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Friday, August 10, 2012

Religion Alert: Contraception has Nothing to do with a War on Religion

I'm a nurse.

After prolonged and wasteful debate about the urgent need for US health care reform, President Obama's opponents, led by Mitt Romney, are now slandering the passage of the affordable care act (ACA) as being anti-religious freedom.  I submit, contraception is only a religious freedom issue when women are denied access to having it for the purposes of family planning or medical treatment.

Rachel Weiner writes in the Washington Post blog site "The Fix":

"Mitt Romney makes an appeal to the Catholic vote with his latest ad, moving away from the economy to talk about health care and contraception.  President Obama touted newly expanded contraception coverage in ads aimed at women. (But) ...Now Romney is using the expanded (contraception) coverage to say the president declared a 'war on religion'."

As a Roman Catholic professional registered nurse, I'm outraged by this ridiculous Romney campaign claim. It's yet another example of how Romney shows no moral leadership when it comes to spending his unlimited campaign money, without regard for providing solutions to real health care access issues.  Women need support when it comes to access to health care. Our reproductive systems are not political fodder.

Moreover, in my nursing opinion, religion has nothing to do with contraception.  On the other hand, religion does call on us to care for our neighbor.  In other words, Biblical reference supports providing people with access to quality, affordable health care without regard for a person's pre-existing conditions, gender or ability to pay (Roman's 13:8). 

As a result of women being evaluated by medical professionals, like physicians and advanced practice nurses, during routine screenings for renewed contraceptive prescriptions, female health improves because of the preventive care offered, like mamograms or PAP smears for cervical cancer.

Although Roman Catholic Bishops, along with other religious sects like Mormons and Muslims, disapprove of women using contraception, an exemption is offered to protect the religious liberty for these particular advocates, who find contraception to, somehow, be a religious issue.  

Of course, contraception isn't a religious issue. Rather, it's a women's health issue.  Do women realize that, when religious zealots talk about blocking insurance contraceptive coverage, we're potentially at risk for loosing access to health care for treatment of endometriosis and menstrual anomalies (for example)?

Why not an exemption for Viagra? Evidently, Roman Catholic Bishops, Mormons and Muslims don't have issues with Viagra, the men's medical cure for sexual impotence, because no one is calling for an insurance exemption for this coverage under health care reform.

As a nurse, I absolutely don't understand how contraception, when used for the purpose of family planning or as medical treatment, is anywhere near being a religious issue. It's a religious issue only when women are prevented from access to contraception for these valid purposes.

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