Health care’s possible violation of the freedom of religion heats up in Bowling GreenAuthor: Hannah Hilyard | Filed under: Enterprise Story, Localizing story, Spring 2012, Student Contributor
Bowling Green State University alum Gina Bauer, 22, was raised in Fort Recovery, Ohio, a small town in west central Ohio that has a strong Catholic following.
Bauer grew up going to church every Sunday with her family because that is what everyone did. But by her senior year of high school, she started questioning God’s existence.
When she came to BGSU, Bauer did some searching and found that the Catholic Church had the best answers to her questions. But now she feels her religious views and freedom have come under attack.
Bauer and other members of the Catholic Church across the nation and in the Bowling Green community have voiced their anger against the new Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act introduced by the U.S. Department of Human Health and Services. They believe the new act is a violation of their freedom of religion.
The federal government will soon require birth control to be covered by health insurance through the ACA. It will require employers, regardless of religious affiliation, to provide contraception to women, even though it may be against their religious beliefs.
The idea of contraception coverage was introduced by The Institute of Medicine in a report titled “Clinical Preventive Services for Women: Closing the Gaps.” The report recommended that the federal government include contraceptive methods for all women in their new health care bill.
The church sees the ACA as a violation of one of their First Amendment rights.
Catholics do not believe in any form of contraception. Peter Feldmeier, professor of catholic studies at the University of Toledo, said the church believes intercourse has two purposes. They are to bring a man and a woman closer together in marriage and to procreate.
“The procreative is that sex itself is for procreation and that artificially bringing into the act something that undermines this is unnatural,” he said in an email.BGSU student Mitch Kaiser, 20, of Coldwater, Ohio, is the current president of Veritas, a Catholic organization on campus. He says the church is worried about their freedom of religion because the ACA would force them to go against their beliefs about contraception.
“The biggest thing to us is not being forced to do anything against our conscience, against our religious views,” Kaiser said.
He believes people who follow these beliefs are being forced to support contraception.
Bauer, now the St. Paul Outreach Mission leader at St. Thomas More University Parish, agrees with Kaiser and the Catholic Church’s argument. She focuses on women ministry at the church, but that does not change her view on contraception.
“I talked to a lot of women, and I found that it strengthens what I think about it,” she said. Many women share the same beliefs as the church, she said.
The church needs a strong and well-informed woman to “stand up and act on our beliefs,” Bauer said.
To fight the bill, the members of the Catholic community in Bowling Green have called their representatives and have informed themselves on the issue, Kaiser said.
“Whether it is somebody a part of Veritas or St. Thomas More or it is anybody here of Bowling Green, it is very important just to be educated and well-informed on the issue so that way when we go to whether we want to support it or not, we can make sure we are making the right decisions,” he said.
BGSU students concerned about the HHS mandate have also written to the BGNews to get their voices heard. Congressman Bob Latta even held an informational breakfast on the new bill, Bauer said.
Back in February, President Barack Obama tried to defuse the heated controversy about the violation of the freedom of religion. The employers at the religious corporations will no longer have to provide the preventive services. The employee can now get the services directly from the health insurance, but the church believes this compromise does not go far enough.
“It is still being forced upon people, it just changes on who is responsible for distributing that. And so that does not change the fact that there will be Christians and Catholics alike who will still have to supply for that contraception against their religious view,” Kaiser said.
Feldmeier believes, as of right now, the government did reach a compromise, but another possibility would be to suspend the mandate completely.
Suspending the mandate would mean women who are on birth control or use a form of contraception will still have to pay out-of-pocket, which can be a burden for many women.
BGSU student Monet Whirl, 20, of Lima, Ohio, has tried different methods of contraception over the years. She tried out the NuvaRing, which she loved, but had to discontinue because she could not afford it, she said.
She now has an intrauterine device that costs $900 every three years. That comes to $25 a month, she said.
Whirl does believe the new ACA bill should cover contraception, but she also does not have a religious background.
Whirl is not the only woman who has to face this problem when it comes to birth control and its cost. Money is a problem for many. Barbara Hoffman, associate director of clinical services at the Health Center, said the out-of-pocket cost all depends on the type of insurance a patient has.
“If they were paying and not using a prescription card, the cheapest would be around $17 a cycle, but then depending upon if they are paying with insurance and depending what their company may dictate what they can have, it could be as low as $17 or as high as $85,” Hoffman said.
Preventing unplanned pregnancy is not the only reason women use birth control. It can regulate women’s periods, reduce pain and help control acne, she said.
The health care controversy is much more than just the contraception issue. The Supreme Court is in the process of deciding on whether the federal government can constitutionally force citizens to buy health care. If it is found unconstitutional, the birth control portion could be scrapped completely.