How did insurance coverage of contraception shift from an issue of women’s health protection to a perceived threat to religious freedom?

"Before it was made into a religious issue, contraception was a subject where the majority of Americans were firmly on the side of women’s rights: Most people viewed it as a basic health protection, not a controversial issue. And that’s why it was also successful as a political cudgel, helping isolate extreme anti-choice advocates from the mainstream. Indeed, it was a Republican Senator, Olympia Snowe, who introduced the Equity in Prescription Insurance and Contraceptive Coverage Act (which lacked any sort of “conscience exception”) in 1999, and plenty of Republicans co-sponsored it."

- Neera Tanden, “The 1990s Roots of the Contraception Battle

Photo courtesy of ABC News

Does the controversy over the Catholic Church and health care go beyond birth control?

"But sometimes the dual mandates of these institutions—to heal the body and to nurture the spirit, to perform public functions but maintain private identities—are difficult to reconcile. That was the issue with the recent contraception controversy. The whole point of the new health care law is to make insurance a public good to which every citizen is entitled regardless of where he or she works. And, because employers have traditionally been the source of insurance for most working Americans, the law effectively deputizes employers to provide this public good. In some cases, that means forcing religious institutions to pay for benefits—such as birth control—that violate the terms of their faith."

—Jonathan Cohn, “Unholy Alliance: The controversy over the Catholic Church and health care goes beyond birth control.

Image by Edel Rodriguez.

Is the backlash against Obama’s birth-control policy overblown?

"The Republicans seem to be on the wrong side of the issue politically: Even last week, before Obama tweaked the policy, polls showed that Americans overall suppoted the contraception requirement. The latest CBS/New York Times poll shows the same thing—and, interestingly, found virtually no difference between Catholics and non-Catholics.”

—Jonathan Cohn, “What Backlash? Obama Birth-Control Policy Looks Popular