The Catholic Church's Game With Women's Health

02/10/2012 12:22 pm ET | Updated Apr 11, 2012

As a Boston College sophomore in my 15th year of Catholic education, I am very familiar with the Catholic Church's opposition to birth control despite the fact that 98 percent of Catholic women have used contraception. Boston College, for example, continues to prohibit the distribution of condoms or birth control on campus despite the fact that 90 percent of the student body signed a resolution in 2009 to access to sexual health resources on campus. This underscores the huge gap between the views of the Church and Catholic universities and practicing Catholics.

I strongly support the Obama administration's decision to require all non-profit organizations, including Catholic hospitals and universities, to pay their insurers to cover the cost of women's preventive services, without being charged a co-pay or deductible. Those who argue that this is an attack on religious freedom fail to recognize that churches are exempt from this requirement due to the Conscience Clause, which also ensures that Catholic doctors are not forced to write prescriptions for contraception nor are Catholic women forced to buy or use contraception.

In this decision, President Obama is showing his commitment to both to respecting religious beliefs and increasing access to important preventive services. The decision to exempt churches is consistent with the President's commitment to religious liberty and record of leading with his values and his faith. Over the last three years, the Obama administration has built strong partnerships with religious organizations that help serve the common good.

The policy is extremely important to women, many of whom could not otherwise afford $600 a year to cover the cost of contraception. Access to affordable contraception is an important health measure that has broad support among physicians and gynecologists. It is well known that using contraception reduces the risk of gynecological cancers and is often used to treat women's health conditions, such as abnormal bleeding, ovarian cysts and anemia.

The new provision will not only save women money but it will also provide a higher level of quality care. It ensures that women, regardless of their employer, will have access to preventive health measures at a low cost. Most importantly, this policy allows women to make their own health decisions rather than having the decisions made for them by the Church.