As part of President Obama's commitment to increase health care for women and reduce the need for abortion services, the Affordable Care Act - broadly supported by religious organizations in the United States - will require that most insurance companies cover women's preventative services, including contraception, beginning this August.
Churches and other houses of worship are exempt from being required to provide contraception if they have a religious objection (some do, many don't) but some faith-based groups, such as those that receive federal funding and that hire people from various faith backgrounds, will be required over time to follow the same guidelines as other employers. For some, this has been understandably controversial. People of good faith sometimes come to different conclusions on difficult issues and President Obama has always respected even those who might occasionally disagree with him.
There is, however, strong support from religious Americans for contraception. The Guttmacher Institute notes that 98% of Roman Catholic women have used contraception and just recently the Public Research Institute found that "85% of Catholics support expanding access to birth control for women who cannot afford it." Many Christian and Jewish bodies have official positions that strongly support contraception to help stop unwanted pregnancies, reduce HIV/AIDS and other STDs, and to lower the overall costs of health care for women. Religious leaders from various traditions have praised the President.
As a minister, a husband and a father, I want to thank President Obama and his administration for making sure that the Affordable Care Act works well for women and families. This is exactly what so many of us in the faith community hoped for when we called on Congress to pass this important legislation.