When I was growing up, we had an infinite supply of Catholic babysitters, who all came from families of 7 or 9 or 12. If Margaret stopped babysitting, Mary stepped right in. Once Mary got too old, there was Anne. That was no longer true for my baby sister, born 14 years after me. By the 1970s, those Catholic families had mysteriously stopped adding a new child every year.
Now we all know what happened to those families: After 1968, en masse, they rejected the Catholic Church's ban on contraception. In her column today, Gail Collins explains that, now, the Catholic hierarchy is furiously trying to get the U.S. government to come in and enforce its beliefs. Is it really the role of a secular government to take sides in internal theological debates between a church and its members?
No one in the administration is making it mandatory for Catholics (or non-Catholic employees at Catholic institutions) to take the Pill, whether for contraception or for the myriad reasons that women try to regulate their menses: to reduce the crippling pain of endometriosis, to save an ovary, to prevent migraines.
Gail Collins nails the issue with the Catholic hierarchy's war on the U.S. government. Don't miss her piece today, which includes a story that leads to the quote in the subhead, as well as this:
Catholic dogma holds that artificial contraception is against the law of God. 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. Take out ads. Pass out leaflets. Put up billboards in the front yard.
The problem here is that they’re 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....
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?
I am quite baffled about why so many liberal male Catholic pundits want to back the bishops' expansionist beliefs about U.S. government power on this one. Don't they care about women's lives?