Contraception, the Catholic Church, the President and Politics

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Hour 1

The Obama administration announced last month that it would require religious hospitals, colleges and other institutions, like those affiliated with the Catholic Church, to provide health care coverage for contraception.  The decision has ignited a passionate debate over religious freedom, the conscience exemption and the rights of women to control their own health care. On one side are those who say that because the Catholic Church opposes birth control, it should not be required to cover it and that the administration’s attempt to require they do so can be seen as an intrusion of the government into the affairs of religious groups. On the other side are women’s health care advocates who say that women employed by Catholic hospitals and universities should have the same rights to contraceptive coverage as other women and that allowing women to control their own bodies in accordance with their own beliefs is an example of religious liberty.  Not surprisingly, the issue has become a highly political one in this election year. Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney lashed out at the administration for seeking to curtail religious freedom, Newt Gingrich called the decision a war against religion, and Rick Santorum accused the Obama administration of being “hostile to people of faith, particularly Christians, and specifically Catholics.” We’ll look at all sides of the decision and how it is influencing the 2012 presidential campaign with SALLY STEENLAND of the Center for American Progress and author MICHAEL SEAN WINTERS, who writes for The National Catholic Reporter.

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[audio: 020912_100630.mp3]

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