that enforces the belief that family planning, both abortion and contraception is immoral - every child is an unconditional blessing from god. There appears to be a strategy to win the culture wars by producing more than any other group. What's unsettling is we are now hearing some members of Congress saying the same thing.

Groups like Quiverfull and the Little Sisters of the Poor are on the wrong side of history. They fail to understand that morality in a modern world transcends any particular religious belief and is dependent on human values worked out by humans through mutual understanding and respect, and above all a grasp of how the world really works. The book by Sam Harris, The Moral Landscape : How Science Can Determine Human Values explores this in depth. Mr. Harris reminds us; "As mankind finds out more about the human brain, we know that the way we treat each other and govern ourselves comes from human values that evolve with or without religion." He goes on to say; "Religion can be dangerous because it triggers the worse in humans, like fear, envy, pettiness and bigotry."

For some, traditional religions have over stepped their bounds. Bob Kolenich, a local resident weighs in; "Religions have been fleecing people for thousands of years, and now they are trying to pull the wool over the government's head. They should be treated like the bushiness they really are and not be granted any special favors. They have already been privileged out of the tax codes, exemptions to healthcare regulations must not follow."

One's religious beliefs need not, and should not trump common sense or deny women, or any other group rights allows to others. Ideas have always been more important than beliefs. Ideas can be changed as we learn more about ourselves and the world.

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