For the first time in my 32 years as a Catholic, I walked out in the middle of Mass.

I had just listened intently to my pastor’s inspiring homily. When he finished, he pulled out a letter he was obligated to read from Bishop Richard Malone of Portland.

As he read the bishop’s letter, something in me just couldn’t sit there silently for one more second. I decided I had to do exactly what the bishop exhorted Catholics to do — make my voice heard about President Barack Obama’s recent decision not to exempt Catholic institutions from the obligation to cover birth control in their employee health insurance packages.

I say this: Go, President Obama! Thank you for safeguarding access to reproductive health care in insurance coverage for all employees.

Women (and men) deserve unfettered access to reproductive choice and medical care as it is legally practiced in 21st century America. The Catholic Church cannot violate the rights of individuals to choose their own health care options.

It is un-American for people who are not Catholic or even religious to be effectively bound by the social teachings of the Catholic Church. Even among American Catholics, 98 percent use some form of contraceptive. All doubters need to do to verify that number is to look in the pews and see how many families have more than two children.

I thank President Obama for standing up for the rights of all workers to choose their own health care options. And I exhort my own bishop to stop inserting politics into the sacredness of the Mass.

Gay M. Grant, South Gardiner

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