The “Birth Control Permission Slip” Is Insulting and Misleading

What Women Really Think
March 1 2012 1:47 PM

The “Birth Control Permission Slip” Is Insulting and Misleading  


Before the Senate tabled the Blunt Amendment, which would have allowed employers to deny insurance  coverage for contraceptives and other health care based on moral or religious objections, the cool kids on the Interwebs were all passing around  an imagined “Employer Authorization for Contraception” to show just how scary the world would be if the Blunt Amendment passed.

This oh-so-clever “permission slip” is so snarky and juvenile and—most important—so wildly misrepresentative of the reality of the very serious debate over whether religious organizations should be forced to provide contraceptive care that goes against their beliefs that it seemed as though it must have been the product of an angry left-wing  blog. But no, it actually appeared on the tumblr blog for the Obama-Biden campaign with the caption, “If Mitt Romney and a few Republican senators get their way, employers could be making women’s health care decisions for them.”


Let’s remember that the Blunt amendment was introduced in the wake of the Obama administration’s decision that all employers would have to provide free contraceptives to employees as part of Obamacare, a decision that was widely criticized on the right and which led to a compromise that religious groups wouldn’t have to pay but that insurers would have to provide the contraceptives anyhow.

The left like to portray the resistance from conservatives toward forced payments for contraceptives as discriminating against women, as proof that conservatives hate sex. Please stop. I’m so tired of hearing this. It’s very simply an issue of religious freedom.  The Catholic Church does not want to PAY FOR your birth control. The church isn’t telling you can’t take birth control. It’s not telling you not to have sex.  We live in a free country. If free birth control is your top concern about your job, then DON’T TAKE A JOB WITH THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, or at a Catholic hospital.

I personally think the Catholic Church’s position on birth control is sadly outdated. Many of its own members agree and use birth control against the church’s edict. But the fact is that it remains church policy, and the United States places a great deal of emphasis, or used to, on religious freedom.  

What is most striking about the silly permission slip is that it makes clear that the Obama campaign sees the birth control issue as one in which employers are meddling in the lives of their employees. How ironic. The reason that so many conservatives who, like me, generally support birth control but are backing of the Catholic Church and Blunt on this issue is because we see Obamacare as the meddler. It's one more way that the government is telling you how to live and what to do. It’s not that conservatives hate sex or hate women. It’s that we see birth control as a matter of personal responsibility, not an employer’s.

Rachael Larimore is a Slate senior editor.


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