I was dismayed by the Obama Administration’s recent decision to compel some institutions run by religious organizations to provide health insurance that covers birth control. Specifically, the ruling issued by the Department of Health and Human Services said that only religious organizations that primarily employ and serve their co-religionists would be exempt from this requirement. That means that churches and synagogues are exempt but religiously affiliated hospitals, colleges and agencies are not. I agree with Archbishop Timothy Dolan and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that this ruling violates the principle of the free exercise of religion enshrined in the Bill of Rights.
The Reform Movement in Judaism is a liberal religious movement. We believe in the right of couples to use birth control when and how they see fit. We also support the use of Federal funding to provide birth control and family planning services to women who cannot otherwise afford these services. I am proud to be part of a religious Movement which supports progressive policies in the area of family planning and reproductive rights.
Nevertheless, I must object to a government policy which says that those religious movements which do not agree with these views be compelled to have their institutions follow them. If the tables were turned and we were the ones being told to do something that violated our religious principles how would we feel? As a religious minority we have to be especially sensitive to this concern. The government may be right to try to make contraception available to all those who want to use it. But, it is wrong to force those who disagree to provide it. They simply have to find another way.
p.s. The Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism does not agree with me on this matter. If you would like to learn more on their position, please read the press release.