Birth Control and the Catholic Church; This is About Your Religious Freedom, Not Theirs

The current flap over insurance coverage of birth control by insurers — specifically those who work as employees of the Catholic Church — has absolutely nothing to do with the religious freedom of Catholics. In fact, if anything, it is the Catholic Church that is attempting to violate the separation of church and state mandated by the First Amendment, not the government. They are attempting to carve out an exception for themselves in YOUR private insurance policy,  and nothing more.

To explain what I mean, you have to understand the purpose of health insurance.

When you pay a health insurance premium, you’re not actually paying for your own health care. This is a concept that causes many right wingers’ heads to explode, but it is reality. Given the fact that many people pay insurance premiums for many years, and only use it to take the kids to the doctor for occasional check ups, many tend to view it as something of a savings account, to pay for what might happen in the future. Unfortunately, insurance companies tend not to view it that way. 

In actuality, you pay your premiums, and those premiums go into a large pool, from which the insurance company pays the medical bills of others who need the money to pay for health care. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, better known as “Obamacare,” medical decisions are now left between you and your doctors. Hospitals and doctors issue an invoice for services rendered, and the insurance company writes a check, pulling money from the pool that includes your insurance premium.

Keep something in mind, though; YOU are paying your premium, not your employer – it’s part of your compensation package. He's no more paying for your insurance than he's paying your taxes. YOU are responsible for both. You and your family are the “insured” listed on the policy, and you and your doctor make the medical decisions that you deem best for your personal health.

The Catholic Church in the United States is asking for an exemption to the mandate that all private insurance companies cover birth control and contraception. In other words, they want to be given the power to mandate to their employees what decisions they and their doctors can and cannot make, based on the employer’s religious beliefs.

That is the issue, folks. Let’s deal with that.

Again, this is YOUR insurance policy. Your employer isn’t paying for it, YOU ARE. The only reason employers offer it as a benefit is because that is the tradition that’s grown over the years. In the end, it is YOUR compensation that pays for the insurance. The insurance exchange, when it comes online, will eliminate the need for employers to even negotiate on their employees’ behalf, so the Catholic Church’s objection will be solved at that point, anyway. 

Since it’s YOUR insurance policy, and YOUR money is going into a pool that pays for other people’s health care needs, when it comes time for your health care to be paid for, wouldn’t it be nice to know that pretty much any legitimate medical decision you and your doctor make will be fully covered by your insurance, without regard to anyone else’s religious dictates?

If the Catholic Church, in its role as employer, were to succeed in claiming its “right” to not allow YOUR money to be used for contraception or other drugs that they object to, they would essentially be limiting the choices of their employees, even those who may not be Catholic, or who may not subscribe to that particular area of Roman Catholic doctrine. Ironically, the money Catholic Church employees paid in premiums could and would be used for such drugs and procedures FOR OTHER PEOPLE, just not their own. I would love for someone in the Roman Catholic hierarchy to explain how that comports with their religious doctrine. 

And how far do we take this purported “religious freedom”? Should an employer who's a Jehovah’s Witness be allowed to refuse coverage of anything to do with blood transfusions to his or her employees? Should an employer who belongs to the Church of Scientology be able to deny coverage for psychiatry, or psychiatric drugs, because they don’t believe they work? If someone claims a religion that only believes in treating cancer with roots and berries be able to refuse coverage of other known cancer treatments to his or her employees?

I would also point out that the Catholic Church has employees all over the world, including a large number of countries with universal health care systems that cover birth control routinely, and they pay taxes or health insurance premiums to support them. Yet, it’s only a problem in the United States because we happen to have the First Amendment? Please.

It’s YOUR insurance policy, and YOU are paying for it, not your employer. What the Catholic Church is asking for, as an employer, is the power to deny you coverage it doesn’t approve of, based on its religious beliefs. If the government allows that to happen, that action will actually violate your right to religious freedom, because it will essentially result in the federal government allowing an employer’s religion to dictate to you what YOUR health insurance will cover. In what way is that not a violation of the First Amendment?

There’s a reason we separate church and state in this country, folks, and this is it.   


  1. If the Catholic church is successful, every employer in the country will have an incentive to deny birth control coverage for “religious reasons.” And you know that RW pressure groups will give them further incentive.

  2. You realize Obama secretly wrote the script to “The Phantom Menace,” right.
    Because everything you just said is as nonsensical. Not to mention irrelevant to my points.

  3. 1. Birth control moved into the mainstream years ago. Even most “pro=life” folks don’t want to ban contraception; only the extremists.
    2. Again, 98% of Catholic women use birth control, meaning Bishops don’t have any authority in their own church. They have even less authority in the political arena, where most GOP think they’re a cult.
    3. The issue is whether it’s covered by health insurance. Don’t look now, but don’t you now have Republicans now arguing the fine points of Obamacare?
    Oops. Obama played them like a fiddle.
    Do you ever tire of showing your ignorance?

  4. Oh, and BTW — you know that stuff about the discourse moving rightward no matter what?
    Whether or not the Bishops accept this accommodation, I do think this has put birth control permanently on the sex police menu and it’s not going to go away. From this point on, contraception will be “controversial” in health care politics. How can it not? It’s “evil.” So, in that sense they win regardless. It’s moved the ball a little bit, drawn attention to the issue and reinforced the Bishops’ authority. And that’s why they did it.
    Oh yeah, Obama played them like a fiddle.

  5. Obama orchestrated this whole “controversy” and proceeded to make the GOP look anti-women. Again. If you don’t think this was the Obama Admin’s baby from the beginning, and that he played politics like a cheap fiddle, well, there’s this bridge in Brooklyn I’ll sell to you for a song…
    Oh my god — you mean the public will finally stop voting for Republicans because Obama in his devious Zen Mind Control brilliance has finally revealed them as zealots?
    Why didn’t I think of that?

  6. You really cannot see beyond your own nose. You keep trying to make the same point over and over, even though it’s ridiculous. It doesn’t matter what the Bishops want; birth control is a non-issue, except for a small group of zealots. Hell; even 98% of CATHOLIC women use birth control.
    Obama orchestrated this whole “controversy” and proceeded to make the GOP look anti-women. Again. If you don’t think this was the Obama Admin’s baby from the beginning, and that he played politics like a cheap fiddle, well, there’s this bridge in Brooklyn I’ll sell to you for a song…

  7. They let it go for one day, then magically come up with a “solution” that only the Catholics can argue with
    Genius, I tell you. Genius!
    Seriously, Milt — was there anybody not counting his toes on the Left side of the political spectrum who didn’t know that the next step after making abortion de facto illegal was for these bastards to come after contraception?
    And who seriously thinks this is over?
    Oh, and as for this? The Catholics have to give women access to an insurance plan covering contraception.
    No, they don’t. And won’t. This is their line in the sand, and it’s because, as Pierce pointed out, they’ve been simmering for the last decade over getting called out on their massive cover-up of pedophilia by the priests. The fact that women will have their rights curtailed as a result is merely icing on the cake for these bastards and their enablers in the media and the Republican Party.
    A week, Milt.

  8. They didn’t get blindsided, Steve. That you think so demonstrates your lack of knowledge of the process. They issued this on Wednesday, after Catholic Santorum won the primaries. They KNEW the Catholic Church would cry about this; they always do. They also knew the right wing would engage in misogynistic bullshit, in order to play to their “base.” They let it go for one day, then magically come up with a “solution” that only the Catholics can argue with, while once again demonstrating why certain aspects of his health care plan that weren’t passed are necessary, especially the public option. If people had a public option to choose for health insurance, this wouldn’t have happened, right?
    You really don’t understand politics at all. You see everything in black/white terms, and you’re incapable of dealing with the greyscale that is the real world.
    The “compromise” is already out there. The Catholics have to give women access to an insurance plan covering contraception. They are just not forced to choose it themselves. 28 states already have like provisions, and it’s been upheld in court. It’s modeled after Hawaii’s plan. Obama’s from Hawaii. Do the math. He had this “accommodation” ready before he issued the HHS rules. Get a clue.

  9. Obama won this round, which was his plan all along.
    Are you out of your gourd? They got totally blind-sided on this. There was no Plan B for pushback, and there still isn’t.
    As for the Bishops — I know, I know. How many battalions do they have? On the other hand, they could lose their tax exemptions, which is long overdue. And to quote Pierce again — “The other would have been to toss a whole lot of bishops in jail for conspiracy to obstruct justice, enough of them so their power to influence the secular law was destroyed forever.” Nothing unconstitutional about holding them accountable for their crimes.
    A week tops before Obama caves on this, Milt. As sure as the Flying Spaghetti Monster made little green apples.

  10. It doesn’t matter what the Bishops accept. Courts have already upheld this concept in other cases, and they stand no chance in court, even the current SCOTUS, because of the slippery slope it would create. The “accommodation” is perfection, politically speaking. Obama won this round, which was his plan all along.
    And as usual, you have no basic point, Steve. We were never going to get a single-payer health plan, and it’s not the president’s job to “break” the Council of Bishops. In fact, he’d be violating the Constitution to even try to do so.

  11. And I’m not surprised, of course, but you seem to have missed my basic point. Which is that this is simply another example of the opportunities Obama pissed away coming in. By which I mean look at the stuff I boldfaced.

  12. You think that ends this?
    The Bishops won’t accept even that.
    I repeat, the braniacs in the administration will have sold us out before next week is finished.

  13. You would lose, so be glad you’re too poor to bet on it. They’re announcing their “accommodation” today, and it’s not even a compromise. Basically, he gives the “choice” to the people who are actually paying for the insurance, the employees. Where it belongs. But the mandate stays. It’ll be out in about an hour; read it and weep.

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