It is about religious freedom

Obama announces “an accommodation” on the birth control issue:

The “accommodation” is reasonable, and The Catholic Health Association (which was considered subversive by some Bishops during the 2009 health care debate) is “very pleased with the White House announcement”.

The original issue is complete bullshit—yet another unholy liaison between religious extremists and right wing political opportunists. As MoJo’s Nick Baumann points out, much of the policy dates back to an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission ruling back in December, 2000, that went entirely unchallenged by the Bush administration:

“It was, we thought at the time, a fairly straightforward application of Title VII principles,” a top former EEOC official who was involved in the decision told Mother Jones. “All of these plans covered Viagra immediately, without thinking, and they were still declining to cover prescription contraceptives. It’s a little bit jaw-dropping to see what is going on now…There was some press at the time but we issued guidances that were far, far more controversial.”

After the EEOC opinion was approved in 2000, reproductive rights groups and employees who wanted birth control access sued employers that refused to comply. The next year, in Erickson v. Bartell Drug Co., a federal court agreed with the EEOC’s reasoning.

So what changed? Almost nothing:

“We have used [the EEOC ruling] many times in negotiating with various employers,” says Judy Waxman, the vice president for health and reproductive rights at the National Women’s Law Center. “It has been in active use all this time. [President Obama’s] policy is only new in the sense that it covers employers with less than 15 employees and with no copay for the individual. The basic rule has been in place since 2000.”

The real issue at stake IS about religious freedom. It’s about whether an employer can impose its religious views on employees—and their bodies. It is whether individuals who work for religious-affiliated employers are required to accept their employer’s extremist views.

And, no mistake about it, a prohibition on contraception in America, in 2012, is an extremist view.

No. Individual rights to private matters of conscience—and matters of personal health—trump those of religious institutions.

The government is right to protect individuals from that institutional violence.


  1. 1

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    The Catholic Church is so out of touch with reality that’s it’s comical. Maybe back in the Twelth Century, when infant mortality was 50%, church rules against contraception made sense, but, hey, there are now 7 billion people on the planet. There’s not much worry about us going extinct any time soon. Least of all the Catholics and Mormons!

    The Catholic Church needs to wake up and smell the coffee: contraception makes sense if Catholics are to have any real quality of life. What did the Catholic Church’s rules against contraception do to the Irish except keep them in poverty and indirectly support the oppression by the British for the past 800 years.

    Here’s what you Catholics need to demand of your church: open support for contraception and abortion, women priests and married priests, regardless of gender. You church is stuck in the Twelth Century and not doing anything to join us all in the modern world. In short, if your church continues as it is now, it will become an interesting anachronism and will eventually die-out. The pope and all the other Cathoic churchmen are no more in touch with the Supreme Being than anybody else in the universe. You don’t need them to follow your beliefs.

  2. 2

    Dot spews:

    If you believe the Catholic Church is out of touch on this issue, as I do, simply don’t work for them. Issue solved.

  3. 3



    “simply don’t work for them. Issue solved.”

    No…not unless the Catholic Church gets out of the health care business, the education business, the social services business, the landlord business, etc.

    The law exempts houses of worship. But it becomes an issue when a religious institution employs people in non-religious service outside of a house of worship.

  4. 4

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 That’s an oversimplification that assumes all workers are able to negotiate the terms and conditions of employment. The reality is different. In the absence of collective bargaining and/or government regulation, workers are at employers’ mercy. This is simply a case where government is acting to protect workers from arbitrary employer behavior.

  5. 6

    ArtFart spews:

    @3 “No…not unless the Catholic Church gets out of the health care business, the education business, the social services business, the landlord business, etc.”

    Which we should hope it doesn’t do, because it actually does a lot of those things quite well.

    Which, of course, begs the question: How in blue blazes can the church put forth and act upon Catholic Social Teaching and yet give tacit endorsement (albeit with a wink and a nod) to the likes of Santorum and Gingrich simply because they advocate the overturn of Roe v Wade?

  6. 7

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    Actually, I don’t care whether the Catholic Church provides contraceptive healthcare or not. I’d just like it if they got out of the Twelth Century and tried to at least make it to the 19th Century. I think at least the Protestant Christians (mostly) are at that level. Why do the Catholic have to live so far in the past?

  7. 8

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    I heard a story that the Westboro Baptist Church morons might be showing up at the big rememberance service for the Powelll boys at a big Christian church here in Pierce County tomorrow. You remember those yahoos – they show up at soldiers’ funerals to protest gay rights. They are truly ate-up with Christian hatred/zealotry. They blame all of the world’s woes on tolerance for gays and lesbians. What a bunch of nut-cases! There’s not much difference between them and Catholics and Protestants of Ireland.

  8. 9

    Zotz sez: They have no shame and cannot be embarassed. spews:

    This is simply a case where government is acting to protect workers from arbitrary employer behavior.

    Speaking of protection from behavior by authority figures: how long do you think contraceptives would be an issue to the priests if little boys could get pregnant?

  9. 10

    Michael spews:

    There’s an exemption for anyone who works directly with church theology. That was always in there and should be in there.

    Church based groups routinely get paid by various governments for things like social services and medical care. The question is, should a secular state have two sets of rules when awarding payments and contracts? It would seem to me that the state should be treating everyone competing for government payments and contracts the same.

  10. 11

    Michael spews:

    There was a poll out a just a couple days ago showing that most catholic women use birth control and supported the church having to provide coverage for birth control to non-theological employees.

    The group least likely to support churches having to provide coverage for birth control was evangelical christians.

    The American catholic church went though a big too-do back in the 80’s and quite a few of its more left leaning folks were purged from the ranks, which sucks but at least they go better treatment than their left leaning compatriots in Latin America.

  11. 12

    Michael spews:

    If I was a woman and I saw Rick Santorum, I’d be all “get out of my cervix, bitch.”

  12. 13


    So if I had a church that was running a hospital, and as a condition of getting health care, all the women had to wear full body burqas you conservatives would be fine with that, cause that’s religious freedom?

    I guess in a conservative’s mind, anything is allowed if you wrap it in “religious freedom”?

  13. 14

    Steve spews:

    @13 When wingnuts talk about being denied their religious freedom, they’re usually talking about being denied the freedom to impose their religious beliefs on you.