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Lakoff and Wehling write: "Do you believe in freedom of religion? President Obama does, and he is defending Americans' freedom of religion against Mitt Romney and Fox News in the administration of his health care bill."

President Obama and Mitt Romney differ in their views on contraception. (photo: AP)
President Obama and Mitt Romney differ in their views on contraception. (photo: AP)

Obama vs. Romney on Contraception

George Lakoff, Elisabeth Wehling, Reader Supported News

12 August 12


o you believe in freedom of religion? President Obama does, and he is defending Americans' freedom of religion against Mitt Romney and Fox News in the administration of his health care bill.

The president allows each woman to decide for herself whether or not to ask her insurance company to cover contraception. If this violates a woman's religious principles, she would never ask. A woman would make such a request only if contraception fit her principles. In short, the president has guaranteed that each woman can act according to her religious principles. He has made a strong defense of freedom of religion.

In difficult cases, he has extended freedom of religion even further, beyond people to churches and houses of worship. Insurance companies are required to cover contraception with no co-pays for the women whose health care they are covering. This guarantees freedom of religion for the women covered, and does not affect insurance companies, which are neither people nor religious institutions.

What about hospitals, charities with a religious affiliation, and religious employers who have a moral objection to contraception? Women getting health care paid through these institutions will be able to obtain contraception from the insurance companies, not the religious institutions. Thus the president has found a way to extend freedom of religion not only to all women, but even beyond people to churches and religious employers.

This makes President Obama a remarkable champion of freedom of religion in contemporary American history.

Moreover, President Obama is very much in touch with the values of Americans. A recent Gallup Poll has shown that, in the U.S., 82 percent of Catholics think that birth control is "morally acceptable." Ninety percent of non-Catholics believe the same. Overall, 89 percent of Americans agree on this. In the May 2012 poll, Gallup tested beliefs about the moral acceptability of 18 issues total, including divorce, gambling, stem cell research, the death penalty, gay relationships, and so on. Contraception had by far the greatest approval rating. Divorce, the next on the list, had only 67 percent approval compared to 89 percent for contraception.

Mitt Romney and Fox News, on the other hand, are proposing a huge backward step on freedom of religion. Romney has said he would support a bill that would allow employers and insurers to deny their female employees insurance coverage for birth control and other health services, based on the religious beliefs of the employers and insurers. As far as employers are concerned, this fits with President Obama's policy. But the extension to insurance companies violates the freedom of religion that the President guaranteed to women.

In addition, Romney has said he would "get rid of" Planned Parenthood, an organization that allows women freedom of religion by supplying contraception if they choose to ask for it. This would be another major blow to freedom of religion.

In short, Romney is advocating, and would take, a big backward step to deny freedom of religion to women.

Incidentally, Romney's ad, which falsely accuses the president of what Romney himself is advocating, namely denial of religious freedom, is entitled "Be Not Afraid," using Biblical language, as if he were God or a prophet.

Given that 89 percent of the American people support contraception, we have no reason to be afraid of Romney - unless we let him get away with his attempt to frame the president as being against religion. The president's advance in promoting freedom of religion should be shouted from the rooftops.

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News. your social media marketing partner


A note of caution regarding our comment sections:

For months a stream of media reports have warned of coordinated propaganda efforts targeting political websites based in the U.S., particularly in the run-up to the 2016 presidential election.

We too were alarmed at the patterns we were, and still are, seeing. It is clear that the provocateurs are far more savvy, disciplined, and purposeful than anything we have ever experienced before.

It is also clear that we still have elements of the same activity in our article discussion forums at this time.

We have hosted and encouraged reader expression since the turn of the century. The comments of our readers are the most vibrant, best-used interactive feature at Reader Supported News. Accordingly, we are strongly resistant to interrupting those services.

It is, however, important to note that in all likelihood hardened operatives are attempting to shape the dialog our community seeks to engage in.

Adapt and overcome.

Marc Ash
Founder, Reader Supported News

-93 # MidwestTom 2012-08-12 09:25
This article presents one view, another view is that by forcing people who disagree with abortions to pay for abortions via the tax system is wrong. Maybe there should be a separate insurance rider that covers abortions. Then of you support abortion you can pay for the rider, if you do not, you do not pay. I think that the above would eliminate at least one cause that is dividing our country.
+17 # robniel 2012-08-12 11:26
Superstition and mythology are great -- except when it leads people to make stupid choices.
-53 # jlohman 2012-08-12 12:03
I do not want the government in my bedroom, and I do not want them or insurers taxing me for right- or left-wing garbage. Not contraceptives nor birth control nor planned parenthood. This is PRIVATE and should remain PRIVATE!
+20 # Hey There 2012-08-12 12:19
Insurance companies already exclude this and exclude that and will only pay a portion of hospital bills and doctor visits and medications and this is for the higher quality insurance companies.If planned parenthood was supported more then there would be fewer abortions.This is not like the "good old days" when like my grandmother who had 6 children,3 died at a very early age so contraception is a must also given that 1 in 88 children in US are currently diagnosed with autism so just from a financial point of view until something is done to correct this problem it would be prudent to make contraception and abortion part of an insurance plan. Welfare has also made it difficult for parents to raise children not to mention the unemployed and the working poor and it's hard on the children too.
+54 # BlueReview 2012-08-12 12:23
". . . forcing people who disagree with abortions to pay for abortions via the tax system is wrong."

I don't think my tax dollars should go to fund wars, to fund for-profit prisons, or executions, to subsidize Big Businesses that pay less for taxes than I do, to pave streets and build bridges I don't drive on, or to fund studies on stupid stuff like whether potato chips that aren't soggy taste better.

Oh, and I also don't like my tax dollars to pay rapists in the military.

I also don't like government OR religion--or you--telling me what I can or can't do with my body (and that includes forced ultrasounds, which is another form of rape. Don't worry, your tax dollars won't pay for that. The woman forced to get it will probably have to pay for it herself.)

Oh--forced vaginal ultrasounds weren't mentioned? You're not the only one who can drag in irrelevancies.

And the rider you suggest wouldn't solve anything, the "pro-lifers" would still object, and still go after doctors and clinics providing such--they were already trying to restrict access to birth control before "ObamaCare". ("The Pill Kills") And let's not forget that nun at a Catholic hospital who was excommunicated for allowing an abortion that saved the mother's life. They're "pro-life"--but only for the fetus. If the walking uterus can't carry to term, she's expendable.
+14 # maddave 2012-08-12 15:33
Brava, BlueReview.

You left out the point made in "Frekonomics" that the violent crime rate has decreased in (a lagging) inverse proportion to the number of abortions performed since Roe v, Wade: the greater the number of abortions in (pick a year), the fewer violent crimes some fifteen years later.
+1 # bmiluski 2012-08-14 08:40
Bravo, bravo, bravo, BlueReview.
+24 # RHytonen 2012-08-12 12:44
There can BE no "controversy," this is not a matter for government AT ALL, and anyway it has been decided in the courts LONG AGO.

The governmet has NO RIGHT to legislate these matters of choice and behavior that do NOT harm another American citizen..

As for who pays for what, again - decided. And ASAP the RIGHTS this country guarantees will also include health, food, lodging, and other matters of survival- although America actually already guarantees them TO CITIZENS (not zygotes) ("Life..." #1.)

If you object to paying for these majority agreed rights in your taxes, you are invited to renounce your citizenship and leave. You do not want to be an American.
+21 # RHytonen 2012-08-12 12:53
As redundantly silly as it is to have ever had to make a law to that effect, The right to choose abortion for oneself, as are ALL legitimate health choices, is the law of the land.

There can BE no discussion.

NO right will ever exist, to tell OTHERS what they may or may not choose. That is, it won't, once we see the absolute criminality of allowing health decisions to be made or denied FOR THE PROFIT of others once they have been paid for the promise of providing them.
+8 # RHytonen 2012-08-12 12:54
Most people in hgis coutr agree with "Susan1989" below.

Case closed.
+16 # maddave 2012-08-12 15:15
A message regarding birth control and abortion:

To the Pope and catholic Hierarchy in the Vatican and elsewhere
"You no playa da game, you you no maka da rules!"
+18 # maddave 2012-08-12 15:25
Quote ". . . forcing people who disagree with abortions to pay for abortions via the tax system is wrong. Unquote

Let's restate that in terms closer to home:
". . . forcing people who disagree with trumped-up, illegal wars to pay for trumped-up. ilegal wars via the tax system is wrong."
+11 # Texas Aggie 2012-08-12 20:01
So what does that have to do with anything? As I am sure you know, abortions are not paid for out of taxes in any case either with Obamacare or as it stands now. You aren't deliberately trying to raise a red herring, are you?
+7 # Kimc 2012-08-12 22:24
It doesn't force the church to pay for contraception, it has the insurance company, which has no conscience, pay for the contraception. Any Catholic woman who agrees with the church that she should not be using contraception, doesn't have to ask her doctor for it. No one is forcing anyone to use it. Only conservatives use abortion as contraception -- progressives use contraception as contraception.
If people like you get your way and restrict contraception, maybe the women of America will go on a sex strike. It's been done before....
+6 # Kootenay Coyote 2012-08-13 08:59
Right. & those of us who disagree with War should, by exactly the same token, be free not to pay taxes that fund the military.
+56 # threeyoung3 2012-08-12 10:04
Tom don't let your beliefs stand in the way of others rights.
+97 # Susan1989 2012-08-12 10:13
How about us folks who are forced to pay for wars we do not agree with...or to absorb the not for profit status of religious organizations we disagree with--includng the mormon church and the catholic which place qall types of restrictions on the activities of even married couples in terms of their most private activities. Possibly I as a citizen no longer want to make up for the taxes they do not pay.
+22 # angelfish 2012-08-12 11:30
Well said,Susan, WELL said!
+3 # charsjcca 2012-08-12 20:39
Susan: Think about this. I did a research project while in graduate school in 1973. In Cleveland County, where the University of Oklahoma is situated, some 17% of all land was off the tax rolls. Hence we bankroll their free speech. The same might be the case in your county.
+64 # evo 2012-08-12 10:20
I hae read this article through twice and see no mention of abortion so I have to wonder if the first 2 commentors don't know the difference between abortions and contraception, didn't read the article very well, or are just trying to frame their comments and this atticle in terms of abortion rather than religious freedom (that's what this article is about, dudes,)?
+16 # Hey There 2012-08-12 12:25
No one is suggesting that those who want to comply with their religious beliefs not do so. They are free to do whatever they want. The point of all of this is that on health matters not being constantly pregnant is a health matter and should be covered by insurance.What insurance covers shouldn't be determined religious beliefs.
+12 # Hey There 2012-08-12 12:32
You're right about abortions not being mentioned.Meant to mention that in previous post.
As far as planned parenthood goes an old saying comes to mind "A stitch in time says nine."
+22 # humanmancalvin 2012-08-12 10:22
They told you Tom, although as a confirmed Radical Right Insurgent, you will not listen as other peoples opinions even if factual fall on deaf ears.
+32 # Glen 2012-08-12 10:34
Romney and Ryan together are going to appeal to folks like MidwestTom. Proof of how appealing their restrictive policies are is exemplified in the laws being passed in states, with or without being voted on, that restrict women's health care and freedoms, right along with changing classroom studies to suit the religious (Missouri), and many others. Certainly some are rejected, but once put out there, in time, those new laws and policies will be accepted/voted in/ forced on citizens.
+16 # cordleycoit 2012-08-12 10:39
Something had to be done there was no health care system and the rethiugs will never allow the people to be healthy. They hate the people, the liberals at least run to the people every couple of years for the votes and then go back to doing the dog. Ok Obama did a half assed job with health care but at least it was there.
+25 # robniel 2012-08-12 11:31
The Affordable Health Care Act came from a half-assed obstructionist Congress. The people who will be there in 2013 should push for single payer if they have half a brain. Why let an insurance company act as a middleman and skim off (at least) 20%?
+10 # bluebluesdancer 2012-08-12 11:51
Hey Cordleycoit! I disagree! 'They' don't hate The People, They just don't give a shit about 'things' that they only need in order to fill the worker-slots in their companies! Workers are not 'People' to them. Only the 2% and the Corporations have enough money to qualify as 'People' to them!
+9 # chrisconnolly 2012-08-12 17:58
If the republicans and the extremists feel they and all their sheep have the right to arbitrarily decide that a woman, any woman, can be stopped from getting affordable contraception by any man then what's going to stop any man from deciding that any other man can be denied affordable vasectomies. Or any medical procedure that could be denied based on religious beliefs. Where will the senseless tyranny end and the humane and reasonable democratic policies be put back onto practice. Hopefully after the next election. Vote Democrat or watch the inquisition begin.
+8 # Kimc 2012-08-12 22:17
i have objections to insurance companies covering Viagra and other similar drugs for men. Why aren't the Catholic and LDS churches objecting to that too? Isn't an artificial erection against God's will?
+4 # bmiluski 2012-08-14 08:47
If anyone ever doublts that this is a male dominated society let them remember that insurance companies cover Viagra but refuse to cover birth control pills.
+8 # Art947 2012-08-12 21:01
Let me add another perspective to this discussion.

Mitt Romney (and I supposed his alter ego Ron Paul) believe that "Corporations are People." As an employer, the Catholic Church is a corporation, and by this definition also a person. The laws of this land theoretically indicate that only a doctor can practice medicine (note that a doctor is a person). Since the dispensing of contraceptives requires a prescription from a medical doctor, and by extension their denial to a patient is also a practice of medicine, then the attempt of church leaders, the CEOs of employers, and others, to restrict women's ability to get the medical attention that they may require should be considered a violation of law and they should be prosecuted as criminal abusers of a woman's rights, bodies and psychological well-being. would also suggest that those who put roadblocks into the way of women getting the medical service that THEY ask for such be treated as the criminals that they are.
+6 # Kimc 2012-08-12 22:14
Religious organizations who are uncomfortable with our laws allowing birth control and mandating that insurance companies include birth control in their services, are free to not run or own any secular businesses in the USofA. They can just stick to religious businesses, or no businesses at all. Why do we allow religious entities to have tax-exempt secular businesses anyway? Only the church itself should be tax-exempt, if that.
+8 # isafakir 2012-08-12 22:24
when they accuse obama of denyıng freedom of relıgıon then ı know who ıs denyıng relıgıous freedom. the very absurdity of that accusation makes their intenions clear. they intend to impose their religion on everybody else.
0 # RMDC 2012-08-14 04:32
Why isn't there a contra-politici an. I think preventing all politicians from existing would make the world a much better place.
+2 # lincolnimp 2012-08-14 11:58
To quote a bumper sticker from the 60's or 70's "Against abortion? Don't have one."
+1 # Radial1971 2012-08-14 22:45
My question: why is this even a Presidential issue? This should be handled by insurance companies, families, their doctors and places of employment. This not an issue that needs government intervention. There are places that already receive funding to provide women who want contraception with free or reduced cost options. This shouldn't even be a part of a Presidential election. Maybe a part of hiring a minister for your church, an interview with a future spouse or a hot topic conversation among friends - but a debate between Presidential candidates? It goes too far.
+1 # Radial1971 2012-08-16 04:10
A question: why is it that replies and responses here are dealing with abortion? Abortion and contraception are two different things. Contraception is what people do to prevent a baby from coming into existence. Abortion is terminating the life of the baby when it is in the mother's life-giving womb. The reality: Each of us who are living and breathing began our lives in our mother's womb. Abortion is a separate conversation. That is a Presidential issue because that has to deal with people are already living in this country.

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