Stand up for individual freedom
I was so glad to see a group of powerful religious leaders speak up in support of President Obama's efforts to expand access to health care, including birth control, to all women. Catholics, Jews, Methodists, Episcopalians - these folks all spoke in one voice about one thing dear to me: individual freedom.
We don't get to make other people's medical and private decisions for them, and we don't get to cherry pick who gets what kind of health care. It is a great accomplishment of President Obama, HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius, and leaders in Congress, like Senator Barbara Mikulski, that women's health care in this country is profoundly better now than it has ever been in our nation's history: being a woman no longer counts as a "pre-existing condition", and literally millions of women can now have access to birth control without having to sacrifice other critical things their families need. This is about those real women: What's really at stake here is the impact on real people, like the nurse who works for modest pay at the religiously affiliated hospital, or the secretary at a university.
Respect for people's religious beliefs does not mean that your boss gets to decide what kind of health care you get. Respect for people's religious beliefs and their individual liberty means individuals get to decide what kind of religion they practice and what health care is right for them. A person may decide not to use a medication, but that's their decision. Institutions that serve a broader public have an obligation to respect our nation's core value of individual liberty, as we respect their religious beliefs.
The core of our democracy is at stake if Romney and the right wing impose a structure where some women have to choose between second class citizenship and diminished access to health care or their job.