FFRF endorses Vt. bill advancing reproductive health care access

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is pushing the Vermont Statehouse to pass a pending reproductive health care bill.

FFRF Co-President Annie Laurie Gaylor this week submitted written testimony to the Vermont House Committee on Human Services in favor of H. 663, which would expand access to birth control in health insurance programs and in educational settings. It would ensure that initiatives to provide coverage for outpatient contraceptive and birth control services, including voluntary sterilizations, would be implemented consistently across insurance plans, including Medicaid, in Vermont. Additionally, H. 663 would require school districts to make condoms freely available to students in secondary schools.

As a secular nation, our laws governing health care, including reproductive health care, must reflect science and reason, FFRF’s letter affirms. Given the alarming expansion of religiously affiliated medical services in the United States, it is crucial that the government protect and expand access to essential reproductive health care services.

Religiously affiliated health care institutions have a record of hostility toward providing comprehensive reproductive health care services, such as tubal ligations, at the expense of the patients’ health, safety and personal autonomy. FFRF’s testimony notes that even though a report from Johns Hopkins University found that serious complications only occur in less than one in 1,000 women, many religiously affiliated hospitals and medical facilities deny the procedure.

FFRF also affirms the necessity of following the recommendations of medical experts by providing students with resources that help them make empowered and informed choices about contraceptive usage. Currently, there are only 13 states that require that information taught in sex education be medically accurate. This is a profound abdication of our responsibility to ensure that our secular public education system is reflective of the best available science. Passing H. 663 is a positive step in the right direction toward this goal.

“Insurance plans and sex education programs should reflect scientific findings,” Gaylor emphasized. “H. 663 is a laudable approach to ensuring dissemination of scientifically valid information and adequate reproductive health services.”

FFRF urges the Legislature to swiftly pass H. 663 and codify comprehensive reproductive care for the citizens of Vermont.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is a national nonprofit organization with more than 32,000 members across the country, including members in Vermont. Its purposes are to protect the constitutional principle of separation between state and church, and to educate the public on matters relating to nontheism.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation, based in Madison, Wis., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit educational charity, is the nation's largest association of freethinkers (atheists, agnostics), and has been working since 1978 to keep religion and government separate.

FFRF is a non-profit, educational organization. All dues and donations are deductible for income-tax purposes.

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FFRF is a member of the Secular Coalition for America

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