OTHER VOICES

Birth control and liberties

Posted March 12, 2012, at 5:10 p.m.

Abortion long has been a battlefront in the country’s culture wars. Opponents of abortion have cudgeled the thinking of the Supreme Court in extending the right to privacy. Virtually unmentioned in all the discussion, heated and otherwise, has been the ruling that set the foundation for the abortion decision, the 1965 high court opinion in Griswold v. Connecticut, holding, essentially, that the use of birth control was a private decision, or right, for women.

Thus it has been both astonishing and disturbing to see birth control at the center of the presidential campaign. Differences that could have been bridged reasonably — and were in a proposal from the Obama White House — have escalated into a sharp partisan battle.

Republicans have seized the moment to advance their portrayal of the president’s health care plan as a vast overreach by the government, a trampling of religious liberties no less. They seem to have little regard for the tone and impact regarding the liberties of women. The matter reached a point recently in which the U.S. Senate narrowly defeated a Republican proposal to let employers and health insurance companies deny coverage for contraceptives and other items they find objectionable on religious or moral grounds.

All of this stems from a worthy provision of the new health care law that requires insurers to cover certain preventive services without co-payments or deductibles.

An accommodation shouldn’t be so hard — unless partisans are convinced of an advantage in fanning and prolonging the argument.

Akron (Ohio) Beacon Journal (March 6)

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