Madison Catholic Diocese Buys Cheaper Insurance But Will Fire Employees Who Use It for Birth Control

The Madison Catholic Diocese and St. Mary’s Hospital in the area have issued this (slightly paraphrased) statement to all of its employees:

Our new insurance plan covers prescription contraceptives like birth-control.

But if you ever take those pills, we’re so going to fire you.

They have this insurance plan because Wisconsin law has mandated that “all commercial insurance policies with a drug benefit [have] to cover prescription contraceptives.” And that was the cheaper option, so the Diocese went with it.

Still, the hospital is working to get “a religious exemption inserted into the law.” I don’t know why that matters. If people actually follow the (misguided) tenets of the Catholic faith, they wouldn’t be using the birth control, anyway. There’s no need for a religious exemption. I guess the Diocese doesn’t have any confidence that their own church’s members will follow their silly rules.

There’s a voice of reason in the article, but it’s not like the Catholic leadership is going to pay any attention to that:

Chris Taylor, public policy director for Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin, said she is pleased with the turn of events but disappointed that institutions would spend energy trying to thwart the law.

“Birth control is basic health care that 95 percent of women use at some point,” she said. “I would hope that we don’t have entities — Catholic or otherwise — trying to erect obstacles to health care for their employees.”

If the Catholic Church excommunicated every woman who’s ever used birth control or had an abortion, I seriously wonder how many of them would be left on their membership list…

(Thanks to Robert for the link)

  • http://ottodestruct.com Otto

    Wait, how exactly would they find out about it? Employers don’t (or at least should not) have access to what benefits a person is receiving. Medical records are absolutely none of any employer’s business. There are laws to that effect, in fact.

    On a side note, this is absolutely typical of religious institutions not caring about even their own people’s well-being.

  • muggle

    The other 5% wind up like my mother: 8 kids in 10 years time or my grandmothers with 12 and 14 kids. Roman Catholic and Dutch Reform foolishly trusting it to gawd to determine the size of their families. Any wonder I’m left thinking you’ve got to be kidding me whenever anyone goes on about how it’s a wonder that sperm fertilizes egg despite the odds against it? You’ve got to be kidding me.

    I don’t imagine they’ll stand a chance in hell if they fire some woman for using the health insurance to buy contraceptives and she files a wrongful termination law suit. At least, I sincerely hope they wouldn’t.

    I don’t know about the church but Catholic Charities hires non-Catholics. My daughter works for them despite being up front in her job interview about being Atheist. Perhaps it’s also an attempt to force non-Catholic employees to cowtow to Catholic law.

  • maddogdelta

    If the Catholic Church excommunicated every woman who’s ever used birth control or had an abortion, I seriously wonder how many of them would be left on their membership list…

    I’m guessing that will only leave the lesbians… and we know how well that will fly with Pope Palpatine…

  • http://www.snowcoveredhills.com Megan

    This is ridiculous. They have no way to know which medications their employees are taking, and they certainly don’t know what they’re taking those medications for. Publicity stunt, anyone?

  • Anonymous Atheist

    Aside from all the other massive problems with the anti-contraceptives doctrine, here’s one point that can’t be argued: There are many women with medical problems (hormone problems, painful periods, endometriosis, etc) who need to use birth control pills just to have a normal-functioning life, even if abstinent; not for any intent of daring to limit their number of children to a responsible amount. ;)

    I actually worked for the Catholic church briefly years ago (in a position without insurance, but I saw the insurance paperwork and it was a Catholic-specific insurance that specifically omitted birth control), and had to pretend to still be Catholic to get hired. (I’m not an ‘out’ atheist, so it was nothing new. :( ) You have to have a priest as one of your application references to prove that you’re ‘a Catholic in good standing’.

    Catholic Charities apparently is much more lenient about who they’ll hire if they’d hire an admitted atheist (bravo), but I’d guess their insurance probably still doesn’t cover birth control.

  • Heidi

    Do they care that preventing pregnancy is not the only reason to take birth control hormones?

  • beckster

    They don’t legally have access to anyone’s private medical information and therefore could not know if someone was taking birth control. If they did find out and used this as a reason for termination, the employee would have an easy case with regards to medical privacy and wrongful termination. It’s just for attention to make it seem as though their “religious liberties” to discriminate against women are protected. Would they fire a man for getting a vasectomy?

  • Sam Barnett-Cormack

    Well, Catholic preaching hasn’t been very successful at persuading people, including Catholics, not to use birth control… I guess they see it as another way to do it…

    In all seriousness, I imagine that their reasoning is actually that they would then be paying for the birth control, through the employer’s contributions. They consider this a breach of their (corporate) freedom of conscience.

    I consider them asses who think their freedom of conscience trumps other peoples freedom of… well, anything.

  • Anonymous Atheist

    I found an article clarifying the ‘how would they know’ question:
    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/new-law-requires-catholic-diocese-to-cover-contraception-under-employee-insurance/

    All Diocese of Madison employees are required to sign a document upon being hired to follow the laws of both Wisconsin and the Church. King said that employees would be given “strong pastoral recommendations against” using birth control coverage, but that the diocese will not monitor employees.

    Due to medical privacy laws, the diocese would only know if an employee was using the contraception coverage if he or she made it apparent “in an overt and publicly defiant way.”

  • Richard P.

    My inquiring mind was inquiring…

    It says “prescription contraceptives”, As near as I know there is no male contraceptive. I would deduce this plan would not cover condemns. So this would mean that it is the females responsibility to control birth control. Is this not very sexist? I mean is there any debate about this situation?

  • Sam Barnett-Cormack

    It says “prescription contraceptives”, As near as I know there is no male contraceptive. I would deduce this plan would not cover condemns. So this would mean that it is the females responsibility to control birth control. Is this not very sexist? I mean is there any debate about this situation?

    Well, the Catholic church would say that it’s both parties’ responsibility to ensure there is no birth control.

  • False Prophet

    @Anonymous Atheist,

    I figured they were just blowing smoke. The RC Church is not going to go out of its way to find out, and most Catholics are not going out of their way to advertise. And that’s why North Americans haven’t left the Church in droves: it’s part of their cultural identity that really doesn’t require any sacrifice or effort on their part.

  • http://republic-of-gilead.blogspot.com/ Ahab

    Perhaps the intent was to intimidate or guilt-trip employees? I can’t imagine that firing an employee for using contraception would be legal.

  • Al

    Don’t even get me started on the Madison Catholic Diocese. This article is a good start on what’s wrong with it.

  • Emily

    If the Catholic Church excommunicated every woman who’s ever used birth control or had an abortion, I seriously wonder how many of them would be left on their membership list…

    Silly Hemant. This is the RCC! The wimminz don’t matter!

    Seriously though, other than the “Help! Help! We’re being repressed!” bit, I think the main idea here is to scare the women who work for the church into not using birth control. They don’t have to be able to actually follow through on the threat, they just have to make the women think that they can follow through.

  • Dan W

    Yet another reason why women should leave the Catholic Church.

  • blueridgelady

    why any self-respecting woman would still be in that specific religion is beyond me. Yes, most religions are somewhat or very misogynistic, but Catholicism takes the cake with their complete and utter obsession with what happens inside other peoples’ bodies. They should work on their world-wide ring of child rapists if they want to protect babies. Isn’t that plank-in-your-brother’s-eye verse in Mark or something?

  • muggle

    Catholic Charities apparently is much more lenient about who they’ll hire if they’d hire an admitted atheist (bravo), but I’d guess their insurance probably still doesn’t cover birth control.

    She’s very part-time so doesn’t qualify for health insurance either and I couldn’t say if it does or not. She’s working her way through college.

    Also, we’re in New York. It could very well just be the local Catholic Charities that’s that liberal. I couldn’t say if it’s the same in a more conservative state or not. I have no way of knowing. She felt it best to be upfront about it and the local director didn’t care.

  • mike

    The problem with all of these arguments is that many of them cannot empathize at all with what the birth control position of the catholic church is trying to defend. Preventing the existence of even one of my precious children, losing out on all the things these kids have taught me, and giving another human being a chance to be happy are all examples of the sincerely wonderful things children and parents bring to this world with each child. These are real and tangible things humans experience with each child. What the catholic church is trying to defend is the existence of the child (already conceived by God before intercourse…a humbling notion for women and men), the virtue of the parents, and most of all the joyful experiences, brought forth and stimulated by God, that both parent, child, and God experience in the daily life of the family. It is impossible to fully understand the catholic church law without “doing the deed”…just as many of the athiest friends say that I will not be able to fully understand their freedom without giving up these sanctimonious laws. We are at an impasse and there is no mind changing. One or the other just has to make a change in the interest of whatever each side believes in which will lead to nothing but mockery or genuine criticism from two sides of an abyss. Oh well…


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