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. Icepick

    Curiously, there is NOTHING in the Bible about birth control. Imagine that.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:01 pm | Report abuse |
  2. Jennifer

    The issue is not about whether or not about whether birth control should be used or not. Or what mistakes the Catholic Church has made, etc., etc., The issue is about forcing the catholic church to pay for abortions, the morning after pill, and other forms of birth control. It is not about access...in this country birth control is about as easy to get ahold of as Tylenol.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:05 pm | Report abuse |
  3. Melissa

    Kim – I suggest you and others who believe that govt and/or religion should not be in your business – that you make sure you don't work for a catholic organization! And, for those of you who believe it's ok for government to be in everyone's business – including the Catholic faith, be it their hospitals, schools etc. If you don't like their beliefs – and want to force them to provide a drug they don't believe in and never have – then move over government and let religion back in "state." Put the 10 commandments back up on the courthouse wall, allow prayer back in school, etc., etc., etc. You can't have it just your way govt. If you want in our business as a Catholic faith – then we will be in yours'.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:08 pm | Report abuse |
  4. dreamer96

    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...

    98% 0f Catholic women all ready use birth control, just look at their families 3 or 4 kids not 10 for 12 kids..

    February 9, 2012 at 9:16 pm | Report abuse |
  5. Robert

    Personally I think it is arrogant for the Religious groups to think that their children can't come up pregnant. You can cram as much religion down a childs throat as you feel they need. But in the end children, or teens will be teens, and if they come from a low income family, chances are that the tax payers are going to fund the birth and possibly raising of their child just like they would someone who didn't go to a christian school. I say own up to it christians and quit putting yourselfe on a pedestal like you are better than everyone else just because your child goes to a christian school, and don't think that all of them will come up any better than a child raised in a public school. And don't think for one second that they won't come up pregnant just because they go to a christian school.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:27 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Rich

    For one thing, it's not just a women's issue. Male contraceptives are being developed. So let's stop the war on women rhetoric. Also I question the stats saying 52%.of Catholics support the Admin. – I bet that includes those with a nominal Catholic upbringing vs regular church attenders.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:30 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Stitch

    For those" Mightier Than Thou", OLD men sitting around opposing contraception based on "Religious Freedom". What would end this crap against women that to seek medical support through their employment / Insurance. STOP having SEX with those__ know it alls. And we would see this political hog wash
    come to a stretching HALT.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:49 pm | Report abuse |
  8. Dante666


    February 9, 2012 at 9:50 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Jeff Frank (R-Ohio) "Right Wing Insanity"

    Overheard on CNM: Battle over contraptions, rebellious freedom. Not one word has been mentioned about the school age kids who unlike thier sex starved counterparts, take an oath of celibacy and forestall sex "untill" marriage. You want to talk about "the real thing"? This is it! 😉

    February 9, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  10. banasy©

    How about this:
    No paying for birth control (or any medicine that has to do with organs or "naughty bits"), since so many organizations have such a problem with it...this, of course, includes Viagra, which helps facilitate needing birth contol pills in the first place.

    February 9, 2012 at 9:59 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Robert

    I think that our government has every right to make birth control available. Nobody is forcing anyone to take it. There aren't enough jobs for Americans now, what kind of life are children being born now going to have to look forward to anyway. I think that people having children now aren't thinking about the future of their children they are just having them for their own selfish reasons. Children born these days are going to live a living hell on earth as things are going.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:01 pm | Report abuse |
  12. J-marie

    Free speech in our country has become mindless speech. First, how dare you all who have a comment on Roman Catholic Doctrine., those without any understanding of the Church or its doctrines, This is the way we now live in this country...any and all mindless and thoughtless ideas just come forward without filter. Second, the reason it is about Religious Freedom is that the Church allows for natural birth control, but not artificial. Therefore, when the Religious employers are threatened with exorbitant penalties for not supplying FREE Birth Control, then they are being asked to go against sanctioned doctrine. Whether or not many Catholics use artificial BC is IRRELEVANT! You can not penalize the Church for following Church doctrine.
    And for all of the Catholic representatives who in their spare time have become part-time theologians, i.e. Nancy Pelosi, Kristan Gillibrand, Nita Lowry....please it is especially upsetting to see that they can not even consider the another side of the issue. PS please ask Soledad O'Brian to not attack the question of "why is this a matter of Faith" with such vitriol! All of these woman are an embarrassment to those of us who actually fought for equal rights.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:03 pm | Report abuse |
    • Robert

      ( J-Marie) Church allows for natural birth control, but not artificial . And this is why we have so many pregnant teens running around. How many Catholic parents tell their children what days it is safe for them to have sex? Yeah right like that is going to happen. And who is to say they won't some day sneek out and go to a party with alcohol and have a few to many and accidentally have sex. Oh but I forgot Christians are above that and it would never happen like it does to common kids going to a public school right..... Get your head out of the clouds and smell the coffee, this is 2012 not 1957.

      February 9, 2012 at 10:19 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Stitch

    Enough already...grown women can decide for themselves on their use of contraception. And shouldn't have OLD men making decision for them. Stop having SEX with them and this political crap would go away quickly.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:09 pm | Report abuse |
  14. Robert

    (J-marie).. Church allows for natural birth control, but not artificial
    And this is why we have so many pregnant teens running around. How many Catholic parents tell their children on what days they can and can't have sex... Oh and I forgot your children never ever sneak out and go to a party and have a little too much alcohol for sex to happen like common public school kids do huh..... Some christians are so full of themselves....

    February 9, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
  15. carrotroot

    Religious affiliated hospitals and universities are not houses of worship, they have to abide by our equality laws so they can't turn away non-believers. Therefore it shouldn't be much of a stretch to say they need to provide the same healthcare benefits as other institutions.

    February 9, 2012 at 10:14 pm | Report abuse |
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