By Janet Hill, Coalition of Labor Union Women (CLUW), National CLUW Vice President (United Steelworkers)

Catholic bishops are pressuring the Obama administration to dilute the rule proposed by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to allow women access to birth control without paying out of pocket. There is a narrow exemption that allows religious nonprofits to opt out.  The bishops want to expand the exemption to cover schools, hospitals and social service agencies.

The solution to the problem is quite clear; the bishops can refuse to take birth control pills if offered to them.

While they have the best interests of the women employed at their hospitals, universities and social services agencies in mind, they can offer themselves and their employees paid child care leave and on-site child care.  Should they wish to treat themselves for the other health issues that birth control pills are used to treat they are free to do so.

The bishops seem to be lacking in support since Fordham University, Georgetown University, and DePaul University, for instance, all offer their employees’ health plans that cover contraception, as does Catholic Healthcare West, a large Catholic hospital system in California, Nevada and Arizona.

They seem to be lacking in support from their own parishioners since a survey by  the National Survey of Family Growth indicates that sexually active Catholic women older than 18 are just as likely to use birth control as non-Catholic sexually active women (99%)

The choice here is clear – offer contraception and if you don’t believe in it don’t use it!

Cross-posted from HERvotes

Part of the #HERvotes blog carnival.

Check out the action petitions:

Catholics for Choice

National Women’s Law Center

Feminist Majority Foundation

Planned Parenthood Federation of America

NARAL Pro-Choice America

Physicians for Reproductive Choice and Health

National Council of Jewish Women