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Why New Birth Control Benefits are the Right Choice and Why Religious Conservatives Have it Wrong

In a country of alarmingly high unplanned pregnancy, American women need access to affordable birth control for economic and health reasons.

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The initial decision to require health insurance plans to cover birth control as preventive care for women, with no copays, was made last summer. The question resolved in January concerned religious employers, and the new rule resulted in vociferous complaints from the US Conference of Catholic Bishops – but here, unlike in its decision on Plan B access, the Obama administration decided to do the right thing for girls and women.

More than ninety percent of sexually active adults will use contraception during their lifetimes. On this issue, Catholics behave the same way as non-Catholics in spite of church teachings. It makes no sense to invoke the principle of religious liberty to allow a small group with religious views at odds with the vast majority of the country to impose their views on millions of women who do not agree the them. It is time to recognize the contradictions of a private health care system that exists only because of government subsidies. Avoiding unwanted pregnancies is too important to be left in the hands of a small number of men in robes.

June Carbone is the Edward A. Smith/Missouri Chair of Law, the Constitution and Society at the University of Missouri-Kansas City.

Naomi Cahn is the John Theodore Fey Research Professor of Law at George Washington University Law School. She is the author of numerous books and law review articles on gender and family law.

Cahn and Carbone are the co-authors of Red Families v. Blue Families.