The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Joe Conn, Rob Boston or Simon Brown

Americans United Commends Obama Commitment to Birth Control Access, but Questions Continuing Political Power of Sectarian Lobbies

Catholic Bishops, Religious Right Shouldn’t Get Veto Over Federal Health Care Policy, Says AU’s Lynn


The Obama administration's continuing commitment to birth control access is commendable, but powerful religious and political forces are still trying to roll back women's health care rights, says Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

The White House announced today that access to birth control will remain an important part of the health care reform plan. But some revisions to the plan will be made to meet the concerns of religiously affiliated institutions.

Said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, Americans United executive director, "I am glad that the president is still seeking to ensure that women have access to birth control, but Americans need to know that this battle isn't over. Powerful sectarian lobbyists and their allies in Congress are still pushing to deny individual freedom.

"Right-wing members of Congress are pushing bills that would interfere with Americans' access to birth control," Lynn continued. "Americans who believe in individual freedom and church-state separation must make their voices heard."

Added Lynn, "In a nation that separates religion and government, it is wrong to let the Catholic hierarchy and the Religious Right write laws that impose their theology. American women, including the 98 percent of Catholic women who have used birth control, have every right to be outraged by the disproportionate political influence of the handful of men who run the Catholic Church and the Religious Right."

Lynn said he is also concerned that Americans not buy into the idea that individual religious freedom should give way to the interests of wealthy religious corporations.

"Church hospital systems and church-affiliated universities are big business," Lynn said, "but that doesn't mean they should override the rights of individual Americans. Why should the alleged 'conscience rights' of big religious corporations trump the legitimate conscience rights of individual Americans?"

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.