Health and Religion: The Clash of Profoundly Different Worldviews
Gloria Feldt: I have my religious beliefs too and they tell me that using birth control is a good thing and that birth control is basic healthcare that should be part of any insurance plan.
Gloria Feldt is the former president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Federation of America and author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power.
She is a frequent public speaker, lecturing at universities, civic and professional organizations, and national and international conferences on women, feminism, politics, leadership,media, and health. In addition to speaking on these topics, she tours with an intergenerational feminist panel, WomenGirlsLadies. She is a professor of practice at Arizona State University, where she teaches a course called “Women, Power, and Leadership.”
Feldt currently serves on the boards of the Women’s Media Center and the Jewish Women’s Archive, and on the Our Bodies, Ourselves advisory board.
In a pluralistic society, in a pluralistic democracy it’s important for people to be able to feel that their religious views are being respected and I think what often gets forgotten in this debate is that everybody has them.
It’s kind of been reduced to "we need to protect the religious views of one particular religion," but nobody argues the same argument say for example about Christian Scientists who would prefer not to use the professional healthcare system at all, but they don’t complain about the role they play or their part in paying taxes to cover other people.
That’s the attitude I think we all have to have is that what we need to do is we need to find ways to give everybody more options in their own life and not to take the options away from other people and to understand that this is not a debate between religious freedom and women’s health or a woman’s desire to be able to have sex without having babies.
What it is, is a clash of two very profoundly different worldviews. I have my religious beliefs too and my set of values and they tell me that using birth control is a good thing and that birth control is basic healthcare that should be part of any insurance plan.
So what we have to do is to find those ways to enable those who don’t believe in birth control—they actually have the option at any time not to use it, so that’s really not even the issue. So I think that we have had in the past a pretty good balance and right now there are attempts to upend that balance and the balance has been that if you’re a healthcare provider and the provision of any kind of service is beyond the bounds of what you believe in then you don’t have to do it. But as a healthcare professional you have to understand that there are many people in the world who do want that service and therefore, your obligation if you don’t choose to provide it is to refer that individual without trying to proselytize them to someone else who shares their view and will provide the service to them and I think that’s fair.
In Their Own Words is recorded in Big Think's studio.
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