I take issue with Rosemary Antunes' letter in the Jan. 15 Northern Virginia Daily that the Affordable Care Act contradicts the First Amendment nor by any stretch of the imagination should it violate her individual conscience. Neither she nor any other individual is compelled to provide health care that covers contraception.
The church's position on this controversy is simply out of touch with a majority of the public including Catholics. A poll by the Public Religion Research Institute found that only 6 percent of respondents believed that religious liberty is threatened by the contraception debate. Other polls indicate a sharp difference between the bishops' views and those of Catholics. Public Policy Polling found that 57 percent of Catholics support the Obama administration's plan to provide for no cost birth control coverage at religiously affiliated institutions without these institutions paying for it directly.
If the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has its way, hard working women will be denied access to affordable contraceptives; more children will grow up in poverty; victims of rape and sex trafficking will be forced to carry their pregnancies to term against their will; the gay community would be denied the right to marry with its accompanying benefits; people will be denied the counseling that condoms dramatically reduce the risk of contracting HIV that will help save their and their loved ones lives. That is not what Americans want and that is not what America is all about.
The Catholic church benefits from a tax preferred status and has no compunctions about seeking government funding to support Catholic schools, hospital and charities. Institutions do not have a conscience. Individuals have a conscience. The only ones who are forced to deny their conscience are women whose employers refuse contraception coverage.
This from Sara Hutchinson, domestic program director for Catholics for Choice; "For us Catholics' social justice is at the core of our faith. We are compelled to work for justice and equality for all. It requires us to stand with the neediest, the hungry, and the jobless. Freedom of religion translates to individual freedom of conscience, or its not freedom at all."
Gene Rigelon, Front Royal