POLITICAL observations & opinions

* The flap about contraceptives for women who work in Catholic non-religious institutions (ie, hospitals and universities) is not a case of government overreach by the Obama administration. It is very clearly a case of overreach by the Catholic Church, who want to deny their non-Catholic (and non-observant Catholic) female employees a benefit every other woman in America is entitled to.

Posted by Lew Weinstein on February 9, 2012

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update … Obama made the decision himself (reported by Politico 2/10/12) …

  • In the end, President Obama was motivated by personal conviction
  • He made the passionate case that several million women — many neither Catholic nor rich enough to pay $60 a month for contraception — should have access to free birth control, even while working for church-run institutions.
  • He was also encouraged by the endorsement of senior adviser David Plouffe, a trusted political aide who reportedly reviewed private polling data and concluded that the vast majority of Catholic voters, who don’t adhere to the church’s dictates on birth control anyway, wouldn’t punish Obama for his decision.
  • Obama may have discovered his most effective political opponent of 2012 in NY Archbishop Timothy Dolan, a skilled tactician who is using his post as president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops to accuse the president of the United States of betrayal.
  • Dolan has a history of picking fights with high-profile Democrats …
    • calling out Biden and House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) for “misrepresenting” church doctrine on abortion.
    • He said Notre Dame made “a big mistake” by inviting pro-abortion rights Obama to speak there in March 2009.
  • Dolan used the annual National Prayer Vigil for Life, which marks the anniversary of Roe v. Wade, to call on Catholics to “speak out for the protection of conscience rights and religious liberty.”
  • Dolan published sharp op-eds in USA Today and The Wall Street Journal
  • By the weekend of Jan. 28, dioceses across the country had gotten word from the Catholic leadership: Talk it up from the pulpit.

The Catholic leadership wrote a letter

to all the bishops of the United States

suggesting the bishops ask their clergy to read a letter

to their congregations criticizing the ruling.

http://dyn.politico.com/printstory.cfm?uuid=D3588E93-B45F-4925-8561-DCFEECCF813A

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LMW COMMENT …

  • President Obama has very purposely put himself on the side of …
    • the overwhelming majority of Catholics who do not agree with their Church’s position on birth control (remember, we are not talking about abortion, where opposing views have far more advocates), 
    • and on the side of the non-Catholic women who work for Catholic institutions (hospitals and universities, not churches, which are clearly exempt).
  • On the substance Obama is without doubt correct – all women deserve equal access to birth control options. 
  • On the politics, we’ll have to see how hurtful the reactionary Catholic hierarchy will be. I can only hope Plouffe is right.
  • I personally hope the Catholic hierarchy is rejected by their members on this issue. 
  • It is worth noting that this same Church hierarchy has failed miserably to protect Catholic children from sexual attacks by priests, and continues to cover-up and enable such heinous practices.
  • The centuries-long Catholic opposition to birth control has been a major factor in worsening the plight of the poor all over the globe.
  • Isn’t it interesting that Archbishop Dolan has no objection to full coverage of Viagra with no co-pay (perhaps used by child-abusing priests), but objects to birth control for non-Catholics. The hypocrisy is stunning!

… and, by the way, aren’t tax exemptions for religious institutions

conditioned on those institutions staying out of politics?

  • Dolan and the others can preach whatever they want to their own members, but they have no right trying to dictate their religious beliefs to the rest of us.

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Gail Collins writes in the NYT (2/9/12) …

  • You have heard, I’m sure, that the Catholic bishops are in an uproar over an Obama administration rule that would require Catholic universities and hospitals to cover contraceptives in their health care plans.
  • The Republican presidential candidates are roaring right behind.
  • Mitt Romney claimed the White House was trying to “impose a secular vision on Americans who believe that they should not have their religious freedom taken away.”
  • Catholic doctrine prohibits women from using pills, condoms or any other form of artificial contraception.
  • A much-quoted study by the Guttmacher Institute found that virtually all sexually active Catholic women of childbearing age have violated the rule at one point or another, and that more than two-thirds do so consistently.
  • The bishops have the right — a right guaranteed under the First Amendment — to preach that doctrine to the faithful. They have a right to preach it to everybody.

The problem here is that the bishops are trying

to get the government to do their work for them.

They’ve lost the war at home,

and they’re now demanding help from the outside.

  • And they don’t seem in the mood to compromise. Church leaders told The National Catholic Register that they regarded any deal that would allow them to avoid paying for contraceptives while directing their employees to other places where they could find the coverage as a nonstarter.
  • The churches themselves don’t have to provide contraceptive coverage. Neither do organizations that are closely tied to a religion’s doctrinal mission.
  • We are talking about places like hospitals and universities that rely heavily on government money and hire people from outside the faith.
  • We are arguing about whether women who do not agree with the church position, or who are often not even Catholic, should be denied health care coverage that everyone else gets because their employer has a religious objection to it.
  • If so, what happens if an employer belongs to a religion that forbids certain types of blood transfusions? Or disapproves of any medical intervention to interfere with the working of God on the human body?

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/09/opinion/collins-tales-from-the-kitchen-table.html?partner=rss&emc=rss

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LMW COMMENT …

The Catholic Church has a long history – within its posture as the one true religion – of seeking to impose its will on secular governments. Separation of Church and state has for many centuries been viewed by the Church as a disaster.

In the United States, we have a constitutionally mandated separation of church and state. Yet the Catholic Church still tries to impose its will on our government at every opportunity it can.

In this case – contraception – the Church has failed to convince its own parishioners of the validity of its position. So it seeks to have the government do for it what it cannot do for itself.

They are even, as Gail Collins points out above, rejecting any approach that would allow the Church to avoid paying for contraceptives while directing their employees to other places where they could find the coverage

This is not a case of government overreach by the Obama administration.

It is very clearly a case of overreach by the Catholic Church,

who want to deny their non-Catholic (and non-observant Catholic)

female employees a benefit every other woman in America is entitled to.

The Republicans have jumped on this to make a political issue. Shame on both the Church and the Republicans.

I hope the Obama administration holds firm on this one. Apparently 98% of Catholics agree that the Church position on contraception doesn’t work for them. The old men who run the Catholic Church have failed their members – on issues of sexual abuse of children as well as contraception . They should not be catered to on this issue.

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Having said that, Secretary Sebelius blundered again.

CORRECTION:  my previous criticism of Secretary Sebelius was inaccurate. President Obama made the decision himself after rather extended deliberation, including a meeting with New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan.

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2 Responses to “* The flap about contraceptives for women who work in Catholic non-religious institutions (ie, hospitals and universities) is not a case of government overreach by the Obama administration. It is very clearly a case of overreach by the Catholic Church, who want to deny their non-Catholic (and non-observant Catholic) female employees a benefit every other woman in America is entitled to.”

  1. Chris said

    Does the government require all health care plans to cover contraceptives for women?

    • Lew Weinstein said

      I believe it does … as part of Obamacare. And … I believe it should require all plans to provide that coverage, which of course does not require any woman to use them. That is her choice. Her choice … not the choice of the Catholic Church!

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