Here I am reporting to you from what I guess must be the Fifteenth Century, where apparently a mysoginistic cabal of old white men in the Vatican can tell American women that they must allow every sperm a chance to conceive in their womb. Obama caved and whatev–he let the baby have its bottle, I guess. My concern is not with a politician trying to tamp down controversy in an election year. It’s with you-know-who.
A few things:
1) Don’t kid yourselves, Nearly every Catholic woman has used birth control. 98% of Catholic women use some form of birth control banned by the Church in their lifetimes, according to the Center for Disease Control. The only reason I’m not a father right now is because the Catholic girls I’ve encountered are strong believers in contraception.
2) That rule did not force birth control on anyone who didn’t want it. It only meant that the institutions had to offer insurance plans that included it. The Obama administration did not do anything new by mandating that Catholic-affiliated institutions like hospitals and universities provide access to free contraception. 28 states already have such laws on the books, including California and New York with their huge Catholic populations. Only eight of those states exempt hospitals and universities and some use weird workaround rules like Hawaii. The rule has not put any Catholic hospital out of business yet, despite hysterical remarks every time the issue arises.
3) Major Catholic universities like DePaul right here in Chicago offer free birth control and as far as anyone can tell, the sky remains intact.
4) Health plans that refuse preventive services to women are considered discriminatory. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission said so in 2000, and in 2009, it found that there should be no religious exemption for the Catholic college Belmont Abbey to discriminate against women by not offering birth control. In other words, this is not an Obama administration war against religious freedom but what has been the consensus (if an unenforced one) for a while.
5) Timothy Dolan, the head of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops said Obama’s compromise was a “first step in the right direction” in revising “how individuals obtain services that are morally objectionable.” You know what I find morally objectionable? The Catholic Church. As the classic Onion headline reads: Starving Third-World Masses Warned Against Evils of Contraception.
Contraception should not just be allowed, it should be a human right. Contraception, especially in poor countries, empowers women. It allows them lives outside of pumping out babies every time their husband rolls on top of them. Women, empowered and educated, raise standards of living. They combat terrorism, warlordism and corruption.
Right here in America, lack of access to birth control is the reason poor women are three times more likely to have an unplanned pregnancy than middle class women. Every dollar states spend on birth control reduces Medicaid expenditures by $3.74. Health insurance plans that don’t include contraceptive coverage cost an average of 15% more. If the Catholic Church cared whatsoever about the plight of this world’s most unfortunate, it would be screaming its endorsement of contraception from the rafters.
6) If you actually want to reduce the number of women having abortions, you should be a big proponent of contraception. If you want to live in a fantasy world where someday the United States will be a theocratic police state that will not only ban abortion and contraception but can also somehow stop people from having sex outside of wedlock, then by all means support the Santorum-GOP position that religious institutions that operate in the public sphere should be allowed to discriminate against women. And when this inadvertently results in more unplanned pregnancies and more abortions, explain it to Jesus without stammering.
7) I’ve read some pretty appalling and idiotic commentary from people like these two dipshits at the Daily Beast, and I’ll quote one of them, Kristin Powers, who wrote, “The administration took religious liberty, a principle on which our country was founded, weighed it against access to contraception, and somehow in its bizarro math, religious freedom lost.”
This is the point where people fundamentally misunderstand the word “freedom.” In this case, the Catholic Church wants to exercise its ability to discriminate against women by denying them a common, universally-regarded preventive medical option. Catholics and Christians, ask yourselves this: What if an Islamic-affiliated hospital wanted to enforce some Sharia code that did not allow women to be treated by a male doctor? Or the hospital wouldn’t treat men who didn’t have beards? Or it wouldn’t allow organ transplants for unmarried non-virgin women? Or due to some obscure, nonsensical piece of doctrine it didn’t believe in using blood thinners?
You’d say, “That’s f***ing ridiculous!” because it f***ing is! This is not about religious “freedom”: it’s about the leaders of a prejudicial, backwards corporation (and don’t kid yourself, that’s all the Church is) trying to force their absurd value judgments on a diverse society that doesn’t share that particular value whatsoever.
8 ) Catholics, it’s time to enter the 21st Century. Don’t do it for secular humanists like me. Not at all. You already lost us back at the part where you actually think that wine transubtantiates into blood and crackers into flesh (P.S. That is actually what Catholics are still supposed to believe, according to the same Bishops, Cardinals and Pope that say women can’t have contraceptives. It’s like if a schizophrenic, who believes space aliens put a chip in his brain, told you not to watch television because the flying saucers will know where to land).
No, Catholic Church, do it for yourselves. Do it for your followers. Do it so you don’t fade into total obsolescence. Sure, you can hang onto your homophobic, chauvinistic, downright Medieval views on marriage equality, women’s roles in society, and contraception, but as you cling to all these preposterous prejudices, you are only ensuring your own irrelevance.