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Letters & Op-Eds - 2014

Bosses should not dictate their employees' healthcare decisions

Sara Hutchinson

3 March 2014

The newly introduced "Boss Bill" is an important step in ensuring that bosses' personal religious beliefs do not trump a woman's healthcare needs and access to necessary care. It protects women and families from government sanctioned religious intrusion into their private lives and protects the fundamental right of New Yorkers — and Americans—to follow our consciences when it comes to reproductive health decisions. Catholics in New York will certainly agree.

New York state has been a national leader, again and again, passing laws that protect individuals against discrimination. Through the "Boss Bill," New York state has yet another opportunity to step forward and lead the way. The bill will protect the reproductive rights of women, ensuring that a woman will not lose her job or be discriminated against if she decides to access birth control via her health insurance or with her own money.

That's why Catholics in New York will applaud the "Boss Bill." Under the bill, New Yorkers will be able to use their health insurance coverage to make personal, private medical decisions and follow their consciences when it comes to whether and when to start a family, regardless of where they work.

These are Catholic values. These are New York values. These are American values. Legislators would do well to remember that the state's 34 bishops do not represent the views of the majority of Catholics in New York state.

The bishops have clearly failed to convince the Catholic faithful in the pews to conform to ultraconservative teachings on sex, sexuality and reproductive health. Among the 70 million US Catholics, 99 percent of sexually active women use or have used a method of contraception banned by the hierarchy. Now the Bishops are turning to the U.S. Supreme Court, U.S. Congress, and state houses nationwide to enforce restrictive policies on everyone — Catholic and non-Catholic alike.

Opponents of the birth control benefit in the Affordable Care Act believe that an employer's religious convictions should be allowed to trump the rights of a female employee to access the reproductive healthcare she needs. This is abhorrent, and against the American tradition of religious liberty for all people. It goes against the Catholic traditions of the primacy of conscience, a defense of workers' rights and support for social justice.

This letter was originally published by the Legislative Gazette.