Modified Birth Control Rule Should End Controversy (But It Probably Won’t)

Today’s announcement from President Obama that his administration will modify its policy on contraception insurance coverage to allow religiously affiliated organizations to opt out of paying for contraceptive coverage and instead have insurance companies directly provide coverage should end the recent storm of controversy surrounding the birth control rule. The administration’s actions should lay to rest arguments, primarily lobbed from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the lobbying arm of the Catholic Church, that religious liberty is under attack in this country. A civil debate around health care delivery in the U.S. should resume. All of those things should happen — but time will tell.

Access to affordable birth control is essential for women and their families. Women use contraception to prevent unintended pregnancies, plan their families and protect their health. Virtually every woman of childbearing age — including 98 percent of sexually active Catholics — uses contraception at some point in her life.

For days now, the bishops and some other religious leaders have been claiming that their religious liberty is under attack. Let’s be clear: it isn’t. The bishops have been trying to use their religious beliefs to discriminate against the female employees of religiously-affiliated organizations like universities and hospitals. While everyone has a right to their beliefs, the promise of religious liberty in this country doesn’t create a blanket right to deny critical health care to the female nurses, custodians, and administrators that work for these organizations. While the original policy was constitutional and already in place in many states, this compromise allows women to receive the care they need at an affordable price, while signaling that this administration is open to the concerns of the bishops and others.

But will this be enough to satisfy the bishops and others?

As recently reported by Think Progress, the bishops have strongly suggested that the only “compromise” that would satisfy them is that NO employers should have to pay for birth control for women. Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops defines his idea of a compromise:

“That means removing the provision from the health care law altogether, he said, not simply changing it for Catholic employers and their insurers. He cited the problem that would create for “good Catholic business people who can’t in good conscience cooperate with this.” “If I quit this job and opened a Taco Bell, I’d be covered by the mandate,” Picarello said.

The idea that all employers should have the right to deny health care coverage to employers is out-of-step with public opinion and is unconstitutional. Recent polling shows that a majority of Americans agree that “employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception and birth control at no cost.” Further, the Supreme Court long ago explained that excusing individuals or institutions from neutral and generally applicable laws would devolve into a system “in which each conscience is a law unto itself.”

In coming days, on the talking heads shows and in the press, we fear you will see the bishops and others saying that they don’t even want insurance companies reaching out to their employees about birth control. You may hear them say that people of faith are under attack. But they will be wrong. Real religious freedom gives everyone the right to make personal decisions, including whether and when to use birth control, based on their own beliefs. It doesn’t give one group the right to impose its beliefs on others.

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The ACLU is clearly Anti Catholic


The ACLU has this one exactly backwards. Sad that politics trumps the Constitution.


Another win for religion and another loss for women - why do religious men hate women so much? Keep religion in the church and out of women's vaginas!!


What's wrong with that? A lot. It doesn’t require Catholic haliptoss or clinics to hand out birth control pills or devices. It doesn’t force Catholics to practice contraception. It doesn’t interfere with anyone’s religion. Religion is a work of the people. It's not something people do because they have nothing better to do. I'm sure if religion weren't around, people would find something else to do. Religion is about being better. And not from an abstract and unlivable high and mighty do this because I said so way, but making not only the religious person's life better, but everyone's. It starts with an honest recognition of where we come from, and who we were designed to be like. We were created rational and good, and that's what we're expected to act like. Actions to the contrary are bad not because we were told not to do them, but because they go against what we are. We're free people. You claim freedom to do whatever you want. We claim freedom to be good, and not have to participate in doing evil. That includes having to pay money so that other people can do what we know to be wrong. The fact is: Not everybody who works in a Catholic hospital is a Catholic.Twenty-eight states have already adopted the same requirement for health insurance.And DePaul University and Georgetown University already include contraception in their health insurance policies. So what? Because some people, even Catholics, do something, that makes it right? I hate to say it, but some people steal. Some people lie. Some people rape and murder. Some of them might even be Catholic, even if they don't act like it. Does that mean that the actions are right, or what the Church teaches is wrong? Negative on both counts. 98 percent of Catholic practice birth control, anyway The statistics I've read that cite that say have used, not are using, but that's splitting hairs. The point above stands.I would love to see statistics on the number of landed gentry in the South in, let's say, 1800, before the decline. How many of them owned slaves or supported the slave trade. Did that number make it right? Nope.Maybe it's not the bishops that are out of touch. Maybe it's the people who aren't listening.

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