AlvarÃ© Op-Ed Appears in Washington Post
In an op-ed appearing in The Washington Post, Professor Helen Alvaré argues that the Department of Health and Human Services contraception mandate is an attack on religious freedom thinly disguised as a right to free contraception for women.
Offering statistics supporting the idea that women are generally more closely aligned with their faith than men, Alvaré says, "So when you undercut religious freedom, you undercut women." She suggests the mandate is "blatantly anti-woman," saying the mandate places the burden of pregnancy prevention entirely on women, undermines parents' duties and rights respecting their children, and raises the spectre of imposing abortion insurance on all.
"If the government is panicked that only 98 percent of sexually active American Catholic women have ever used contraception, it could obviously step up its own already massive distribution programs to close the gap," Alvaré says. "But it should leave religious freedom alone and stop claiming to speak on behalf of all women."
HHS doesn't speak for me, or many women, The Washington Post, March 22, 2012. By Helen Alvaré.
"In the propaganda surrounding the mandate, HHS seems to suggest that women’s only stake in the matter is 'free' contraception. This is a shallow — and frankly demeaning — view of women, who, equally with men, have an important stake in the preservation of religious freedom in the United States.
"Three months ago, I drafted an open letter to the administration, framing women’s opposition to the contraception mandate. I sent it to two dozen friends, asking their support. Twelve weeks later, and strictly on the basis of woman-to-woman emailing, that letter boasts 28,000 women’s signatures, now visible at www.womenspeakforthemselves.com
"My inbox is flooded with stories from nurses, teachers and social workers at religious institutions that are serving the neediest Americans. These professionals are in positions that primarily attract women; tens of thousands of women choose the unique environment that specifically religious institutions can provide. These women are wary of anything that undercuts religious values where they work."