Readers Write: Should Obamacare honor the rights of individuals or institutions?

Letters to the Editor for the weekly print issue of December 24, 2012: Government shouldn't privilege the teachings of one religion over another on any part of health-care access. And equating women's access to health care with an impingement on religious liberty is a distraction.

Protecting individuals vs. institutions

The Monitor's View of Dec. 10, "Balancing health and faith," concludes that the Affordable Care Act overreaches in mandating that religious-based employers offering secular services provide contraceptive services as part of employee health insurance.

This debate is about basic respect for individuals' moral agency to make decisions about their sexual and reproductive health without government interference or legal restrictions. As part of our nation's commitment to church-state separation, there can be no room for government privileging the teachings of one religion over another on any part of health-care access.

Hundreds of religious leaders from across the theological spectrum have joined together in affirming access to family planning as a moral imperative. No single religious voice can speak for all faith traditions on contraception. Women and men must have the right to decide whether to apply the principles of their own faith to family planning decisions, and to do so they must have access.

J. Michael Cobb

Director of outreach and communications

Religious Institute

Westport, Conn.

This editorial distorts the reality of the nuanced relationship between the freedom individuals have to make personal decisions about their health care and the perceived "rights" of institutions. Religious liberty and women's health are fundamentally linked. In order for a woman to follow her own religious tradition and act according to her own conscience and beliefs, she must be able to make her own decisions about health care. That ability starts with access – which certain religious employers hinder by not offering insurance coverage for contraception and other products.

Equating women's access to health care with an impingement on religious liberty is a distraction. Groups that effectively deny access to contraception paint a misleading picture of what religious liberty means, whom it protects, and how most people of faith feel about reproductive health.

Nancy K. Kaufman

National Council of Jewish Women

New York

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.