February 9th, 2012
08:06 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Battle over contraception, religious freedom

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

Democrats and Republicans are grappling over a pending federal rule requiring religiously affiliated employers to provide full contraception coverage to women. So are our readers, who posted several comments in defense of birth control. Others said people should step back and think about the implications of this policy.

Contraception controversy consumes D.C., campaign

Here are arguments on each side of the issue.

LiviClaire: "This pits religious freedom for organizations vs. religious freedom for individuals. As an individual you have the right to choose whether or not to get contraceptives according to your religious beliefs. But should an organization that employs you have the right to deny you contraceptive coverage in your personal health plan? This "mandate" is not for individuals (who can always choose) but for organizations that cover individuals. I say let individuals decide if they need contraceptives. Not their employers."

tedkingston: "These are nonprofit entitites, trying to make the world a better place, and the big government bureaucracy is MANDATING that they sacrifice their values in favor of what government elites think is best for individuals. By the way, there are birth defects related to birth control and other problems. Do you really think a drug that can cause birth defects is good for you? Do you really think it's good to mandate charities provide it for their employees, against their organizational values? Epitomizes socialism/fascist liberal movement in this country. That the people can't take care of themselves and the government knows better."

An interesting discussion began about pregnancy prevention techniques.

Mary555: "Two years ago my son attended a weekend retreat for engaged couples put on by the Catholic Church. He and his fiance were the only non-Catholics. One of the classes was about how to prevent pregnancy without using the pill. So the church officially endorses birth control - just that you do not use an effective method. Over the course of the weekend they learned that all of the other couples were engaging in premartial sex and all the women were taking the pill. In other words, the Catholic Church makes everyone liars and even the Catholic Church believes in birth control. Time for the Catholic Church to go to confession and atone for its past sins by allowing couples to practice effective birth control and start dispensing the pill in Third World countries that desperately need population control as part of the ministries to the poor."

But another reader responded and said such courses can be quite beneficial.

jlerari11: "Your statement is intentionally misleading in that you are applying too broad of a definition to the term 'birth control,' and implying that any methods to control birth rates are the same. Do you consider abortion an effective birth control method? How about castration? Effective, I suppose, but hardly the same thing. I am a non-Roman Catholic Christian, but I have attended the classes you are referring to with my wife who is RC. The Catholic Church teaches 'Natural Family Planning,' which is far different than contraception for a number of reasons. The idea is that God does allow for sex for reasons other than procreation. He gave us about 20 days out of a woman's 28-day cycle that you can have sex and almost guarantee no pregnancy. It is surprisingly simple to avoid pregnancy if you and your spouse simply pay attention to details of the woman's cycle. Contraception on the other hand is at best 'convenient' for women in that she can ignore her cycles if not stop them altogether. I'm very surprised that any woman who one day plans to have children is not concerned with what contraception does to your hormones and fertility. Contraception at the worst occasionally causes the spontaneous abortion of new life, disrupts the woman's normal cycles tricking her body into thinking that she is continually pregnant (which in turn leads to moodiness and a decreased sex drive), and increases a woman's chances for breast, liver and cervical cancer."

This reader said people should relax.

catluck: "The most baffling thing about this is the temperature of the rhetoric. We're talking about discounted birth control. Calm down. This is just a minor policy detail, not the rise of the fourth reich."

Another said they need birth control for health reasons.

Meredith Newell: "I was prescribed birth control at the age of 15 (several years before becoming sexually active) to combat chronic ovarian cysts. It also helps lessen severe acne, regulate menstruation and lessen PMS symptoms. Birth control isn't just for birth control, and it needs to be covered by insurance."

One person said there might be psychological issues at play.

bigtimecynic: "Why do conservative men hate the idea of women having sex? Sigmund Freud could write a thousand books on the modern American conservative male."

Some wondered if Viagra would be covered.

clarke: "How simple are people in there thinking. Birth control being offered doesn't mean you have to take it. Birth control pills are used for other female medical conditions other than birth control. No one is saying you have to take them, but they are there if you do. What, pray tell, is the problem? Let me ask: Is Viagra covered for men if it is needed? Don't offer it or cover it, perfect means of birth control. It is just wrong not to cover birth control pills, we don't live in the dark ages. I sure hope Washington does not back down."

Kimip: "Yes it is, and last time I checked the only thing it was used for was getting an erection. Go figure."

But another noted that the issue goes beyond just pills and into legal issues.

CactusThorn: "The issue is not contraception; can an institution that does not believe it is morally correct be forced to pay fot it?"

Still others said they believe a lot of people are uninformed.

judeluke1976: "I'm sure all the people in here have master's and doctor's of Catholic theology and have studied in-depth the Catholic Church's philosophical and moral reasons for opposing the use of artificial contraceptives. This the the issue with comment sections; everyone has an opinion, but few have knowledge of the subject. I bet 99% of the people leaving comments have never even read a church document on the subject. It's like a new student trying to lecture the professor."

Well, what do you think, then? Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Note: Comments have been turned off overnight, and will be brought back in the morning.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Health • Overheard on CNN.com • Politics
soundoff (54 Responses)
  1. Mark balasa

    I want jonathan good luck to know we are middle bird in nigeria,we are not north in case of speach or programe.if today nigeria will be divid we will be country of ourself, like wht bush said all musilam are terrorise.we christan in middle birth we make mistake by fighting our follow brother in the east,and now we are sofaring the england that did this keep quiet we want to be divid from musilam,ebo to stax middle to stay let the far noth also go let them go and be doin there esur of boko haram.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:20 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Ryan FA

    My thoughts are that it is a difficult issue. However, the mandate is being forced upon non-profit, private, and religious organizations that do not believe in contraception and abortifacients. Someone said that it is uncanny the amount of comments from people without any knowledge of Catholic theology. I, as a Catholic, do not find Catholc theology oppressive at all. It would be wiser for many to actually study our beliefs, and why we believe them. The Catholic spirituality of the body and on life glorifies the dignity of each human. The Church has consistently advocated against the use of contraceptives because it puts creation and life in human hands. The Church also worries that contraception allows for sex "al la carte". Anyone who has studied any modern research into our sex crazed society knows its damaging affects. Is it any wonder that since the "sexual revolution" that divorce rates have gone up? Even our biology, which many libertines will suggest wants us to have sex al la carte, actually promotes monogamy. Women actually produce a chemical within their brain that helps cement them emotional to their partner. After multiple partners this process actually breaks down, and it becomes more difficult to bond with their partner. My point is that their are very valid reasons the Church believes what it does. Secondly, the Church is asking that it be allowed to live out its beliefs (that harm no one) in peace within its institutions.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:23 pm | Report abuse |
  3. ???

    This is just my opinion, but this is neither a social or a religious issue. Originally, I heard that the president wanted federal employee's health insurance to also cover contraceptives. This has nothing to do with the Catholic church or women's rights, no, this is purely a fiscal issue. Why you might ask? Extending health insurance coverage to contraceptives would save these people a lot of money, not to metion the easy accessibility to contraceptives. Is the government forcing these employees to take contraceptives? Not in a million of years, let alone with all of the spin doctors in some news media as well as in politics saying this and that about how Obama is doing now and next. All he is proposing is to save a little extra money over some pills and condoms. Is it really that hard to pass such a fiscally conservative bill? Absolutely not. Unfortunatley, with all of this shifting in paragims going on both the left, right, and in the middle (!), yes...

    February 9, 2012 at 11:33 pm | Report abuse |
    • Mary

      Excellent point. 🙂 much agreed

      February 9, 2012 at 11:40 pm | Report abuse |
  4. chrissy

    @ dennis, would you rather pay welfare for people who have too many kids and no money to support them?

    February 9, 2012 at 11:35 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      I agree with this 100% no more welfare babies in 2011... I guess Christians think that they can and their kids will just have sex when they know they can't get pregnant at that certain time of the month...YEAH RIGHT.. me and my first wife tried the rythem thing, trust me it don't always work. And besides I highly doubt that the average christian family would teach their kids what time of the month it is safe for them to have sex. I guess christians only think that our common public school kids can get pregnant and theirs are above and better than them because they are christians.
      Welfare and tax payers I'm sure are raising many children accidentally born into a christian home that couldn't afford an un-planned pregnacy.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:45 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Mr. President

    Trust me. I know what is good for all americans. Do as a tell you. There is no freedom here. My Government rules all.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:37 pm | Report abuse |
  6. John

    Birth control costs less than birth. I want health insurance to be affordable. Therefore I support health insurance coverage of birth control.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:41 pm | Report abuse |
  7. me

    It would appear that Nicole Saidi is a huge George Orwell fan. I think she really thinks she is "Big Brother".
    Now here is my opinion about religion. I think religion is a myth created thousands of years ago to make people fearful of independent thoughts and ideals. Pretty simple, right?
    I mean, do people really believe someone will be truthful because they put a hand on a bible and swore to it? (Nixon did it and look how that turned out!) I think religion should be put back where it belongs...back to when people thought the earth was flat.
    Okay Nicole Saidi...let's see how long it takes you to delete my comment this time.

    February 9, 2012 at 11:51 pm | Report abuse |
    • nsaidi

      That's Big Sister to you. I don't know what to tell you. Actually, out of all the comments you've posted, this one is probably the one of the best I've seen from you. Thanks for the awesome, well-thought-out comment.

      February 9, 2012 at 11:59 pm | Report abuse |
    • Dee

      Ummm you do realize this article is also about birth control? So your babble about your personal opinion on religion is kind of in left field. I mean why bother commenting on something you have no belief in or passion for? Somehow you just sound bored and ignorant....just saying

      February 10, 2012 at 12:18 am | Report abuse |
  8. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    What is that the Catlicks practice. The Rivit Method? Put your right foot forward, your left one back. Do the hokie pokie.... 🙂

    February 10, 2012 at 12:03 am | Report abuse |
  9. dreamer96

    It's a government take over...that's what they called the end of slavery, a woman right to vote, civil rights bills, minimum wage laws...ending segregation in our schools..first black sports players..blacks in the military, gun registration,...the foundation of the Department of education, the foundation of the EPA, the Clean air and water bill, the foundation of the NRC...the Seat belt laws...etc.

    Birth control argument is really about money...having higher insurance payments to the tax free churches, schools, and hospitals....and the tea party saying no new taxes.

    28 states already have a law like this...many do not exempt the churches this law is better for eight states since Federal Law trumps state laws....some have a small co-pay to offset the cost...

    It's just a matter of complying with Federal workers rights...a Catholic CEO of a Corporation has to do the same for the workers in his corporation too.

    and most American Catholic women already use birth control anyway..And every Sunday at Mass the Catholic Leaders in their Churches see Catholic families of 3 or 4 kids not the 10 or 12 of the past...they know these families are using birth control too.

    February 10, 2012 at 12:07 am | Report abuse |
  10. nsaidi

    The conversation has been pretty active today. Thanks everyone. Just so you know, I'm closing down comments on this post at 12:30 a.m. ET because we won't be able to keep as good of an eye on it overnight. Please get your thoughts in before then, if you're working on anything, and we'll turn the comments back on tomorrow.

    February 10, 2012 at 12:14 am | Report abuse |
  11. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Kind of ironic and all, discussing sex and contraception, on a sub-header of a section named "This Just In". Sleazy!

    February 10, 2012 at 12:15 am | Report abuse |
  12. migeli

    Once again the Repugs divert our attention from the real issues so they can win and go right back and pursue the same Bush policies that nearly wrecked this country.Sole purpose to remove this president from office.The economy is improving despite their efforts to impede progress and blame it on Obama.Not one constructive idea from any Repug candidate.Just lie and blame game. Obama 4 more years.

    February 10, 2012 at 12:27 am | Report abuse |
  13. nsaidi

    Hi everyone, shutting down the comments area for the night, but we'll be back in the morning. See you, and thanks for participating!

    February 10, 2012 at 12:30 am | Report abuse |
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