The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is objecting to a recent HHS rulemaking which grants American women equal access to healthcare and directs health insurance companies to provide them with contraceptive services. Of course, America’s Roman Catholic bishops have their own sort of family planning; they are (presumably) celibate. Not so the females in their flock, two-thirds of whom use some form of contraception. The HHS regulation does not apply to employees of churches but to workers in the separate nonprofit corporations spun off by religious institutions. It has little to do with health reform, and everything to do with the rights of employees under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act.
Catholic hospitals, universities, and social service institutions serve a vital function for people of all faiths in the U.S., but they don’t do it with Church funds. They depend on public tax dollars from grants and government contracts, and to receive them they have formed nonprofit corporations apart from the Church. If their administrators want to deny human rights to women they employ and justify it as “Separation of Church and State,” the answer is simple: give up separate corporate status and the public funding this enables, become a legal arm of the Church, restrict activities to the dwindling membership of Catholic congregations, and fund operations out of the poor box. Adventist hospitals can pick up the slack. They have better food, anyway.
“The bishops go off the deep end,” Joan Walsh, Salon
“The Bishops’ Obsession With The Sex Lives Of Others,” Andrew Sullivan, Daily Beast
“Arguing for Obama, Justice Antonin Scalia,” Jay Bookman, Atlanta Journal-Constitution blog
“Rick Santorum Wants to Fight ‘The Dangers Of Contraception,’” Michael Scherer, Time Magazine blog
“Before current birth-control fight, Republicans backed mandates,” Kim Geiger and Noam N. Levey, Los Angeles Times
“Contraception’s Con Men,” Garry Wills, New York Review of Books blog
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