Jewish groups have become embroiled in the contraception controversy on both sides of the issue. But most are satisfied with President Barack Obama’s compromise, which would make contraception available to all women without forcing religious groups to pay for it.
Many wonder why Jews would get involved in the debate, when the Catholic church is the most adamant in naming contraceptive use as immoral. Most Jews sanction the use of contraception under varying conditions. Yet Jewish groups ended up weighing on both sides of Obama’s original plan, which forced a variety of religious institutions to provide contraceptive coverage. And many advised the president on the ultimate compromise, reached February 10.
“Under the rule, women will still have access to free preventive care that includes contraceptive services—no matter where they work,” Obama said during a special White House news conference. “If a woman’s employer is a charity or a hospital that has a religious objection to providing contraceptive services as part of their health plan, the insurance company—not the hospital, not the charity—will be required to reach out and offer the woman contraceptive care free of charge, without co-pays and without hassles.”
Hadassah, the Reform movement, the Orthodox Union, the National Council of Jewish Women and Jewish Women International each welcomed the compromise.
“We commend the Obama administration for ensuring both access to contraception for all women and the robust protection of religious autonomy,” said Rabbi David Saperstein, director of Reform Judaism’s Religious Action Center.
Hadassah commended Obama’s “reaffirmation” of his commitment to free access to contraceptives for all women. “We will, however, watch closely to ensure that the new proposal does not create undue barriers to women’s access to contraceptives,” the organization said in a statement.
NCJW expressed optimism in the new plan, and said that it “protects the health needs and individual religious liberty of all women.”
The OU applauded that the new rule means, “no objecting religious employer will be required to make referrals for services to which they object.”
But the US Conference of Catholic Bishops still objects to the rule, and to one Jewish group, that’s what really matters.
“Whether or not the White House's new ‘compromise’ proposal adequately addresses the religious freedom concerns raised by the Catholic Church is for the Catholic Church to say, not us—and, frankly, not the White House, either,” Agudath Israel of America’s Washington director Abba Cohen said in a statement. “The important points here are that no religiously sponsored entity, and no religiously motivated individual, should be forced by government to violate its or his sincerely held religious principles; and that the determination of religious propriety must be left to the religious entity or individual, not to the government.”
.ORG-Connection: Hadassah, the Women's Zionist Organization of America, is a volunteer women's organization whose members are motivated and inspired to strengthen their partnership with Israel, ensure Jewish continuity, and realize their potential as a dynamic force in American society.