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Religious Tolerance logo

In a religious freedom/liberty conflict among religious
employers, employees, and students, who wins?

Reactions to the HHS mandate from RH Reality
, Guttmacher Institute & Republican Party

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This topic is continued from the previous essay

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Additional reactions to the HHS mandate:

  • RH Reality Check "... is an online community and publication serving individuals and organizations committed to advancing sexual and reproductive health and rights." Jon O'Brien of Catholics for Choice wrote an article on RH Reality Check's web site. 1 He said in part:

    "... By all measures, the fortnight fell flat. There was no religious persecution to decry; Catholics were too busy living their lives and planning their summer vacations to show up en masse for the bishops’ rallies; and the Affordable Care Act, the threat to religious liberty (according to the bishops), was upheld by the Supreme Court.

    What we know, and what the bishops missed, is that religious freedom deserves more than a fortnight â€" and it’s about protecting more than the interests of a small group of men whose demands don’t reflect the needs and desires of the people they claim to represent.

    Throughout history, good people â€" religious and secular â€" have been harried, hunted and harmed because of their religion or in the name of someone else’s. Irish Catholics lost the right to worship, and many their lives and livelihoods, to the English crown merely because they were Catholic. European Jews, for no reason other than their faith, were persecuted for centuries, and the Shoah remains an appalling testament to the capacity of human cruelty and religious repression. But religious persecution isn’t only history. If you adhere to the Baha’i faith in Iran today, you live in fear, monitored by a government that has a history of arresting, torturing and killing members of your faith. In Indonesia, the refusal to confess a belief in God will land you, badly beaten, in prisonâ€"in 2012.

    Today’s American Catholic bishops would have us think they are the latest victims of religious persecution. Their claims denigrate the suffering of those who know the true meaning of that term. A few powerful conservative religious leaders, not joined by the majority of their faith or even of all their fellow bishops, have opened their coffers to sue the government to allow them to force others to live by their rules and to deny them what everyone else is guaranteed by our society. This isn’t about religious liberty. It’s a sham. And a dangerous one. ..."

    "It is the rights and health of men and women of every faith and of none that hang in the balance with the bishops’ latest grandstanding. When the demands of a powerful religious minority are privileged over the rights of every citizen in a society, the results are never good. We can expect the same if we acquiesce to the bishops’ demands. Hard-working families will not be able to afford contraception; with a shrinking safety net, more children will grow up in poverty. Victims of sex trafficking will not receive unbiased counseling and will endure a forced pregnancy. Lesbian, gay and transgender people will be refused jobs and services; committed [same-sex] couples will be denied the rights and benefits of marriage. Men and women won’t be able to get their prescriptions filled if their employer or pharmacist judges the use or provenance of the medicine immoral. People at risk of contracting or spreading HIV won’t learn that condoms can help save their lives and the lives of people they love. Women who need abortions, even to save their lives, will be turned away. This is not what Americans want, and it’s not what America is about.

    This isn’t a battle for religious freedom â€" at least in the way the bishops and their allies have styled it. Religious liberty is, and should be, sacred to us all. Equal justice under the law should be more than a slogan. We know that one’s conscience must lead each person to a judgment about how to act, and that conscience must not be subverted by someone else’s demand. It’s up to our leaders in government to ensure that these principles, the freedoms each American is guaranteed, are not compromised for a political gain by an influential minority â€" even, perhaps especially, when that minority claims a religious mantle." 2

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  • The Guttmacher Institute specializes in "advancing sexual and reproductive health worldwide through research, policy analysis and public education." Their findings are generally accepted by both pro-life and pro-choice organizations. They state that:

    "Contraception is basic preventive health care for women -- a simple truth that is too often lost in our national political discourse. To put facts squarely back into the debate, Guttmacher is launching a short, animated video titled "Benefits of Contraceptive Use in the United States." The video highlights that proper timing and spacing of births leads to healthier pregnancies; that contraception, when used consistently, is highly effective at preventing unintended pregnancy; and that cost can be a barrier to a woman using the contraceptive method that's right for her." 3


A key frame captured from the You Tube video is:

Frame grab   4

"The two thirds of women who use contraception consistently and correctly account for only 5% of all unintended pregnancies every year." 5

Thus, the one third of women who do not use contraception consistently and correctly account for the vast majority -- 95% -- of unintended pregnancies. The Guttmacher Institute took this second fact fact to its logical conclusion: since about 48% of unintended pregancies end in abortion, the number of abortions could be reduced to a fraction of its present value if more women used contraception.

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2012-AUG-09: Republican party TV ad criticizes President Obama for conducting "War on Religion:"

Mitt Romney's campaign for president deviated from its standard attack on the administration of President Barack Obama's economic record by accusing him of policies that constitute a war on religion. An ad featured Romney, Pope John Paul II, and Lech Walesa. It used footage taken during Romney's earllier visit to Poland:

This ad did not appear to be a consistent theme of the Romney campaign during the following month.

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This topic continues in the next essay

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How you may have arrived here:

References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Our Vision," RH Reality Check, at:
  2. "Jon O'Brien, "Fortnight For Freedom Is a Dangerous Sham. Let’s Celebrate Real Religious Freedom for All People," RH Reality Check, 2012-JUL-03, at:
  3. "New Video: Benefits of contraceptive use in the United States," Guttmacher Institute, 2012-JUL-31, at:
  4. "Benefits of Contraceptive Use in the United States," video, You Tube,
  5. "Transcript: Benefits of Contraceptive Use in the United States," Guttmacher Institute, 2012-JUL-31, at:

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Copyright © 2012 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance 
Originally written: 2012-JUL-04
Latest update: 2012-SEP-04
Author: B.A. Robinson

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