Savino Asks Church To Recognize Reproductive Health Rights

State Senator Diane Savino, along with Senators Liz “no relation to Carl” Krueger and Tom Duane from Manhattan, is asking Catholic Bishops to reconsider their stance against offering employees reproductive health care through their insurance plans.

“We need the church to recognize that acknowledging that Catholic women are practicing birth control is not a step backwards for the Church. In fact, it’s a step forward,” Savino told the Legislative Gazette. “And that’s where we need to go. Forward. Not backward. Not back to the days when women had 18 children and buried half of them. That is not progress for women.”

The three downstate pols have come together with the group Catholics for Choice, as well as Concerned Clergy for Choice, in expressing support for President Obama’s decision to not exempt religious institutions from provisions of the Affordable Health Care Act that deal with access to birth control. While the final wording states the the insurer would be providing the actual contraception, American Bishops remain up in arms over giving workers – whether directly or indirectly – access to birth control.

From Legislative Gazette:

Savino, an Italian-Irish Catholic said she is asking the Church to recognize that Catholics are finding ways to deal with family planning. She cited her own family as an example. Her great-grandmother had 18 children, with only six surviving into adulthood.
“Somewhere along the line we figured out how to deal with family planning on our own, but it has put us in conflict with our Church that says we aren’t supposed to do that,” Savino said.

To many, this fight is a throwback to the 1960’s and 70’s – when parish priests met resistance from many of the young couples they attempted to lecture on the evils of birth control. While many local churches have long given up such outspoken stances, the Vatican has never changed its official position.

While a recent statement by Pope Benedict XVI, which included the admission that condoms may be morally acceptable for the prevention of disease, has kept many liberal Catholics – including Senator Duane – optimistic, it would take a much more significant sea change in Church policy in order for contraception to gain outright acceptance.

“Even the Pope, and I can’t explain how he does it, but he has some convoluted way where he says condoms are okay,” Duane said. “So if he can take that step, he can support reproductive health care for women.”

State Senator Diane Savino represents District 23, which includes much of the North Shore of Staten Island. In Brooklyn, District 23 includes Coney Island, as well as parts of Bay Ridge, Sunset Park, Borough Park and Bensonhurst. Senator Savino also chairs the Senate Standing Committee on Children and Families.

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