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Women want conscience rights


MICHELLE BAUMAN

Source:
CNA
Type:
Media/Opinion
Date:
2/28/2012

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ABSTRACTWomen want conscience rights more than mandate :: Catholic News Agency (CNA) Editors Service About us Donate Spanish Portuguese Follow us: Loading News Headlines Vatican Americas Asia - Pacific US Europe Middle East - Africa Most Read Most Commented Archive Mandate Resources Abortion Advent Apologetics Benedict XVI Bible Cardinals Catechism Catholic Womanhood Church Fathers Life & Family Liturgical Calendar Liturgy Mary Politics Prayers Sacraments Sacred Arts Saints Virtue Tools Catholic Podcast RSS Feeds CNA TV CNA Audio Columns A Life Worth Living Answering the Tough Questions Bishops' Corner Book Reviews Both Oars In Catholic & Single Catholic Men Guest Columnist Harvesting the Fruit of Vatican II In Good Company Indispensable Economics Inside the Church during WWII Led Into the Truth Movie Reviews Preparing the way for the Roman Missal – 3rd Edition The New (& the Old) Evangelization The Spirit of the New Translation The Way of Beauty With Good Reason Your Moment in the Mass Documents Pope Benedict XVI Pope John Paul II Pope Paul VI Pope John XXIII Pope Pius XII Pope Pius XI Pope Pius X Pope Leo XIII Vatican II Congregation for the Doctrine of Faith Pontifical Council for the Family United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) Cardinal James Francis Stafford Archbishop Charles J. Chaput Bishop Samuel J. Aquila Catholic Womanhood Home » News » US Women want conscience rights more than mandate By Michelle Bauman Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. Washington D.C., Feb 28, 2012 / 04:09 am ( CNA ) .- The head of a group that works to elect pro-life candidates said that this election year, women want to defend their freedom of conscience against attacks by the Obama administration. “Women do not think the President and a small group of federal officeholders should succeed in co-opting freedom of conscience,” said Marjorie Dannenfelser, president of the Susan B. Anthony List. Dannenfelser told CNA on Feb. 27 that although those who oppose the Obama administration's contraception mandate have been depicted as oppressive to women's interests, many women in America actually object to the federal rule. The controversial new mandate would require employers to purchase health insurance plans that cover contraception, sterilization and abortion-inducing drugs, even if doing so violates their consciences. The mandate has sparked a storm of protest from those who argue it infringes upon the constitutionally-protected freedom of religion. The U.S. bishops along with several academic institutions and numerous religious groups have called for legislation to repeal the regulation. But those who support the rule have argued that women have a right to contraception without cost and have portrayed those who oppose it as being anti-woman. U.S. House minority leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) has recently criticized the “Republicans' anti-woman agenda,” and Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) predicted that women would rise up in outrage against the Republican party’s “hostility to women's health” in the next election. However, Dannenfelser explained, women do not want the president to arbitrarily restrict their constitutionally guaranteed right to religious liberty. “For years, 'Who decides?' was the favorite incantation from the feminist movement,” she said. While the question dodges the central issue on the topic of abortion, she explained, it is relevant to the current debate. “'Who decides' which is more fundamental: religious freedom or an ideology of reproductive health care?” she asked. Dannenfelser said that “President Obama asserts it is government, specifically himself as spokesman, who decides what a properly formed conscience is.” However, the answer to the question was already “decided some time ago and recorded as the first amendment to the U.S. Constitution,” she said. “President Obama does not have the power to now re-decide this constitutional principle through regulation.” The Susan B. Anthony List president joins numerous women who have spoken out against the suggestion that the mandate is universally endorsed by women. Over 2000 women from various religious, political and professional backgrounds have signed an open letter opposing the mandate and asking Obama’s administration and members of Congress not to speak for them in supporting it. Recent polling data also suggests that many women are not outraged by Republican opposition to the mandate, as Boxer had suggested they were. A Washington Post-ABC News poll, conducted Feb. 15 to 19, shows that GOP presidential contender Rick Santorum has enjoyed a recent increase in favorability among Republican women. Santorum, who has spoken out strongly against the mandate and voiced his own opposition to birth control as a Catholic, is now viewed favorably by 57 percent of Republican women, up 13 percent since January.  The poll also revealed that only 40 percent of Democratic women view Santorum unfavorably, wh.......