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Women oppose contraception mandate on legal, medical grounds
By Michelle Bauman
A panel of women speaking at the Catholic Information Center on Feb 27, 2012.
A panel of women speaking at the Catholic Information Center on Feb 27, 2012.

.- Women in fields ranging from law to medicine denounced the Obama administration's contraception mandate, arguing that it violates religious freedom and promotes a culture that degrades women.

“This whole idea of contraception, sterilization and abortifacients as being necessary for a woman’s health is actually demeaning to women,” said Gloria Purvis, a policy director at a major financial services company and board member for the Northwest Pregnancy Center and Maternity Home.

She explained that this idea is based on the belief “that women, because of our fertility, are deficient, and we need fixing,” and warned that the mandate “further presses this false perception into the American psyche.”

Purvis took part in a Feb. 27 panel of women at the Catholic Information Center in Washington, D.C. that spoke out against the Jan. 20 mandate announced by the Obama administration.

The federal rule, which has sparked intense protest from religious groups in recent weeks, will require employers to provide health insurance plans that include contraception, sterilization and abortifacients.

Purvis, who has also served on the National Black Catholic Congress' Leadership Commission, said that the Catholic Church is engaged in a spiritual battle for religious freedom.

She added that the ability to create and foster life is already “undervalued” in our culture and predicted that if the mandate succeeds, it will further an attitude of “hostility toward motherhood.”

The Catholic Church offers true liberation for women, she said, explaining that “it’s the Church that allows me full membership without asking me to check my fertility at the door.”

Dr. Marie Anderson, chief medical officer of the Tepeyac Family Center in Fairfax, Va., said that as an OB-GYN, she feels set up to be a “pawn” in the administration’s attacks on liberty and human dignity.

Anderson, who serves as the president of the Northern Virginia Guild of the Catholic Medical Association, said that women should not accept a culture that assumes they will allow their bodies to be “violated” by medication.

“People talk about the pill as if it were candy,” she said. “And it’s not.”

She outlined a long list of serious side effects associated with the birth control pill, including deadly blood clots and strokes.

Anderson said that it is “just wrong” to “break” a healthy reproductive system with medication.“It’s taking fertility, which is a healthy state, and calling it a disease.”

She added that birth control rejects the amazing opportunity for “taking part in a miracle, that of bringing a life into a world” and instead “turns sexual relations into merely a contact sport.”

“Women deserve better,” she said.

Maria Montserrat Alvarado, director of operations for the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, emphasized that the debate “is a First Amendment issue.”

She said that it is “completely untrue” to suggest that the current debate is a battle between the Catholic Church and American women.

Nor is it “an access issue,” she added, explaining that income-based clinics across the country already offer access to contraception for those who desire it.

Rather, she said, it is about the rights of religious individuals who deserve to be treated as full citizens.

“It’s not for the government to decide what qualifies as violating my own conscience,” added Carrie Severino, chief counsel and policy director to the Judicial Crisis Network.

The American founders understood human nature and created a limited government in order to fight against the human “tendency” toward tyranny, Severino explained.

They knew that rights come from God, not the government, and they listed freedom of religion as the first of these cherished rights in the First Amendment, she said.

Severino denounced the modern idea that government has the authority to force people to violate their consciences. “That is the definition of tyranny,” she said.


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