Birth Control and Health Care Reform: Don't Base Access to Contraception on a Wing and a Prayer


We hear plenty from religious leaders who see something wrong with contraception and I want to clear the air. People need to know that my faith teaches that access to contraception is an ethical and social good. I, along with clergy from many different faiths, support those who decide to rely upon contraception. When people are able to obtain these vital family planning services, they are able to prevent unplanned pregnancies and, when the time is right for them, have healthier children. For these reasons, a wide spectrum of religious leaders, including myself, believe that birth control should become a fully covered service.

It is hard to believe that contraception is an issue these days. National health care reform is a reality under the Affordable Care Act, and the Department of Health and Human Services is considering a list of preventive medical benefits to be fully covered, including contraception. Contraception is preventive; it helps prevent unplanned pregnancies. What is more, 38 million women are using contraceptive measures at some time – birth control is basic health care. As a member of the clergy, I believe birth control must be fully covered, with no out-of-pocket. Women need contraception, without co-pay.

It’s only right to make contraception available. My personal life experience and my work as a pastor show that an unplanned pregnancy can quickly complicate the life of a woman and her loved ones. We have learned that access to contraception has proven safe and effective in preventing unplanned pregnancies. I believe that we need to make family planning services available to all who would desire to make use of them.

Together, my husband and I are the proud parents of 8 children who range in age from 13 to 31. Many parents, as we, are grateful to enjoy the sacred blessing of children. My faith also celebrates that human beings have been graced by God with the ability to be intimate in ways that are separate and apart from child bearing. Access to safe and effective contraceptives enables us to build strong bonds of partnership, serving the wellbeing of family life in our communities. And when we look ahead to the future of our family, it is our desire that each of our children have easy and affordable access to family planning, even as we look forward to the blessing of grandchildren when our children are ready for the joy of parenthood. Contraception is and will be an essential part of their healthcare through their schooling, internships and work.

I am also proud of my church, the United Church of Christ, because we have long affirmed that women with limited financial means should be able to receive public funding in order to exercise their legal right to a full range of reproductive health services. Just as we have spoken out in the past, our voice is but one of many supportive religious voices on this issue today.

As a pastor, a wife, mother, and someday, I hope, a grandmother, I believe that every woman should be able to choose and consistently use the birth control that works best for her without cost getting in the way. People should be allowed to make and act on an informed decision when it comes to having children. Given that so many women and their loved ones are under significant financial pressure, I want to see birth control become a fully covered medical service through healthcare reform.


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