No religion can dictate our rights as women.

As a mother, wife and career woman, I got enraged with the Catholic leadership and their opposition to the new Obama health care law, which mandates that all employers offer coverage for prescribed birth control to every woman--including, due to a compromise that requires health insurance companies to offer birth control when the employer has a religious objection--employees in Catholic Institutions.

I was born into a Catholic family and went to Catholic schools all my life, but religion never dictated who I was, nor the person I became. I am married to an atheist. I believe in God but have no involvement with the church whatsoever. In fact, I've been very upset with this "institution" for a long time for not having taken a real stance against the many priests who sexually abused kids. To date, no one really has paid a price--but I digress.

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The extent of my Catholicism (if we can call it that) is based on my faith in God and a simple belief system, which basically supports good morals. I still pray at night with my kids, the very same little prayer that my Dad taught me and we all bless each other after we go over the day's happenings.

I don’t go around saying this but I’m always thankful to God and feel safe knowing he’s caring for us. This amuses my husband who says I’m crazy because "there’s actually no God.” However, this has never been an issue between us, and I also give him a blessing when we travel together and our plane takes off.

What is the real issue here? Is it about who has control? Is it about obsolete religious beliefs? The Catholics need to come to terms with the fact that these are no longer the Middle Ages. Things have changed over the years, the world changed, and as religious leaders it’s their duty to be there for the communities they serve. And in order to be there they need to be connected to reality. No birth control? Give me a break!

And let’s not forget the Catholic moral teaching that asks Catholics to make decisions with an "informed conscience." This means that we must educate ourselves about the issues, so that we understand and make decisions based on reflection, prayer and counsel. And in any case, our decisions about issues like birth control are ultimately our own and our own only.

If an informed Catholic woman doesn’t want to take birth control, she shouldn't but that doesn't mean the option should be unavailable to her female colleagues. This is absurd.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, 79.5% of people aged 18 to 24 have had sexual intercourse and 2.2% of those become pregnant. While Catholics say that unmarried young adults should not be sexually active, this position obliviously ignores the world’s reality and serves only to isolate the youth from their church. As an institution that’s supposed to help its believers, Catholics need to focus more energy on helping people facing tough decisions–-like teenage girls getting pregnant--and they also need to re-examine the ways they’re supporting young women and men who are coming to terms with their own sexuality.

Pointing fingers at a governmental action designed to provide options to women is definitely not the answer, and instead of wasting time on politics, the Catholic leaders should get up to speed with the times and allow their church members to talk openly about the issues that really matter or as an institution they will simply become obsolete.

What do you think? Can you be Catholic and take birth control?

Image via katybate/flickr