Bishops vs. health care for women (cont’d.)

Lots being written and reported on this manufactured ballyhoo. Here’s some of it.

Kay at Balloon Juice cuts through the fog to explain just what would be covered by the guidelines the bishops are condemning:

Here’s the services that have to be covered with no out-of-pocket cost to the employee:

Well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, HPV testing, STD counseling, HIV testing and counseling, breastfeeding support and supplies, contraception, and screening and counseling for domestic violence.

Most Americans think that’s a Good Thing. And an even larger percentage of American Catholics think that’s a good thing. As Lauren Fox reports for US News,Majority of Catholics Believe Employers Should Cover Birth Control“:

Six out of ten Catholics believe employers should be required to provide their employees with healthcare plans that cover contraception, while 55 percent of Americans at large supported the new requirement.

So what about the religious liberty of the majority of American Catholics who like the idea of preventive health care for women?

From Steven Benen, The Maddow Blog.

Steve Benen notes that there is “Broad support for contraception coverage,” and he even supplies a nice chart.

With such broad support across the board, he notes, “By the reasoning of the White House’s critics on this issue, people of faith are apparently hostile towards people of faith.”

If supporting the HHS guidelines ensuring preventive health care coverage for women makes you “anti-Catholic,” then most American Catholics are “anti-Catholic.” But then I suppose that if we accept the bishops’ attempt to redefine “Catholic” to mean, primarily, “opposed to preventive health care coverage for women,” then it’s probably true that most American Catholics are anti-Catholic. And good on them. If that’s all that remains of the once-proud word “Catholic,” then most American Catholics should be against it.

(That’s not just a snarky joke. The bishops are doing real and possibly lasting damage to their church and their faith, which also happens to be my faith. And when I tell people that I am a Christian, I’d like their first thought to be that this has something to do with Jesus and love, rather than having them say to me, “Oh, so that means you’re opposed to well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, HPV testing, STD counseling, HIV testing and counseling, breastfeeding support and supplies, contraception, and screening and counseling for domestic violence, right?” So it’d be nice to have the bishops not committing so much money and effort to this particular re-branding campaign.)

The bishops have also been doing their damnedest to pretend that this is about abortion, rather than about contraception. They keep referring to contraceptives as “abortion-inducing drugs.”

That’s not accurate. Those who say that are saying something that isn’t true. Those who say that are trying to convince others of something that isn’t true.

William D. Lindsey commends the Philadelphia Daily News for correcting the false claims made by Philadelphia’s archbishop. Lindsey quotes from the paper:

Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput is wrong when he claims that, under the new rule, Catholic-affiliated hospitals and colleges would have to provide health coverage for “abortion-inducing drugs.” The policy states plainly that the coverage is only for FDA-approved contraception. (The contention that birth-control pills act after conception is scientifically inaccurate: even the Catholic Health Association agrees. It headlined a 2010 article on Plan B emergency contraception, “Science shows it is not an abortifacient.”)

Yes, another archbishop who is either profoundly confused or else lying about what he calls “abortion-inducing drugs.”

I don’t think Chaput is confused.

A post at Ramonas Voices — “The Catholic Contraceptive Controversy: Where’s the Health Care Part?” — laments that this is being treated as another chapter in the abortion wars, when that’s not what it’s about:

This is not baby-killing, it’s responsibly managing an event as life-changing as it’s ever going to get. It’s the smart, sane way of controlling the use of our own bodies and, oh, by the way, preventing the birth of unwanted children.

We’re talking about birth control products already approved and already a part of most insurance policies. The only mandate is that insurance providers will now be required to provide those products without additional cost to all women who want to use them. The mandate isn’t for the use, it’s for the availability and the cost.

This is a manufactured Right wing controversy designed to kill yet another positive outcome of “Obamacare,” and the Catholic bishops are more than happy to become the spark that creates yet another phony firestorm.

This mandate already exists in 28 states, where Catholic institutions serving most of the country have been complying all along. That makes it very hard to believe the sudden expressions of shock and outrage over the idea of it being applied to the remaining 22 states.

That’s also why Mark Silk is wrong when he characterizes the HHS rules as nothing more than a political ploy the White House could use “to show how much they love the liberal base.”

Here again is that list of what this policy requires large employers to include in health insurance:

Well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, HPV testing, STD counseling, HIV testing and counseling, breastfeeding support and supplies, contraception, and screening and counseling for domestic violence.

That’s only a ploy to show love for the liberal base if by “liberal base” he means “all American women” and if by “love” he means “adequate preventive health care.”

Seriously, here’s that list again:

Well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, HPV testing, STD counseling, HIV testing and counseling, breastfeeding support and supplies, contraception, and screening and counseling for domestic violence.

People are angry about this? It offends their “conscience”? Nonsense. The word “conscience” does not refer to anything that might be offended by that.

Cheryl Contee isn’t buying this feigned outrage either. The end of her post — “The Absurdity of the Birth Control/Contraception Non-Controversy” — is particularly pointed:

If [Mitt] Romney wants to court a bunch of old men who certainly seem to expect their aging stiffies via Viagra and Cialis to be fully covered by health insurance but aren’t so sure about making sure that women are able to make decisions freely about if and when they make babies — then let him. This is a non-controversy that the media and some desperate reactionary Republican candidates who want to drag us back to the dark ages have stirred up. It’s time the [media] talked to some actual women — whose voices have mostly been lost in this discussion.

But Contee is restrained compared to Charlie Pierce, who looks back over the past decade and concludes that maybe the bishops and their defenders shouldn’t be complaining about being “beat up” over their opposition to this policy. “No, This Is Why We’ve Been Beating Up on the Church“:

George Weigel, alleged Catholic public intellectual and full-time fluffer of the Clan of The Red Beanie … said the following:

“This has struck a tribal nerve in Catholicism,” Catholic scholar George Weigel said to Chuck Todd on the Daily Rundown. “The Catholic Church has been beaten up over the last 10 or 11 years and I think Catholics are tired of the government and others beating up on the church.”

Holy mother of god, to coin a phrase.

Here is a pre-eminent Catholic “scholar” — Chris Matthews called him that last night while running the clip of Weigel’s stunningly ahistorical assertion — arguing that the Catholic laity is going to rise up and smite the president over birth control because they’re tired of the beating the institutional church has taken over the last decade.

And what are we talking about here?

The Church has been “beaten up” over the last 10 or 12 years because, at its highest possible echelons, it functioned as an international conspiracy to obstruct justice regarding the crime of sexual assault. … Most Catholics I know don’t believe the Church has taken a beating over the last decade; in fact, they believe a lot of ermined layabouts haven’t gotten half of what they deserve.

Lindsey makes the same point in a post on “‘Catholics’ in Anti-Contraceptive Crusader Mode“:

I’d like now to cite two points of evidence that should, I would argue, give pause to think for anyone inclined to give the bishops the benefit of the doubts as they beat their warm drums to place a Republican in the White House:

1. In the diocese of Kansas City-St. Joseph, a trial date has just been set for Bishop Robert Finn, who is under criminal indictment for failure to report suspected child abuse to criminal authorities in the case of Father Shawn Ratigan.

2. And in the archdiocese of Philadelphia, where the former secretary for clergy, Monsignor William J. Lynn, is also under criminal indictment on similar charges, and where the district attorney has just contended that the diocese kept a priest in ministry four decades after it knew of his sadomachostic activity with youngsters, the archdiocese has just been labeled an “unindicted co-conspirator” in Lynn’s trial.

As the bishops go on the political warpath right now, and as Catholics of the right and center line up behind them, it might be important to keep those two pieces of information in mind — if one really does care about the moral standing and moral credibility of Catholic teaching in the public square.

If Lindsey is right that the bishops are hoping this 22-state faux-kerfuffle will distract us from what he discusses there, then they can’t be pleased with Cardinal Egan for pushing it back into the news, as Andy Newman reports, “Cardinal Egan Criticized for Retracting Apology on Sexual Abuse Crisis“:

In a interview with Connecticut magazine published on the magazine’s Web site last week [“Cardinal Egan: Ten Years After,” by Tom Connor], a surprisingly frank Cardinal Egan said of the apology, “I never should have said that,” and added, “I don’t think we did anything wrong.”

He said many more things in the interview, some of them seemingly at odds with the facts. He repeatedly denied that any sex abuse had occurred on his watch in Bridgeport. He said that even now, the church in Connecticut had no obligation to report sexual abuse accusations to the authorities. (A law on the books since the 1970s says otherwise.) And he described the Bridgeport diocese’s handling of sex-abuse cases as “incredibly good.”

Michael Brendan Dougherty is not impressed with the cardinal:

In short: Egan coddled child-abusers, and persecuted decent priests during his ignominious reign as a Prince of the Church. His entire interview reeks of a narcissism and self-regard that is so palpable it makes your eyes water.

Bonus points to Dougherty by starting with a quote from St. John Chrysostom: “The road to hell is paved with the skulls of bishops.”

Melissa Rogers contemplates what the end-game of this political power-play by the bishops might be and if there might be “A win-win solution for HHS regulations.”

Rogers points to Hawaii — one of 28 states requiring contraceptive coverage already — as an example of how women who work for Catholic institutions might still receive coverage for the health care they need without violating the institutions’ religious beliefs forbidding such coverage:

In terms of its definition of a “religious employer,” the state of Hawaii’s contraceptive coverage law has some of the same defects as the interim federal rule. But it appears to have taken some noteworthy steps to ensure that employees of objecting religious organizations may readily gain access to affordable coverage of contraceptives. Under Hawaii law, religious employers that decline to cover contraceptives must provide written notification to enrollees disclosing that fact and describing alternate ways for enrollees to access coverage for contraceptive services. Hawaii law also requires health insurers to allow enrollees in a health plan of an objecting religious employer to purchase coverage of contraceptive services directly and to do so at a cost that does not exceed “the enrollee’s pro rata share of the price the group purchaser would have paid for such coverage had the group plan not invoked a religious exemption.” A New York law has similar provisions.

Again, these state laws are far from perfect. Further, we need more information about how they have worked in practice for all concerned.

John Aravosis is less optimistic than Rogers. Given that the religious right has been crying “religious liberty!1!” a lot lately, Aravosis is deadly serious when he asks this question: “Should Catholic hospitals be permitted to refuse to treat me because I’m gay?

That’s a loaded question. But just in recent months we’ve seen “religious liberty” and “conscience clause” invoked to defend the “religious liberty” of not signing legal marriage certificates for certain kinds of people, the “religious liberty” of not filling out prescriptions for certain kinds of people and especially the “religious liberty” to bully certain kinds of children with legal impunity.

So, yeah, Aravosis is asking a loaded question, but he didn’t load it.

(Rob Tsinai has a similarly cynical — and very, very funny — take on New Hampshire’s recent fight for the “religious liberty” of all businesses to refuse to serve GLBT people.)

OK, once more, with feeling:

  • Well-woman visits
  • screening for gestational diabetes
  • HPV testing
  • STD counseling
  • HIV testing and counseling
  • breastfeeding support and supplies
  • contraception
  • screening and counseling for domestic violence

People claim to be upset by this?

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  • Jay

    Following the logic of the Catholic Church here, Quakers should be exempt from paying taxes that support the military.  Which is actually a significant part of the tax burden, and not seventh on a list of trivial expenses.

  • Anonymous

    Following the logic of the Catholic Church here, Quakers should be exempt from paying taxes that support the military.  Which is actually a significant part of the tax burden, and not seventh on a list of trivial expenses.

    A part of me would love to see this brought up before the court system in order to trot out every single example of this. From Jehovah’s Witnesses forced to pay for blood transfusions to Quakers forced to pay for the military. But knowing the heavily, heavily Catholic Supreme Court it would end with a ludicrous decision.

  • http://www.oliviareviews.com/ PepperjackCandy

    And might be enough to get me off my duff and to the local Quaker meeting, which I’ve been wanting to check out forever.

  • Matri

    Well hey, if I thought it would trick the sucke-I mean voters, into voting for me, I’d claim they were upset by it too.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Dear Catholic Church,

    I use birth control on a daily basis.

    I am not having sex, whether open-to-pregnancy sex or otherwise. I am not inducing abortions – firstly because my birth control doesn’t actually do that, but also because I am not having sex. I’ll concede that birth-by-virgin is technically *possible*, but it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY.

    And yet I am using birth control.

    Am I doing anything wrong? And if not, what possible reason do you have to take away my birth control?

  • friendly reader

    I had a friend who was on birth control pills for a decade before she became sexually active thanks to irregular periods, but I *believe* that’s acceptable to Catholics.

    Also, am I the only person who suspects that the 1-2% of women polled who have never used birth control are mostly just women who haven’t had sex yet? With maybe a few lifelong quiverfulls and “traditional” Catholics thrown in?

  • http://reshapingreality.wordpress.com/ Aidan Bird

    I just had this conversation with one of my sisters. 

    She became very animated in explaining how the birth control pill is actually an abortificant (or however you spell this?).  She linked me to this: http://www.pfli.org/faq_oc.html

    In that link, the doctor (no idea who he is) claims that because birth control doesn’t prevent fertilization 100% of the time, there will be instances where a sperm will reach an egg and fertilize it.  He claims that this is the moment of conception, and this fertilized egg is then unable to implant because the birth control damages the uterus’s wall.  Since that egg is then expelled, it makes the birth control pill actually an abortificant.  My sister then made it clear that because of this, contraception is misleading and that scientists are trying to steer the conversation away from the truth. (Not sure how scientists suddenly became the bad guys here?)  She then used that link to claim that birth control is actually a form of chemically induced abortion, and thus it is morally wrong. 

    So that’s why she wants to take it away from you. 

    It was a very frustrating moment.  I argued back that because she may hold that view (I don’t agree with her view at all mind you) doesn’t give her the right to take it away from other people and deny them coverage because of it.  But you know, my argument failed to make any impression on her whatsoever. It was depressing. Highly depressing and ridiculously frustrating too.

    An aside unrelated to any of this:

    By the way, hi!  I’m still a bit new in the commenting on Fred’s blog – used to be a long term lurker. 

    And thanks for anyone who welcomed me on the other posts.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    She then used that link to claim that birth control is actually a form
    of chemically induced abortion, and thus it is morally wrong. 

    So that’s why she wants to take it away from you.

    Yeah, but…

    Even if she were correct about it being an abortifacient, I can’t be having chemically induced abortions if my uterus isn’t getting any sperm in the first place! I’m a virgin! How the hell is my birth control causing abortions in a way that my underwear isn’t?

  • http://reshapingreality.wordpress.com/ Aidan Bird

    That’s another inherent flaw in her argument. She made an assumption that everyone takes it to avoid pregnancy when they have sex.  Also, she assumes there is a potential for sex in the future for anyone taking birth control, so a future fertilized egg might die, and that would be bad as well.  She is a strong advocate of Natural Family Planning. 

    There’s a lot of misinformation in Catholic circles.  This is one of them.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Truefax: the only people I know who are on the pill for pregnancy-prevention reasons are married Christians. Everyone else is on it for unrelated health issues…

  • Anonymous

     Well, yeah.  If you’re not married, a condom is more sensible, as it also prevents STD transmission.

  • Anonymous

    I’m a virgin! How the hell is my birth control causing abortions in a way that my underwear isn’t?

    Maybe it’s a temptation thing?  You may be a virgin now, but once it sinks in that you can have Sex Without Consequences*, you will be compelled to join the First Church of Ashtaroth and bang a dozen long-haired cultist guys at once, regardless of your previous reasons for abstention.

    *except for all the consequences of sex which aren’t babies.  But those consequences don’t matter.

  • Lori

    I was on the pill for years and never got a long-haired cultist orgy. I obviously got ripped off. Who do I see about a refund?

  • Matri

    tentacles of the United Nations.

    I’m still trying to come to terms with the observation that we appear to be living in a hentai.

  • Anonymous
    tentacles of the United Nations.

    I’m still trying to come to terms with the observation that we appear to be living in a hentai.

    A crossover between Demon Beast Resurrection and Hetalia: Axis Powers, I presume?

  • Anonymous

    I’m still trying to come to terms with the observation that we appear to be living in a hentai.

    Or a Lovecraft story.

  • Tricksterson

    Or a Lovecraftian hentai :D

  • Rikalous

     

    Or a Lovecraft story.

    Don’t be ridiculous. If it were a Lovecraft story, there’d be a pervading fear of sex and foreigners…hey, wait a sec…

    Welp, ia ia, may you all be eaten first.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

     

    Don’t be ridiculous. If it were a Lovecraft story, there’d be a pervading fear of sex and foreigners…hey, wait a sec…

    And seafood. Don’t forget the fear of seafood.

  • Tricksterson

    If we’re taking the Cthulhu Mythos then we’re pretty much talking fear of everything.  Just occured to me that Adrian Monk would make a wonderful Call of Cthulhu RPG character.

  • Anonymous

     So I’m not the only one who got that sort of mental image?

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I’m still trying to come to terms with the observation that we appear to be living in a hentai

    I’ve been suspecting that ever since some preacher accused the Emperor of Japan of having sex with a demon.

    Governor Perry likes this guy.  

  • Tricksterson

    Every time I think humans can’t get any stupider they surpise me.

  • FangsFirst

     

    I was on the pill for years and never got a long-haired cultist orgy. I
    obviously got ripped off. Who do I see about a refund?

    You’ll have to speak to the short-haired cultists. Us longhairs go more for the “all risks taken” sort of morality-defying cultist orgies. At least, those of us who know the proper greeting hand signals.

    I can’t speak for the heretics.

  • Anonymous

    Lori,

    I was on the pill for years and never got a long-haired cultist orgy.

    Well, obviously you wouldn’t need one.  You’re already an atheist, it’s not like they could debauch you any further.  Deird, on the other hand, is a Christian woman with (IIRC) a steady boyfriend who’s saving herself for marriage.  That combo draws wild-eyed sex cultists, non-sparkly vampires and 70’s B-movie directors from four states away.

    Jeff,

    I checked my local Yellow Pages, and I can’t find any listings for the First Church of Ashtaroth in my area.

     

    Yeah, the Church doesn’t list itself in the print version; cuneiform looks like crap on that new-fangled paper stuff.  You want the clay edition, also known as the Ochre Tablets of Addressive Wisdom.  Be warned, the city won’t send it to you unless you pay shipping.  They say that’s because it’s about 3,000 pounds total, but we all know it’s part of the war on Mardukmas.*

    *Seriously!  Just try to put up a nice festively-decorated ziggurat outside the courthouse, invite all the passing kids to take turns shooting at the Tiamat-shaped water balloons, respectfully ask them if they’ve ever considered their own personal relationship with Marduk, and see how fast the ACLU turns up.  It’s disgusting.

  • friendly reader

    Speaking of going off on tangents about things that bug us in posts we don’t have a problem with, oh how I hate the phrase “saving herself/himself for marriage.” What can’t we just say “saving sex for marriage?” Or “waiting to have sex until marriage?” Otherwise you’re tying up a person’s selfhood in thons sex/no-sex status.

    And I know, that’s exactly how a lot of abstinence-only people view it, but from what I’ve read of Dierd’s posts that’s not how she sees it.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Word.

    Personally, I hate that kind of thing, because it implies that my life is on hold until I FINALLY get married and catch up to all the proper grown-ups. I’m a real person now, single and all.

  • Lori

    Well, obviously you wouldn’t need one.  You’re already an atheist, it’s not like they could debauch you any further.  Deird, on the other hand, is a Christian woman with (IIRC) a steady boyfriend who’s saving herself for marriage.  That combo draws wild-eyed sex cultists, non-sparkly vampires and 70’s B-movie directors from four states away. 

    If they could tell that I was an atheist the whole time then the least they could have done was tell me, because for most of my pill-taking time I didn’t know. 

  • Tricksterson

    I may have the wrong Lori here or even be thinking of someone who’s not a Lori at all but aren’t you a Catholic-turned-Episcopalian?  Apologuies if I have the wrong person.

  • Lori

    Nope, not me. I was raised fundamentalist Protestant and am now atheist. (Currently forced by circumstances to attend church services in order to keep peace in the family, but atheist nonetheless.) 

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Maybe it’s a temptation thing?  You may be a virgin now, but once
    it sinks in that you can have Sex Without Consequences*, you will be
    compelled to join the First Church of Ashtaroth and bang a dozen
    long-haired cultist guys at once, regardless of your previous reasons
    for abstention.

    Which is quite amusing, because if I was deciding whether to have sex or not based PURELY on it getting me pregnant and nothing else… yeah, I’d be having sex. Almost definitely.

  • Matri

    It really does say a lot about those dirty old men’s mindset, isn’t it?

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    Maybe it’s a temptation thing?  You may be a virgin now, but once
    it sinks in that you can have Sex Without Consequences*, you will be
    compelled to join the First Church of Ashtaroth and bang a dozen
    long-haired cultist guys at once, regardless of your previous reasons
    for abstention.

    *except for all the consequences of sex which aren’t babies.  But those consequences don’t matter.

    Which is the exact argument made seriously to prevent chidlren from receiving HPV vaccinations.

    When it comes to serious arguments being indistinguishable from satire, I am reminded of the following conversation which has occurred repeatedly on World of Warcraft chat channels:

    Player A: Making panda-people playable in WoW is ridiculous and kiddifies the game.
    Player B: I know, they’re probably going to make even sillier races like cow-people playable next.
    Player A: Um… the Tauren are cow-people who have been playable since the games’ launch seven years ago.
    Player B: /sigh. That was my point.

  • Tricksterson

    Ah but they’re not “Cow people” they’re minotaurs which is macho.  Myself i think the concept of panda peole is cool.  Are they purple?

  • Madhabmatics

    did someone mention serious arguments being indistinguishable from satire??

    http://literallyunbelievable.org/

  • Consumer Unit 5012

    I feel sorry for The Onion these days.  Trying to write stuff that’s TOO ridiculous to be true has never been harder.
     

  • Lunch Meat

    I like the poster who says “You can’t make this stuff up!” Apparently, you can.

  • Matri

    Am I a bastard for hoping that those people follow through on this, bombarding their representatives with their outrage, forcing said representative to “take action” and present themselves on the news and viciously attacking everyone else for “supporting infanticide” and whatnot. Before the announcement that it’s a satire.

    Am I bastard for thinking that? Because I’m totally hoping that happens.

  • P J Evans

     Her biology is suspect – since it takes hours to days for the sperm to even get to the eggs, and a large number of fertilized eggs never implant, or are expelled within the first month, before the woman even knows anything happened.
    Also, I believe that Aquinas (and possibly also Augustine) held that the soul isn’t  embodied and thus the fetus isn’t ‘human’ until quickening, which is, by coincidence, also the point at which modern doctors say it’s viable. Surely Doctors of the Church should be considered authoritative (for those who believe that there is such a thing).

  • Anonymous

     This is also my reasoning for supporting Planned Parenthood.  Just because 4% of the women who go to a PP clinic want an abortion, doesn’t mean I should take it out on the 96% of PP clients who don’t.

  • Dan Audy

    Dear Catholic Church,

    I use birth control on a daily basis.

    I
    am not having sex, whether open-to-pregnancy sex or otherwise. I am not
    inducing abortions – firstly because my birth control doesn’t actually
    do that, but also because I am not having sex. I’ll concede that
    birth-by-virgin is technically *possible*, but it is HIGHLY UNLIKELY.

    And yet I am using birth control.

    Am I doing anything wrong? And if not, what possible reason do you have to take away my birth control?

    I keep seeing this type of comment pop up in virtually every discussion on the Catholic Church trying to shirk their legal responsibilities and it really frustrates me*.  The frequency this defense pops up and the way it is worded seems imply that there actually is something wrong with those women who are taking BCP to avoid pregnancy rather than just for non-sexual health reasons.  I think it is great that women can take this medication to treat a wide variety of conditions (both my wife and one of my sisters did) but I also think it is great that women can have sex with minimal risk of disrupting their family/education/career/health/whateverelse.  I just wish there were a better way of pointing out the Bishops hypocrisy attempting to deny non-sexual healthcare in addition to the sexual healthcare without buying into their framing that there is something immoral or wrong about having sex because it feels great/helps us bond/we were bored.

    *Just using this as a jumping off point.  I don’t think your post was wrong or bad (and frankly you don’t have to justify yourself to me even if I did).

  • Tonio

     Excellent point. It’s the same issue with the abortion exceptions for rape and incest. I’ve heard it suggested that these are attempts by pro-lifers to assuage their consciences. It’s really about transferring the shame onto women who desired sex, where it’s OK to punish them by forcing women to carry pregnancies to term. In debates over both abortion and contraception, we must avoid any endorsement of the horrid good girl/bad girl dichotomy.

  • FangsFirst

     

    I think it is great that women can take this medication to treat a wide
    variety of conditions (both my wife and one of my sisters did) but I
    also think it is great that women can have sex with minimal risk of
    disrupting their family/education/career/health/bowlingleague.

    I was just saying, “Won’t someone think of the bowling leagues?!”
    I’m glad the issue has finally been addressed!

  • Christy

    I agree.  I was on the pill for four years because I was not married, having sex and did not want to get pregnant.  This is a perfectly legitimate reason to take birth control pills. I understand that the Catholic hierarchy does not approve, but I am not Catholic, so I don’t feel their approval of what I do or don’t do with my lady parts is required.  They are entitled to their opinion.  They are NOT entitled to try to force their employees – many of whom are not Catholic, and many of whom are but use contraception anyway – to abide by official Catholic doctrine.

    Birth control pills, while not the right choice for every woman, are a good thing. Contraception in general is a very good idea.  That’s why practically every woman in the world with access to it uses some form of contraception. Even if birth control pills were used strictly to prevent pregnancies, and nothing else, they would still be a good thing.  I think it’s important not to implicitly cede that point.  

  • Anonymous

    Heck, I’m asexual and I’m on birth control. 

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Matt-Herrera/100000106872183 Matt Herrera

    And my sister asks me why I haven’t been a practicing Catholic since Confirmation back in high school.

  • Anonymous

     If the scandals had started 5 years earlier, I wouldn’t have even been confirmed.

  • Quinnthebrain

    As a sufferer of PCOS (which, incidentally, is 4-5% of the female population), I took birth control pills as a way to, you know, keep my hair from falling out.  And I would echo Deird.  What possible reason do they have to tell me what to do with my health?

  • Matri

    Because he’s the bishop and he says so based on a book that doesn’t say so.

  • P J Evans

     Also, he’s the bishop and he’s never going to need them himself. Although I can’t say the same for any mistresses he might have.

    (A Catholic bishop in Southern California had to resign a few months ago. Seems he had a mistress and a couple of kids. He was paying child support – surprise! – but somehow had managed to keep it a secret for years.)

  • Matri

    He was paying child support – surprise! – but somehow had managed to keep it a secret for years.

    Inquiring minds wish to know: Was the child support coming out of his own pockets, or…?

  • P J Evans

    Late back with an answer, but I think so. Certainly the story I read implied it. It didn’t get nearly the notice you might expect, but then – Southern California. [shrug]

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Sam-Osborne/1115006842 Sam Osborne

    There appears to be a grievous matter of conscience being
    suffered by American-Catholic bishops that involves health-care insurance that
    covers contraception and reproductive health and freedom of choice of those
    that work in church affiliated institutions such as hospitals, schools, and
    universities..

     

    Though this concern appears to be generously extended to one
    person in the White House and members of the public in voting booths, perhaps
    the bishops might focus their shepherding duties more directly on the good
    repair and maintenance of the conscience of parishioners within their docent
    flocks.  With the pews at Sunday Mass no
    longer filled by families of full and half of a dozen children, maybe the
    teaching on birth control is not being very closely attended to at home. 

     

    If so, rather than announcing at Mass that there is an open
    letter to members of government in the vestibule which parishioners can sign in
    objection to the aforementioned matter of conscience, the attending faithful
    might be more directly told that there is a sign-up sheet on which the faithful
    should pledge faithful adherence to the Bishop’s teaching on this matter.  In fact the signup might be worked into the
    liturgy of the Mass as part of the collection or registered on lineup and
    signup on entry into the church.  This
    would cover the good conscience of all Catholics regardless of their occasion
    of sin being presented through coverage through their private employer, from out
    of pocket or as written off as business expense by Catholic employers. 

     

    As for any Bishops’ past neglect of this grievous matter of
    conscience, for those sufficiently concerned there is available confession of
    this any other matter that on second thought they believe that they may have overlooked.  As we have been taught, there are both sins
    of commission and omission.  

     

    This signup requirement might well be extended to other
    matters of concern of the Bishops: capital punishment, war, neglect of the
    poor, child abuse, and errant voting.  

     

    I for one will keep worshiping my God at Mass in the faith
    of my much valued heritage—mitigating discomfort from awareness of my own hypocrisy
    with a bit analgesic balm twisted from an old saw of Gaucho Marx: any
    organization that includes me has in willingly done so made its self less than
    perfect.  This along with a  “mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa“ that
    I still mutter in private Confiteor that the post-Vatican II Mass that I attend
    no longer issued as part of the worship service.

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    Again I ask, Sam: what precisely is wrong with my using birth control, given that I am not having sex?

  • Kiba

    What I want to know is why is it of any concern to anyone why any woman uses birth control? That’s between her and her medical professional. 

    It’s just another case of “my religion says X is wrong” while completely ignoring the fact that not all people believe that. It’s also a case of completely ignoring the fact that birth control is used for purposes other than just avoiding pregnancy.  

  • http://reshapingreality.wordpress.com/ Aidan Bird

    I completely agree! 

    It should be a private matter between her and the medical professional.

     It almost makes me wonder if these people have decided  that a women’s body is public property (or the property of a husband or church or whatever).  I wonder because these people act like it is. :/

  • Anonymous

    Wiccan here.  Unlike Christians, we have no moral stance on pre-marital sex whatsoever.  To a Wiccan, the only sexual sins (for lack of a better word) are:

    1. Rape or coercion, including statutory rape, because these forms of sex show a gross lack of respect for the other person.

    2. Oath-breaking.  If your wedding vows specifically included a vow of sexual fidelity*, then having sex with someone else is breaking this vow.  Oath-breaking is a severe form of wrongdoing in Wicca: if you swear to do something, and fail to follow through, then your word is meaningless, and Wicca (along with several other Pagan paths) places a high value on verbal commitments.

    3. Dishonesty or secrecy towards your significant other regarding outside sexual activity.  This is how most Wiccans, and nearly all polyamorous people, define “cheating.”  However, as with #2, this is considered far more of a breach of trust than it is a sexual offense, and breaches of trust are considered far more heinous.

    4. Failing to take responsibility for the physical results of sexual activity, either by neglecting to care for or financially support a child one has fathered, or by failing to protect oneself against STD transmission and/or unwanted pregnancy in cases of non-marital intercourse.

    To a Wiccan, it can actually be more wrong to not use birth control, depending on the situation.  The Catholic Church’s decision, therefore, is infringing upon my religious liberty and freedom of conscience.

    ————————————————
    * A lot of Pagans, especially the polyamorous, deliberately exclude sexual fidelity from their wedding/handfasting vows.

  • Matri

    “Ye be spinnin’ a fine yarn, laddie, sshyur as me tartan kilt be 100-thread.” -Me, just now.

    Fine and dandy and all in your post, but it seems to be quite myopic and selective. For example, on the subject of the “bishops’ past neglect of this grievous matter of conscience” you insist that there was a “confession”, as you so eloquently describe apologies.

    Here is the said “confession”:

    a surprisingly frank Cardinal Egan said of the apology, “I never should
    have said that,” and added, “I don’t think we did anything wrong.”

    As you can see, he should never have confessed because as a man of the cloth and an earthbound representative speaking on behalf of your god, him and his subordinates didn’t do anything wrong.

    I suggest you take your eloquent, loquacious derriere back to your den and peruse the leather-bound, gilded book you call a “Holy Bible” which, as I am fairly certain at this moment, has been unopened for several years.

  • Lori

     
    Here is a pre-eminent Catholic “scholar” — Chris Matthews called him that last night while running the clip of Weigel’s stunningly ahistorical assertion — arguing that the Catholic laity is going to rise up and smite the president over birth control because they’re tired of the beating the institutional church has taken over the last decade.  

    Is Chris Matthews ever not a disgrace? 

    I am so sick of the media letting the bishops and people like George Weigal and Bill Donahue get away with this crap. None of them should be able to finish a sentence making claims about the Church’s delicate conscience without being asked why birth control is more offensive to conscience than child rape. Listening to people who facilitated child rape or are apologists for those who facilitated child rape talk about conscience makes me sick. 

  • rm

    I could be wrong, folks, but I’m pretty sure Sam Osborne’s comment was tongue-in-cheek, drily humorous, darkly ironic.

    When I hear or read people freaking out about the remote possibility that a single fertilized cell might be prevented from implantation due to a birth control method (the “abortifacient” ridiculousness — you can’t prove it doesn’t happen!!!) I wonder if they are aware that that’s what happens to most fertilized eggs naturally.

  • P J Evans

    I wonder if they are aware that that’s what happens to most fertilized eggs naturally

    I assume they aren’t. Because most people really don’t know that. And with the conservatives being about as pro-education as the early Communists….

  • http://twitter.com/Rhysdux Rhysdux

    I doubt that very much. I had biology at a Catholic school, and the teacher–well, the nuns who ran the place wouldn’t let her talk about human reproduction and how it worked or how it compared to the lower animals. The nuns said that reproduction was a religious matter, not a matter of biology.

    Let me repeat that. Reproduction. Was A. Religious. Matter. 

    It. Was Not. A Matter. Of. Biology.
    Turn that one over in your brain a few times.I didn’t even know until last year–and only then because I found out on the Internet–that most fertilized eggs don’t implant.  I assume that I’m typical of people my age who received a Catholic education.

  • FangsFirst

     

    I assume that I’m typical of people my age who received a Catholic education.

    In fairness, while the mechanics were covered in my public school¹ education, I don’t think the fact of primarily failed implantations was covered.

    ¹American definition, though I tend to think my USian-ness shows even when not stated. I suppose I’m still just half confused by the British definition though.

  • Anonymous

     O_O  Your school covered the mechanics?  That would make you the first person I know of under about 30 or so who’s said that.

    No, really, the vast majority of the young people I know say that they learned everything they know about the biology of sex from porn.

  • FangsFirst

    O_O  Your school covered the mechanics?  That would make you the first person I know of under about 30 or so who’s said that.

    No,
    really, the vast majority of the young people I know say that they
    learned everything they know about the biology of sex from porn.

    Yep. Obviously didn’t address the details of coitus in detail, but I seem to recall them being directly addressed. I also remember in middle school a “write questions down anonymously” (you can imagine how many stupid ones there were) session.Worth noting that I grew up in a college town (Columbia, MO) which I think had a big effect on a lot of this (damn liberal educators!!!1)Of course, I also had the benefit of a mother who could tell me in excruciating detail if she so chose. And the willingness to read in the encyclopedia.

  • Anonymous

    O_O  Your school covered the mechanics?  That would make you the first person I know of under about 30 or so who’s said that.

    I’m 31, but my younger siblings went through the same Berkeley public school system that I did, and I don’t think our experiences were that different.  Around 7th or 8th grade, we had a health class where we discussed the mechanics and watched some Swedish sex ed video; it included footage of pelvic exams, sex (R-rated level, with a Miracle of Life-style ejaculation clip), and childbirth.  I think the shot of the placenta coming out may have halved the city’s teen pregnancy rate; most of the class shrieked like they were watching Alien.  I assume we also got written materials and could ask questions, but I don’t remember much of that.  I do remember everyone carrying sacks of flour around for a week or two, to simulate what it’s like to have a newborn; if you dropped your sack or left it somewhere, you got marked down.  (I got out of that by doing an essay on the reproductive habits of ratfish instead.)

    10th grade, we had a more sophisticated Social Living class which covered sex and drugs and so forth.  Condoms on cucumbers, Annie Sprinkle’s “how to get to know your cervix” bit, STD photos.  Lots of animated class discussions on risky behavior, how to make sure that anything you’re doing is mutually consensual, and so forth.  It was quite nice.

    No, really, the vast majority of the young people I know say that
    they learned everything they know about the biology of sex from porn.

    I think I learned most of it when I was nine or ten, from the two dozen kids’ sex ed books my grandparents had, and from my mom’s nursing manuals.  I know the latter source is where I first saw the bodies of intersex people.I didn’t look at porn until a couple of years later, but it was definitely still informative.  Even mainstream, professional porn showed a wider range of races, orientations, body types and activities than I found in any educational book.  (Which was, of course, the only reason I was watching it.  For science.)

  • Anonymous

     So…Cali sex ed: Really thorough; gives kids a realistic idea about the mechanics and possible consequences of sexual activity.

    Alabama sex ed: “Birth control fails sometimes.  It is impossible to not harm yourself with premarital sex, either physically or emotionally.  So don’t do it.”

    Yeah, I kinda got the short end of the stick there.

  • Consumer Unit 5012

     

    O_O  Your school covered the mechanics?  That would make you the first person I know of under about 30 or so who’s said that.

    No,
    really, the vast majority of the young people I know say that they
    learned everything they know about the biology of sex from porn.

    Abstinence-only sex ed at its most successful?

  • Anonymous

     I think that would actually succeed at getting people to start backing comprehensive sex ed.  When they talk about abstinence-only, point out that kids WILL want to know how sex works, and that a failure to teach it will result in kids learning from porn.

  • Anonymous

    O_O  Your school covered the mechanics?  That would make you the first person I know of under about 30 or so who’s said that.

    No,
    really, the vast majority of the young people I know say that they
    learned everything they know about the biology of sex from porn.

    I got to hear about the mechanics in school and I’m twenty-three. Health class was much more concerned with STIs, but we did get the woman from Planned Parenthood who explained that the condom goes on the penis and the penis goes in the vagina.

  • Rikalous

     O_O  Your school covered the mechanics?  That would make you the first person I know of under about 30 or so who’s said that.

    No,
    really, the vast majority of the young people I know say that they
    learned everything they know about the biology of sex from porn.My (Norcal Bay Area) school covered the mechanics. I didn’t appreciate it at the time, because I resented the fact that we were spending time talking about sex and drugs instead of the proper science we used to have during that period.

  • Amaryllis

     I had biology at a Catholic school, and the teacher–well, the nuns who
    ran the place wouldn’t let her talk about human reproduction and how it
    worked or how it compared to the lower animals. The nuns said that
    reproduction was a religious matter, not a matter of biology.

    Let me repeat that. Reproduction. Was A. Religious. Matter. 

    It. Was Not. A Matter. Of. Biology…I assume that I’m typical of people my age who received a Catholic education.

    I’ve been keeping out of this, not having the time or energy to walk the line between “these bishops are being stupidly awful” and “the church is not fact Satan incarnate.” And I don’t know how old you are.

    But I would like to note that your experience is not in fact universal. In both my Catholic school, several decades ago, and in my daughter’s much more recently, the facts of human reproduction, including the methods of preventing it, were explained quite clearly in the Biology and Health curricula.

    It is certainly true that the official Church’s views were also taught– in the Religion classes. Because sex and reproduction are not only biological matters, any more than anything else that humans do.

  • http://lost-erizo.livejournal.com/ LE

    I’m actually interested in what was covered and at what stage, because I hear a lot of Catholics talk about this and their experiences are WILDLY different from each other, which makes me suspect that there is no widely applicable common experience.  Which may in part explain why so many Catholics believe wild myths about human biology, and about the Church’s teaching on such.

    Myself for example – I went to a Catholic K-8 school in the Philadelphia suburbs  in the 80s and we never covered sex ed or even human biology at all.  Not even one of those “take all the girls aside in 6th grade and explain the basics of menstruation” sort of things.  Nada, zip.  And my mother was a bit too hands off and academic about the whole thing, so if I hadn’t read Judy Blume I would have had no idea what was happening to me.  

    We did have “health class” in High School (private, Catholic, all girls, run by an order of Nuns), but this was a 1/2 credit class during sophomore year which was essentially a dry memorization of the anatomy of the reproductive organs with little or no coverage of the timing of events (well, we covered the menstrual cycle.  But not conception).  We got the principles of why NFP was preferred in religion class, but no actual practical info on how to (wouldn’t want us to actually _use_ it before marriage).  I got a bit more in AP Bio, but that was mostly because our teacher was pregnant at the time (and while she would talk about pregnancies and child development at length, none of us were cheeky enough to ask her about conception).

    So basically while I theoretically had sex ed, pretty much everything I learned about actual sex (and reproduction and birth control etc. etc.) I learned on the internet in college.

  • FangsFirst

    so if I hadn’t read Judy Blume I would have had no idea what was happening to me. 

    This just seems so monstrously wrong to me.

    “Yeah let’s leave a bunch of young women going ‘DEAR GOD I’M BLEEDING AM I DYING WHAT THE HELL.'”

    That sounds like such a great idea!

  • http://lost-erizo.livejournal.com/ LE

    Well, I think at the point that I started bleeding and started to panic, Mom would have sat me down and explained.  As it was, she handed me a bunch of supplies (which included one of those things that I thank FSM daily has gone the way of the Dodo – A BELT), asked if I knew what to do with them, and we were both able to avoid actually discussing it.

    I shouldn’t give the impression that my mom was some horribly repressed Catholic who couldn’t bring herself to talk about girly bits – in my conversations with her as an adult I’ve come to discover that in some cases she was shocked and appalled about what she didn’t know about the goings on in my grade school*, and in other cases she thought she’d been clear about things but I was so mortified by the whole conversation that I didn’t ask the right questions and the important stuff sailed straight over my head (the discussion about sex, for example, just came way too early.  She explained the mechanics of how it worked, but being 9 and not having any brothers I really had no concept of what a penis was).  Her main fault was assuming I understood more than I actually did, and not bringing it up often enough that I had a chance to get over my embarrassment.

    *for example, the one nun that still used corporal punishment when I was in 1st grade.  Mom was horrified when I told her (at age 22), and she had very few illusions about nuns having gone to convent schools her entire life and having been a career parochial school teacher herself.

  • FangsFirst

     

    I shouldn’t give the impression that my mom was some horribly repressed
    Catholic who couldn’t bring herself to talk about girly bits

    I should probably clarify that it wasn’t a knock against your mom, by any means (implied, intentional, or incidental)–for me, it’s about schooling addressing that level of sex education.
    Sure, with a religious school, I know why they might neglect to include sex, because it involves other people (still a bad idea, though)…but this is helping someone understand what, almost without exception, WILL happen to their own bodies. That just seems inexcusably neglectful.

  • http://lost-erizo.livejournal.com/ LE

    Don’t worry – I didn’t think anyone was dissing my mom,  Rather, I realized I was painting a bit of a skewed picture with my posts.

  • FangsFirst

     

    Rather, I realized I was painting a bit of a skewed picture with my posts.

    Indeed, I did not want to suggest that what I’d taken from your post was a skewed picture! :)

  • http://deird1.dreamwidth.org Deird

    so if I hadn’t read Judy Blume I would have had no idea what was happening to me.

    Judy Blume did a lot for sex education…

  • Tricksterson

    Which is probably why so many people try to get that book banned from libraries.

  • Anonymous

     I went to a Catholic school.  The only reason I even know how the biological mechanics of reproduction work is because I was dead-set on learning EVERYTHING in my biology book, whether it was mentioned in class or not.

  • Aine

     I was in public school, and got sex ed in Catholic Religious Education as well- it was quite detailed, used the appropriate biological terminology (ie, zygote, embryo, fetus instead of “baby, baby, baby”). This was in the late nineties though, so it could be a product of generation rather than dogma.

    Of course, we didn’t learn about how to use contraception- just a detailed description of the official Catholic position on why we weren’t to use any. There was a lot of mention of it ‘coming between” a couple, and marring their enjoyment of the sacrament of matrimony (because every time you have sex as a married couple, you are in theory re-celebrating that sacrament).

  • Matri

    I could be wrong, folks, but I’m pretty sure Sam Osborne’s comment was tongue-in-cheek, drily humorous, darkly ironic.

    Hard to tell. This is the right-wing we’re talking about. You’d think you can recognize satire or Poes simply because it will be so over-the-top that no sane person would rightfully say those things.

    And then this happens:

    Take what transpired recently in Tampa, Florida, where tea party
    activists helped defeat a widely supported measure that would have
    funded light rail and road improvements in Hillsborough County. In the
    lead-up to a ballot initiative on the penny-per-dollar sales tax
    increase to fund the project, the local conservative paper, the Tampa Bay Examiner,
    ran a series on Agenda 21 plus commentary suggesting that the “smart
    growth” principles underlying the light rail proposal were simply
    “cover for an agenda to transfer American sovereignty to various
    tentacles of the United Nations.”

  • Katie

    The idea that the Pill causes embryos not to implant is wrong, and is based on a old theory about how thick the uterine lining needs to be for implantation to occur, and the way that the Pill works to thin the uterine lining.  There have been several studies (that I’m too lazy to try to dig up at the moment) that have found that women on the Pill don’t have zygotes fail to implant at higher rate than women who aren’t using any contraceptives.  This is because if the Pill isn’t working, and you ovulate, the uterine lining is also thick enough for implantation to happen.

    Interestingly, one of these same studies found that women who were using NFP had zygotes fail to implant a rate greater than that of women who were using neither birth control nor NFP.  This is because when a woman using NFP conceived unexpectedly, it was usually because she ovulated later in her cycle, at which point the uterus wasn’t receptive to implantation.

    Or in other words, The Pill isn’t abortive, but NFP is.

  • Lori

     
    Or in other words, The Pill isn’t abortive, but NFP is.  

    I feel like I should be at least slightly ashamed of how much I love this bit of information, but I’m not.   

  • P J Evans

    I can’t claim to understand current theory on how the Pill works, but I remember having morning sickness for three weeks out of every month during the couple of years I used it. It did, however, reduce the effing cramps.

  • Jeff Weskamp

    I checked my local Yellow Pages, and I can’t find any listings for the First Church of Ashtaroth in my area.  I am bitterly, bitterly disappointed.

  • MaryKaye

    I avoided pregnancy for many years by having sexual tastes that didn’t run to penis-in-vagina; we used condoms occasionally but mostly didn’t need to (monogamous long-term relationship with clean bills of health).  So I never was on the Pill.  But late in life my reproductive system suddenly decided to kill me.  As I was slowly but inexorably bleeding to death (it took about a month to get to the fainting point) my doctors tried various things.  The one that worked with acceptable side effects was a Mirena IUD.

    I can’t quite say it saved my life, but I’d already had one surgery and the next one would have been hysterectomy.  I am deeply grateful to the scientists who developed contraceptives for saving me from major, debilitating surgery.

    Anyone who says I should have been denied contraceptives because of their tender conscience, well, I would like to offer them the chance to have some of their internal organs cut out and discarded.

    The Pill, incidentally, also stopped the bleeding but had unbearably bad side effects:  I am nastily sensitive to estrogen.  Back when I was ovulating I could tell when it happened by the 8-hour spike of severe depression and anxiety.  The Pill was like that but all the time. The Mirena has progesterone but not estrogen and it’s fine.

  • Mackrimin

    So what about the religious liberty of the majority of American Catholics who like the idea of preventive health care for women?

    Are they prevented from leaving the Catholic Church? Because if they aren’t, I don’t see how their religious liberty enters this. However, they – those Catholics – _are_ treading on other people’s religious liberty, should their continued membership in Catholic Church give it the power and prestige to effect laws based on its dogma.

    You can like an idea all you want, but if you continue to belong to an organization that fights against it, then that’s what you’ve chosen.

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    I suspect the National Conference of Child Buggerers is feeling butthurt that no indictment or disgrace of any bishop has generated anything like the kind of outpouring of protest and sympathy for the offender from the laity with which thousands of misguided and amoral Penn State football fans greeted the disgrace of Joe Paterno for covering up his subordinate’s indulgence in priestiality.

  • Tricksterson

    And wasn’t his death ever so convenient for oh so many people.  yes, I’m trying to drum up a silly conspiracy theory for gits and shiggles, why do you ask?

  • WingedBeast

    Once upon a time, the Catholic Church (Why single them out, any church of regional majority population) had the magic ability (or at least they though they did) to enforce goodness upon people.  They thought that, if the people couldn’t do this one evil thing, they would be less evil.*  Reality never really worked that way.

    Homosexual people didn’t stop being homosexual.  They didn’t stop wanting romantic and/or sexual contact with people of the same sex.  They just got killed for it.  Women didn’t stop wanting some level of power in their own lives.  They just got ostricized for it.  People didn’t stop thinking the “wrong” things about religion, they just got burned to death for it.

    But, the fantasy still lives on.  “We can make people good by enforcing morality upon them, whether they agree or not.”  Only, here and now, the Catholic Church isn’t trying to enforce this on their priests, nuns, and others who volunteer to go into this enforcement.  They’re trying to enforce this their employees who are employed in non-religious context.

    The doctor/nurse/orderly/janitor/accountant/professor/librarian/cafeteria workier/lawyers are all not hired in religious context.  Therefore, you don’t get any more right to “refuse to engage” in their “immoral” activities than does a member of the KKK allowed to deny spousal coverage for his employee in an interracial marriage.

    *To do so, they had to ignore two tenets of Christianity, A. that wanting to do certain evils is in and of itself evil and B. that there are no degrees of evil.

  • Lori

     
    But, the fantasy still lives on.  “We can make people good by enforcing morality upon them, whether they agree or not.”  Only, here and now, the Catholic Church isn’t trying to enforce this on their priests, nuns, and others who volunteer to go into this enforcement.  They’re trying to enforce this their employees who are employed in non-religious context.  

    IDK. It seems like that fantasy, now at least, is “We can make  society  good if we just force all the bad people to change or die and if society is good enough it will produce good people.” 

    This fantasy has the benefit of being essentially not falsifiable for those who believe it since one can always say that society simply hasn’t yet gotten good enough to produce the proper effect and therefore we just need to keep on purging bad people until the benefits kick in. 

  • Kiba

    Well, color me surprised. From USA Today:

    The rule goes into effect Aug. 1, but if objections are raised, another year’s extension is possible.

    That was no consolation to Catholic leaders. The White House is “all talk, no action” on moving toward compromise, said Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.

    “There has been a lot of talk in the last couple days about compromise, but it sounds to us like a way to turn down the heat, to placate people without
    doing anything in particular,” Picarello said. “We’re not going to do anything until this is fixed.”

    That means removing the provision from the health care law altogether, he said, not simply changing it for Catholic employers and their insurers. He cited the
    problem that would create for “good Catholic business people who can’t in
    good conscience cooperate with this.”

    “If I quit this job and opened a Taco Bell, I’d be covered by the mandate,” Picarello said.

    Emphasis mine. 

    http://www.usatoday.com/news/washington/story/2012-02-08/catholics-contraceptive-mandate/53014864/1

  • Anonymous

    “That means removing the provision from the health care law altogether, he said, not simply changing it for Catholic employers and their insurers.”

    Since my rage now can’t go much higher anyway, I’m wondering something about the “religious exemptions” included in recent marriage equality bills. These have typically been framed in terms of protecting religious organizations from providing services to same-sex married couples, but is a Catholic hospital in New York State allowed to refuse spousal coverage to a legally married employee with a same-sex spouse? Does anyone know?

  • Anonymous

    Why do we have employer-provided health care again? Americans seem to support dictating the terms of their plans on a national level by a decent margin, probably because employers like the Catholic Church are abusing the privilege of being able to pick their own health care coverage. (Why wouldn’t you cover this stuff? It saves money!)

  • Anonymous

    Perhaps an acceptable compromise would be to carve out a “Whiny Bossy Baby Pissy Pants” exception where individual employers could submit a sworn affidavit where “[Employer] hereby affirms that [Employer] is a Whiny Bossy Baby Pissy Pants who will take [Employer’s] ball and go home unless [Employer] gets its way.” It would further affirm that rather than passively help a few people who might possibly be unworthy, they prefer to actively harm people otherwise worthy of their aid. In addition to swearing under oath that they are a Whiny Bossy Baby Pissy Pants, etc., they would also have to submit a public declaration to local print, radio, and television media that they are Whiny Bossy Baby Pissy Pants, as well as place in public view on all their places of business large decals of a whiny baby pissing its pants.

  • dougindeap

    Largely lost in the fuming over some supposed moral dilemma is that THE HEALTH CARE LAW DOES NOT FORCE EMPLOYERS TO ACT CONTRARY TO THEIR BELIEFS–unless one supposes the employers’ religion forbids even payment of money to the government (all of us should enjoy such a religion).  In keeping with the law, those with conscientious objections to providing their employees with qualifying health plans may decline to provide any health plans and pay an assessment instead or, alternatively, provide plans that do not qualify (e.g., without provisions they dislike) and pay lower assessments.  

    No moral dilemma, no need for an exemption.  That the employers must at least pay an assessment is hardly justification for an exemption.  In other contexts, for instance, we have relieved conscientious objectors from required military service, requiring them instead to provide alternative service in noncombatant roles or useful civilian work.  In any event, paying assessment does not pose a moral dilemma, but rather a garden-variety gripe common to most taxpayers–who don’t much like paying taxes and who object to this or that action of the government.  Should each of us feel free to deduct from our taxes the portion that we figure would be spent on those actions (e.g., wars, health care, teaching evolution, subsidizing churches, whatever) each of us opposes?  The hue and cry for an exemption is predicated on the false claim–or, more plainly, lie–that employers otherwise are forced to act contrary to their religions.  

    Questions about the government requiring or prohibiting something that conflicts with someone’s faith are entirely real, but not new.  The courts have confronted such issues and have generally ruled that under the Constitution the government cannot enact laws specifically aimed at a particular religion (which would be regarded a constraint on religious liberty contrary to the First Amendment), but can enact laws generally applicable to everyone or at least broad classes of people (e.g., laws concerning pollution, contracts, fraud, crimes, discrimination, employment, etc.) and can require everyone, including those who may object on religious grounds, to abide by them. Were it otherwise and people could opt out of this or that law with the excuse that their religion requires or allows it, the government and the rule of law could hardly operate.

  • Tonio

     Good point about taxes. Some opponents of same-sex marriage claim to be affected by the tax status of married gay couples, where the opponents’ taxes are “subsidizing” homosexuality. With both this and the benefits issue, I suspect opponents think they have far more control over others’ behavior than they actually do. They talk like 1980s colleges divesting from companies that did business in apartheid-era South Africa, except the colleges had a reasonable argument that the companies were helping perpetuate racial oppression.

  • Guest-again

    1. Bishops versus orphans (the orphans didn’t come out ahead, but they weren’t utterly abandoned in the end, except by the Catholic Church).
    Here is some history from a  Catholic source –
    ‘Washington D.C., Feb 17, 2010 / 04:59 pm (CNA).-
    Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Washington announced today
    that it is shutting down its foster care and public adoption program.
    The District of Columbia said the charity would be ineligible for
    service because of the new law recognizing same-sex “marriage.”
    “Although Catholic Charities has an 80-year legacy of high quality
    service to the vulnerable in our nation’s capital, the D.C. Government
    informed Catholic Charities that the agency would be ineligible to
    serve as a foster care provider due to the impending D.C. same-sex
    marriage law,” the organization said in a statement.

    The Catholic Charities affiliate transitioned its foster and
    adoption program to the National Center for Children and Families
    (NCCF) on Feb. 1. The transition includes seven staff, 43 children and
    their biological families, and 35 foster families. The transition was
    scheduled to coincide with the expiration of the current contract
    between Catholic Charities and D.C.’s Child and Family Services Agency
    (CFSA).’
    http://www.catholicnewsagency.com/news/same-sex_marriage_law_forces_d.c._catholic_charities_to_close_adoption_program/

    2. Since when did hormone treatments become abortions, at least in the U.S.? And no, I’m not trying to be obtuse – no one in the late 70s or early 80s batted an eye at the idea that various health issues, mainly but not exclusively female, could be treated using hormones.

  • Tonio

    I wish those bishops had been familiar with Huckleberry Finn’s famous “Alright, I’ll go to hell!” dichotomy. In his situation, they might have ratted out on Jim. As Fred as explained, they don’t seem to care that their actions have consequences for vulnerable people.

  • Tricksterson

    Wouldn’t even have been a contest.

  • Anonymous

    Since when did hormone treatments become abortions, at least in the U.S.?

    Don’t you know? Everything they don’t like is an abortion now. Sort like how “Caesar” went from being a name to a title.

  • Lori

    Sort of OT: Another Dem has commented on a nasty bit of Republican personhood legislation by trying to add a rather pointed and funny amendment. This one comes to us from Sen. Constance Johnson of Oklahoma

     However, any action in which a man ejaculates or otherwise deposits
    semen anywhere but in a woman’s vagina shall be interpreted and
    construed as an action against an unborn child. 

     

    http://www.patheos.com/blogs/friendlyatheist/2012/02/09/an-oklahoma-lawmaker-makes-news-in-a-good-way/

    Go Sen. Johnson. (Also, serious props to her in general. She’s an African American female Democratic elected official in Oklahoma. I bet she has some stories.)

  • Tonio

    Funny! That sounds like the old story about Elvis being too quick on the draw with a date and musing, “Look at all the babies we just killed.” Now I imagine mass arrests of newly pubescent boys in Tulsa.

  • Jenny Islander

    About the whole “Well, I use contraceptives for non-contraceptive purposes” thing–IME it’s an attempt to point out that “Contraceptives are merely VEHICLES FOR LUST” is not correct, so people who don’t want there to be contraceptives had better find a reason that actually describes reality.

    IOW, for much the same reason that there is a Tumblr called “Planned Parenthood Saved My Life.”

  • Emcee, cubed

    < I also remember in middle school a "write questions down anonymously"
    (you can imagine how many stupid ones there were) session.

    Having had this session in my public school as well (can’t remember if it was junior high, or high school), we can add “and the teacher will answer only those questions they feel comfortable answering”, which means very little information will be given at all. Not to mention that no information was given prior to this (it was literally, “Okay, this is the sex education part of the health class. Write down any question you have.”), so most people didn’t know enough to actually have questions.

    We won’t even go into the “anonymous” part. I mean, this is a teacher you’ve had for at least most of the school year. If they didn’t know everyone’s handwriting by now…

  • FangsFirst

     

    “and the teacher will answer only those questions they feel comfortable
    answering”, which means very little information will be given at all.

    I can’t swear to paying tons of attention, but I think most everything but “How many licks does it take to get to the center…” and similar middle school jokes (in a middle school?! The thought!) was answered. They (the teachers) seemed to be steeling themselves pretty hard to take it all very seriously.

  • P J Evans

     At my school it was done by the PE teachers (boys and girls separately). Not much handwriting for them to go by, in that class. (I don’t remember an anonymous-questions session. It could have been a lot of fun, especially since a lot of the kids were Catholics.)

  • http://profiles.google.com/fader2011 Alex Harman

    The timing of Paterno’s demise reminds me of Dave Barry’s sarcastic comment on Warren G. Harding’s response to Teapot Dome and the other scandals that bedeviled his administration: “President Harding, displaying the kind of class that Richard Nixon can only dream about, died.”

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Patrick-McGraw/100001988854074 Patrick McGraw

    My sister declined my offer to give The Talk to her sons, even though I would have included an introduction to Mendelian genetics, mitosis vs. meiosis, the differences between an egg, zygote, blastocyst, embryo, fetus, and larval human (a.k.a. baby), and a written exam at the end. I think I even included something about sex in there.

  • Anonymous AUCath

    “Well-woman visits, screening for gestational diabetes, HPV testing, STD
    counseling, HIV testing and counseling, breastfeeding support and
    supplies, contraception, and screening and counseling for domestic
    violence.”…..

    If The HHS mandate covered everything on this list except contraception, there would not be a problem.  The bishops are not objecting to HPV testing, STD, counseling, etc…They are objecting to contraception coverage.  Im sure they are fine with everything else.

  • Matri

    That means removing the provision from the health care law
    altogether, he said, not simply changing it for Catholic employers and
    their insurers.

    Please explain that. They don’t give a single god-damned thought about “the rest”.

    They opposed the whole damned law. Bringing up contraception is just a way to distract folks like you from thinking that they hate women.

  • Tricksterson

    Yes, but they’re also willing to throw all those things out the door because of ciontraception.

  • Anonymous AUCath

    Here is the thing. I read fred’s post and the article he linked to.  The guy from the bishops conference said that in relation to the administration giving catholic organizations a year to adapt.  He was talking about how that particular compromise was way too weak.  I would be willing to bet that if the administration came out and said all of those religious organizations were exempt from contraceptive coverage but had to cover for the other things on that list, everything would be fine 

  • Matri

    He was talking about how that particular compromise was way too weak.

    And I say your argument was “way too weak” without quantifying anything.

    Does that make me right and you wrong?

  • Caravelle

    They’re holding all “the rest” hostage to the contraceptive coverage though…

  • Anonymous

    duplicate post


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