We are covering the birth control controversy in several parts, beginning with looking at some of the arguments against the use, history, statistics, and a discussion of several models that may explain the reasons behind the current birth control panic. The models come from psychology, political science, law, cognitive science, and sociology.
Why in 2012 is there a sudden controversy over the birth control pill and birth control? The issue began when the Health and Human Services Department of the Obama Administration announced its policy that contraception would be covered in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA). Churches and houses of worship would be exempt. This policy is similar to several states’ policies requiring contraception coverage and allowing religious organizations to be exempt.
Currently 28 states require contraception coverage without exemption and without mass protest. The January 2012 announcement was favored by women’s rights groups, but not by the US Conference of Catholic Bishops who declared it an affront to religious freedom and asked for conscience clauses in the PPACA. The bishops framed the issue as “religious freedom” rather than against contraception, even though it is well known that the Catholic Church is against contraception.
The bishops’ conscience clause affects more than the 750,000 Catholic hospital employees. It also affects the millions of patients who use the 629 Catholic hospitals who cannot receive services that are against the conscience clause. These patients also cannot be informed about these services nor referred to another institution. The opposed services include contraception, sterilization, emergency contraception, abortion, fertility treatments for same-sex couples, counseling for sexually transmitted diseases, and removal of patients from feeding tubes. The Catholic hospitals receive 50% of their funding from state and local government, and only 3% of the funding comes from the church or church donations. The allowance of conscience clauses results in patients negotiating health care decisions with the local bishops and their present employer rather than between patients and doctors.