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Friday, February 10, 2012

The compromise

I see there's a compromise on the contraception mandate. Here are bits from a few articles I saw in the news today that represent how I feel about this ....

* My Take: Why I’m a Catholic for contraception - CNN

[...] My religion has played a large part of my life, laying the groundwork for my personal relationship with God. It has taught me how to respect others, be a human with integrity and help those in need. Catholicism is a beautiful religion that supports family values, tolerance of others, and leads us to serve others, a teaching I’ve adapted into my everyday living. The Catholic Church does an exceptional job standing up for those who live in poverty and suffer injustices.

But on contraception, the Catholic Bishops have taken a stance that violate the basic rights that affect millions of Catholics across the country and shows a lack of concern for women's health. It is disheartening that the Catholic Bishops were so opposed to the Obama Administration's decision to require religious institutions like hospitals and college to provide its faculty, staff, and students with access to reproductive health care, which includes birth control, emergency contraceptives, and condoms. Even after the White House announced a revised policy Friday that exempts religious institutions from having to pay for the contraception coverage, at least one bishop voiced disgust. The U.S. bishops said in a statement Friday that it's "too soon to tell whether and how much improvement [there's been] on core concerns." ....

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

[...] 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.” ....

* Contraception and women's rights -- it's still a man's world - Los Angeles Times

[...] When it comes to contraception, it's still a man's world.

President Obama offered a compromise Friday on health insurance coverage for contraceptives. (For a thoughtful take on how that's likely to work, read my colleague Jon Healey's post, "The White House wishes away the cost of contraception coverage.") Really, though, this issue isn't about health insurance, or healthcare costs, or even religious freedom and the 1st Amendment. This is about power. It's about men telling women what they can and can't do with their bodies ....


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