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Political Column: Religion and Politics the Great Debate

Dan Caccavale

Perhaps one of the greatest political debates is whether or not religion belongs in politics and if it does, how much religion should influence policy and decision-making. Almost everyone has some kind of opinion on the subject, but when it comes right down to it, opinion means nothing.  Those that actually make the laws and want to be re-elected, need to please both ends of the spectrum and respect both religion and politics. This is not at all easy to accomplish and causes a lot of rift among all in Congress and the President. Recently, President Obama was given the challenge of keeping everything fair for all.

Not long ago, in his health care reform law, President Obama (and Congress) made the process to acquire birth control a lot easier. The law made it so that employers giving insurance policies had to offer birth control as part of the plan. It made it possible for women to acquire birth control more easily and to pay less. President Obama went on the record at the time and said that “no woman’s health should depend on who she is or where she works.” This was re-quoted in an article on the BBC News webpage on Friday February 10, 2012.

This policy has made it more possible for women to obtain birth control and be safe. However, since the employer was basically paying for it, many religious employers have objected. Churches, religious schools, religious hospitals, or anywhere else where religion is important to the institution didn’t want to pay for something their religion disagrees with through insurance policies for their employees. This is where it gets tricky, if a woman teaching in a religious school wants birth control, under the new law the school has to provide it even though they disagree with the idea of birth control. This puts President Obama in an awkward spot; how do you keep everyone happy? You have to respect both the right to religion and the right of people who wish to choose to take birth control.

President Obama was able to figure out a way to keep both groups happy with as little harm as possible. However, insurance companies may not be as happy. What he did was alter the law so that insurance companies have to now offer the birth control service for free. This makes it so that religious groups no longer have to pay for a service they disagree with and women can still obtain birth control for free. True, the insurance companies will lose some money but the law itself does something that is very rarely done. It actually has the potential to make both ends of the spectrum happy. With the election looming over his head, this could help win over a few votes for President Obama, but if it will win him the election only time can tell.

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