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Since the Trump administration expanded the exemption from the HHS contraception mandate, several misleading responses have appeared. While disagreement in a pluralistic society is to be expected – particularly on issues surrounding sexuality – civil debate must be based on truth, not fear that is rooted in falsehood.
A video I saw on social media illustrates the kind of response I am talking about. In it, a young woman talks about the benefits of the birth control pill, saying that policymakers do not understand these benefits because they are men. (As if there are no men who think there is a "benefit" to contraceptive sex.) The ad gives the impression that policymakers are taking the birth control pill away from women. The ad plays on fears that the government is taking away birth control, and from what I see, some people believe this is true. It is not.
The federal contraceptive mandate is – alas – still in place. While the administration could have simply ended the mandate altogether, it chose to keep it, ensuring that the vast majority of Americans will have access to contraceptive coverage through their employer health plans. (The Trump administration estimates that more than 99.9% of women in the United States will not be affected by the expanded exemption.)
Even if the administration had ended the federal mandate, we would have returned to something more like the situation before August 2011 – hardly the Dark Ages – in which many employers would still have offered contraception coverage in their plans. However, HHS is continuing to require that employers who don't have a sincerely held religious or moral objection cover contraceptives, and we now have a real exemption for conscientious objectors.
The only thing that changed on October 6 is that a real exemption for conscientious objectors was put in place.
There was no reason for contraception supporters to pick a fight with religious people. Perhaps picking the fight was the goal all along.
There is no doubt that Americans have easy access to an abundance of options for contraceptives. However, many Americans do not have easy access to models of a different way of living, an alternative to the consumeristic view of sex that is promoted as the norm in mainstream culture.
The campaigns opposing expansion to the HHS mandate exemption are driven by the claim that fanatics are coming for your birth control, and to protect your "rights," religious people must be driven out of the public square. People who actually believe what the Church teaches – like me, my family, and many of my closest friends – are depicted by some groups as totally beyond the pale.
Perhaps people suffering the effects of nihilistic sex want to see that there is another way. We need institutions to have the freedom to operate in accordance with their convictions so that we can present these kinds of alternatives.
We need to have space for faith-based organizations to show that there is a better way of life.
Contraception promoters have no reason to play fast and loose with the truth, except to try to force their erroneous views on those who disagree with them.
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