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The League of Women Voters was born more than 90 years ago from the long fight to get women the right to vote. Since 1992, when League members studied health care policy, we have worked to ensure access to quality health care for all. The League also has a strong commitment and belief that public policy in a diverse society must affirm the right of all individuals to make their own reproductive choices.

That’s why the League is so deeply concerned about recent proposals that would allow employers and health plans to block contraceptive services and discriminate against women.

By a narrow margin, the U.S. Senate recently defeated an amendment that would limit access to contraception for women if any employer or insurance plan has an undefined “religious or moral objection” to it. A couple’s decision about whether and how to limit the size of their family is a personal one and theirs alone to make. Giving employers the authority to limit available options is an inappropriate intrusion into the private lives of their employees.

We understand that not everyone agrees with the League on this subject. But we strongly believe that public institutions, including schools and hospitals that receive substantial federal assistance, should not limit the health care choices available to their employees. While no organization should be forced to violate its religious principles, institutions that serve the public at large should show the same respect for their employees’ differing beliefs that they demand the community show for their own principles.

The League of Women Voters believes that all persons, regardless of gender, should be eligible for preventive health services. Allowing employers to exclude contraceptive services is discrimination based on sex, and it’s wrong.

Jane E. George and Julia Jones are co-presidents of the League of Women Voters of the Fairfax Area