As you might already know, the Institute of Medicine recently recommended that all health insurance plans should provide free coverage for prescription birth control, breast-pump rentals, counseling for domestic violence, and annual wellness exams and HIV tests.

While reasonable policy to most people, the move immediately drew criticism from the religious right. For example, Jeanne Monahan at the socially conservative Family Research Council said that many Americans object to birth control on religious grounds. “They should not be forced to have to pay into insurance plans that violate their consciences. Their conscience rights should be protected,” she said.

Is Monahan correct? Are your rights being violated when health-insurance plans are required to cover procedures you find objectionable due to your religious beliefs? The Economist argues the answer is absolutely not. You should click through to read the entire article, but here’s a snippet:

America has far and away the highest rates of teen pregnancy in the developed world. Research consistently indicates there are a lot of women out there, particularly low-income women, who want to have more control than they do over their reproductive timing. They don’t want to be having babies. I don’t want them to be having babies they don’t want, particularly if I have to pay for those babies. Requiring insurers to cover birth control and counseling will lead to these women having more control over their reproductive choices. It means that, as everywhere in the world where women gain control over their reproductive choices, they will have more freedom. If, of all the things that might offend your conscience at this moment in world history, you pick this, then I submit you’ve got a weird conscience.

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