News / USA

    US Bishops Reject 'Contraceptive Mandate'

    Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, gestures during an interview at the North American College in Rome, February 14, 2012.
    Archbishop of New York, Timothy Dolan, gestures during an interview at the North American College in Rome, February 14, 2012.

    A group of university students throws around a frisbee, taking advantage of a sunny spell during a break between classes. The scene could be at almost any college in the United States.

    But it is at the Catholic University of America and it masks a lively debate on this campus about the line between church and state, especially when it pertains to women and birth control.

    Under President Barack Obama's health insurance reform, students and faculty covered by the insurance plans of Catholic universities like this one will be reimbursed for contraceptives. But the so-called "contraceptive mandate" has come up against stiff opposition from the Roman Catholic Church and many of its adherents in the United States.

    "This is not an issue of whether birth control should be used," says Regina Conley, who works at the student newspaper. "I think it's an issue of a Catholic university has certain principles and certain standards, and people should expect that."

    "It's a woman's right," counters Bridget MacDonald. She says that health for many women depends on access to contraceptives.

    "If they're not able to access such important things then it just isn't right.  The employer should not be able to determine that no matter what your religion, creed, anything like that."

    Although this is a Catholic-run university, many of the students are non-Catholics.

    President Obama's health care reform requires employers in the United States to provide contraceptive coverage for their employees.  Churches and other dedicated houses of worship with moral objections can get an exemption, but not lay institutions such as religious-run hospitals, charities and universities, which serve the wider public and hire workers from outside the faith.  

    Maria Sophia Aguirre teaches economics at Catholic University. A vociferous opponent of contraception, she said government agencies have no right to promote it as an aid to women's health.

    "This, as a woman, I find insulting," she said. "I am not a tool of policy and I don't need the government to tell me how should I use my sexual activity."

    Aguirre said anyone who wants contraceptive coverage should find another university.

    Most Catholics in America disagree with her. A CBS / New York Times poll earlier this month found that a majority believe that religiously affiliated employers should offer health insurance that provides contraception.

    But last November, their bishops launched a campaign against the mandate - and many wrote protest letters that parish priests later read at church services.  

    John Allen, Jr., is the Vatican correspondent for the National Catholic Reporter and author of several books on the church. He said that in the back of the bishops' minds is the fact that more than 50 percent of Catholics who voted in 2008 chose President Obama.

    “I think the bishops in some way perceive Obama as a rival for leadership in the American Catholic community," he said.

    But Stephen Shneck, who teaches political science at Catholic University, said the bishops prepared well for this battle.

    "They had a committee in place. They had the money in place. They had a message ready to go and so they very quickly mobilized," he said. "And yes, I think they're feeling their oats right at the moment. They've had tremendous political success with this."

    Under pressure from not only the bishops, but also conservative Protestants and Republican lawmakers, Obama has modified the plan so that religious employers don't have to pay for contraceptives directly. Instead, the insurance companies will pay the reimbursement. But the bishops say that is still unacceptable and are redoubling their campaign against what they say is a violation of their religious liberty.

    You May Like

    Hope Remains for Rio Olympic Games, Despite Woes

    Facing a host of problems, Rio prepares for holding the games but experts say some risks, like Zika, may not be as grave as initially thought

    IS Use of Social Media to Recruit, Radicalize Still a Top Threat to US

    Despite military gains against IS in Iraq and Syria, their internet propaganda still commands an audience; US officials see 'the most complex challenge that the federal government and industry face'

    ‘Time Is Now’ to Save Africa’s Animals From Poachers, Activist Says

    During Zimbabwe visit, African Wildlife Foundation President Kaddu Sebunya says poaching hurts Africa as slave trade once did

    This forum has been closed.
    Comments
         
    There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

    Featured Videos

    Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
    Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolatei
    X
    July 29, 2016 4:02 PM
    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Ivorian Chocolate Makers Promote Locally-made Chocolate

    Ivory Coast is the world's top producer of cocoa but hardly any of it is processed into chocolate there. Instead, the cocoa is sent abroad to chocolate makers in Europe and elsewhere. This is a general problem throughout Africa – massive exports of raw materials but few finished goods. As Emilie Iob reports from Abidjan, several Ivorian entrepreneurs are working to change that formula - 100 percent Ivorian chocolate bar at a time.
    Video

    Video Tesla Opens Battery-Producing Gigafactory

    Two years after starting to produce electric cars, U.S. car maker Tesla Motors has opened the first part of its huge battery manufacturing plant, which will eventually cover more than a square kilometer. Situated close to Reno, Nevada, the so-called Gigafactory will eventually produce more lithium-ion batteries than were made worldwide in 2013. VOA's George Putic reports.
    Video

    Video Polio-affected Afghan Student Fulfilling Her Dreams in America

    Afghanistan is one of only two countries in the world where children still get infected by polio. The other is Pakistan. Mahbooba Akhtarzada who is from Afghanistan, was disabled by polio, but has managed to overcome the obstacles caused by this crippling disease. VOA's Zheela Nasari caught up with Akhtarzada and brings us this report narrated by Bronwyn Benito.
    Video

    Video Hillary Clinton Promises to Build a 'Better Tomorrow'

    Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton urged voters Thursday not to give in to the politics of fear. She vowed to unite the country and move it forward if elected in November. Clinton formally accepted the Democratic Party's nomination at its national convention in Philadelphia. VOA national correspondent Jim Malone has more.
    Video

    Video Trump Tones Down Praise for Russia

    Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump is toning down his compliments for Russia and Vladimir Putin as such rhetoric got him in trouble recently. After calling on Russia to find 30.000 missing emails from rival Hillary Clinton, Trump told reporters he doesn't know Putin and never called him a great leader, just one who's better than President Barack Obama. Putin has welcomed Trump's overtures, but, as Zlatica Hoke reports, ordinary Russians say they are not putting much faith in Trump.
    Video

    Video Uganda Unveils its First Solar-powered Bus

    A solar-powered bus described by its Ugandan makers as the first in Africa has made its public debut. Kiira Motors' electric bus, Kayoola, displayed recently at a stadium in Uganda's capital. From Kampala, Maurice Magorane filed this report narrated by Salem Solomon.
    Video

    Video Silicon Valley: More Than A Place, It's a Culture

    Silicon Valley is a technology powerhouse and a place that companies such as Google, Facebook and Apple call home. It is a region in northern California that stretches from San Francisco to San Jose. But, more than that, it's known for its startup culture. VOA's Elizabeth Lee went inside one company to find out what it's like to work in a startup.
    Video

    Video Immigrant Delegate Marvels at Democratic Process

    It’s been a bitter and divisive election season – but first time Indian-American delegate Dr. Shashi Gupta headed to the Democratic National Convention with a sense of hope. VOA’s Katherine Gypson followed this immigrant with the love of U.S. politics all the way to Philadelphia.
    Video

    Video Dutch Entrepreneurs Turn Rainwater Into Beer

    June has been recorded as one of the wettest months in more than a century in many parts of Europe. To a group of entrepreneurs in Amsterdam the rain came as a blessing, as they used the extra water to brew beer. Serginho Roosblad has more to the story.
    Video

    Video Commerce Thrives on US-Mexico Border

    At the Democratic Convention in Philadelphia this week, the party’s presumptive presidential nominee, Hillary Clinton, is expected to attack proposals made by her opponent, Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump, to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border. Last Friday, President Barack Obama hosted his Mexican counterpart, President Enrique Peña Nieto, to underscore the good relations between the two countries. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Tucson.
    Video

    Video Film Helps Save Ethiopian Children Thought to be Cursed

    'Omo Child' looks at effort of African man to stop killings of ‘mingi’ children
    Video

    Video London’s Financial Crown at Risk as Rivals Eye Brexit Opportunities

    By most measures, London rivals New York as the only true global financial center. But Britain’s vote to leave the European Union – so-called ‘Brexit’ – means the city could lose its right to sell services tariff-free across the bloc, risking its position as Europe’s financial headquarters. Already some banks have said they may shift operations to the mainland. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.

    Special Report

    Adrift The Invisible African Diaspora