The media narrative surrounding the recent uproar over a leading breast cancer charity’s decision (since reversed) to drop funding for Planned Parenthood, and the Catholic Church’s objections to new rules requiring contraceptive coverage, tends to frame these events in terms of political freedoms versus women’s rights. But the national dialogue sidesteps the gigantic elephant in the room: the United States doesn’t have a national healthcare system that delivers comprehensive care to everyone. Watch MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell state what should be obvious to all Americans:
O’Donnell is absolutely correct. Neither the health care of women, nor of anyone, should be up for debate. What Americans are witnessing is yet another limitation of our inefficient and unfair employer-based healthcare system. The entire idea of employer-based health coverage is unraveling before us. All workers should ask themselves: Why should my boss decide what kind of health care I receive? Why should anyone’s health care be subordinate to another’s religious or political ideology? Health care decisions should be made between oneself and one’s health provider – not between one’s company and the clergy.
There is a way to ensure that religious institutions can continue to operate based on their beliefs, and to protect women’s right to comprehensive health coverage. We must decouple health coverage from the workplace, and establish a publicly-financed national health care system in the United States. This way, faith-based employers can get out of the business of providing health coverage, and have their religious beliefs respected, while women can obtain the health care they need.