Every woman is entitled to access contraception as a matter of basic rights and fundamental dignity. Jewish tradition believes that contraceptives are not only acceptable, but legitimate forms of health care and family planning. We also teach that health care is the most important communal service, and should be available to all. Tell your member of Congress that as a Reform Jew, you support all women's access to contraceptive coverage without co-pay.
In July 2011 an Institute of Medicine panel recommended eight preventative clinical services for women that should be offered without co-pays under the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. The fifth recommendation was for insurance plans to make available “the full range of FDA-approved contraceptive methods, sterilization procedures, and patient education and counseling for all women with reproductive capacity.” In August 2011, Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius followed the panel’s advice and released regulations that included birth control without co-pay.
Reflecting and respecting the unique role and mission of religious institutions, the rule contained a religious exemption. Nonetheless, some religious leaders expressed concern that the exemption was too narrow (for example, one objection was that the exemption includes houses of worship but not religiously affiliated universities or hospitals). At the same time, many women’s health groups argued that the exception drawn by the Administration was too broad and would deny women employed by those institutions access to birth control without co-pay. As a compromise, the Obama Administration announced earlier this year that it would work with all the interested groups and revise the regulations, likely by having insurers pay for the contraception, rather than the religious entities.
The Reform Movement has long been a supporter of religious liberty. At the same time, it also supports women having the access and ability to make their own reproductive health decisions. Every woman, including women who work for entities covered by the exemption, is entitled to access contraception as a matter of basic rights and fundamental dignity. That’s why the Reform Movement supports the compromise approach, which provides a way for women who work for organizations covered by the exemption to access birth control without a co-pay from a third party. There can be no discrimination in basic health services.
The United States’ commitment to principles of religious liberty have allowed religious freedom to thrive throughout history. At the same time, Jewish tradition reflects the view that contraceptives are not only acceptable but a legitimate form of health care and family planning. Jewish tradition also teaches that health care is the most important communal service, and therefore should be available to all.