The organization Women Speak for Themselves (WSFT) was recently established to acknowledge the many women whose views on contraception and the HHS mandate are not represented by so-called women’s rights groups.
In an open letter to congress (specifically to President Obama and Secretary Sebelius), WSFT outlined the concerns shared by large numbers of American women about the nature of the HHS mandate and about the fact that progressive organizations have been erroneously claiming to speak for all women in their approval of the legislation.
The letter is straightforward and to the point. It acknowledges that the voices being represented are those in line with Catholic teaching on matters of sexuality, but affirms that there are many non-Catholic women who stand with the Church as representatives of their own thoughts in this regard. These women feel slighted by the notion that potentially abortifacient drugs with a high propensity to cause physical detriment to women’s bodies are being touted as a boon to women’s freedom. The letter, penned by Helen M. Alvare, J.D. and Kim Daniels, J.D., reads:
We are women who support the competing voice offered by Catholic institutions on matters of sex, marriage and family life. Most of us are Catholic, but some are not. We are Democrats, Republicans and Independents. Many, at some point in our careers, have worked for a Catholic institution. We are proud to have been part of the religious mission of that school, or hospital, or social service organization. We are proud to have been associated not only with the work Catholic institutions perform in the community – particularly for the most vulnerable — but also with the shared sense of purpose found among colleagues who chose their job because, in a religious institution, a job is always also a vocation.
Those currently invoking “women’s health” in an attempt to shout down anyone who disagrees with forcing religious institutions or individuals to violate deeply held beliefs are more than a little mistaken, and more than a little dishonest. Even setting aside their simplistic equation of “costless” birth control with “equality,” note that they have never responded to the large body of scholarly research indicating that many forms of contraception have serious side effects, or that some forms act at some times to destroy embryos, or that government contraceptive programs inevitably change the sex, dating and marriage markets in ways that lead to more empty sex, more non-marital births and more abortions. It is women who suffer disproportionately when these things happen.
No one speaks for all women on these issues. Those who purport to do so are simply attempting to deflect attention from the serious religious liberty issues currently at stake. Each of us, Catholic or not, is proud to stand with the Catholic Church and its rich, life-affirming teachings on sex, marriage and family life. We call on President Obama and our Representatives in Congress to allow religious institutions and individuals to continue to witness to their faiths in all their fullness.
The group has accumulated well over 40,000 signatures. The organization provides fact sheets on religious freedom, the HHS mandate, and risk compensation, and maintains a blog to showcase the voices of women who do not feel benefited by the HHS mandate – and who in many ways feel that it is a blow to true womanhood. Click here to learn more or to sign the letter.