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Forum: It’s Discrimination Against Women and It’s Wrong

Editor’s note: This Reader Forum article was written by Jane Partridge, co-president of the Lake Forest-Lake Bluff League of Women Voters. It represents the writer’s opinions and not necessarily those of GazeboNews. We encourage you to respond to this, but please include your full name per the GazeboNews comments policy on Reader Forums.

By Jane Partridge, co-president of the League of Women Voters – Lake Forest/Lake Bluff Area

The League of Women Voters was born more than 90 years ago from the long fight to get women the right to vote. Since 1992, when League members studied health care policy, we have worked to ensure access to quality health care for all. The League also has a strong commitment and belief that public policy in a diverse society must affirm the right of individuals to make their own reproductive choices.

That’s why the League is so deeply concerned about recent proposals that would allow employers and health plans to block contraceptive services and discriminate against women.

By a narrow margin, the U.S. Senate recently defeated an amendment that would limit access to contraception for women if any employer or insurance plan has an undefined “religious or moral objection” to it. This open-ended invitation to cut back on preventative health care services would turn back the clock for women and for American society.

We understand that not everyone agrees with the League on this subject. But we strongly believe that public institutions, including schools and hospitals that receive substantial federal assistance, should not limit the health care choices available to their employees. Institutions that serve the public at large should not impose their own views but should respect the conscientious decisions of each individual.

The League of Women Voters believes that all persons, regardless of gender, should be eligible for preventive health services. Allowing employers to exclude contraceptive services is discrimination based on sex, and it’s wrong.


  1. Andrew Hunt says:

    The contraception mandate is the correct and ethical thing to do. This has NOTHING to do with religious freedom and to make that argument is misleading and a bit of scare tactics. There is nothing in the mandate that restricts, limits, or otherwise changes one’s ability to practice the religion of their choosing. If you don’t believe in birth control, reproductive freedom etc., then don’t use those services. You don’t get to make that choice for others.

    On the other hand, to allow an employer to “choose” what medical options exist for their employees based on the employers religious preferences is to restrict the employees choice to practice the faith of their choice. To enshrine into law a principle that says that an employer may impose his/her religious beliefs upon their employees via medical choices is wrong and unethical. The current push to allow catholics (at a national level) to impose their own conservative religious beliefs upon their employees at places like universities and hospitals is akin to “establishing” a religion and this IS prohibited by our constitution. What happens when a Jehova’s Witness group prohibits coverage of blood transfusions for their non-Witness employees….are we good with that?

    We don’t get to choose exactly how our tax dollars are spent. Nor do we get to choose the specifics of how a health insurance premium is spent. I wholeheartedly support the LOWV in their position on this.

  2. Colleen Fitzgerald says:

    The problem with so many organizations’ support of the HHS Contraception Mandate is they simply don’t have all of the facts.

    First, there exists no “right” to employer-funded contraception.  Individuals, however, have every right to seek out one of the many agencies offering free contraception, or pay the modest cost of contraception on their own.

    More importantly, individuals do have the right — guaranteed by the Constitution — to exercise their religious beliefs and be free from government imposition upon those beliefs.

    Religious institutions are not imposing their views on others.  Mandate supporters are, in fact, imposing their views on the faithful.  I financially support my church; my church is mandated to use those dollars to pay for your contraception; ergo — you want me to pay for your contraception, though this is a violation of both my religious beliefs and freedom.

    Further, the argument that not paying for contraception cuts back on preventive health services is nonsense.  In medical terms, preventive services have always been defined as those services that aid in the prevention of illness.  Pregnancy is not an illness and should not be treated as such. 

    The HHR Mandate debate is not about the morality of contraception, the discrimination of women or preventive healthcare.  It’s about religious freedom — a Constitutionally-guaranteed right that many of this country’s founders, and thousands after them, gave their lives to defend.

    Religious freedom is unquestionably right — and should be defended by every American.

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