The outrage has been palpable. The lines have been drawn, and the war is quickly escalating. No, we aren’t talking about the atrocities happening in Syria, or even the quagmire of Afghanistan, we are talking about the pill.
The “culture war” machine has hit overdrive recently since the Obama administration issued a ruling that required Catholic charities, hospitals, and colleges (but not the Catholic church itself) to provide contraception under their health insurance. According to some member of the clergy, this has been an outright assault on the first amendment, and they are crying religious persecution over having to pay for contraception coverage for their female employees (who may or may not be Catholic). Despite the fact that the administration did a quick turnaround, and issued a compromise that required the insurance companies, not the institutions to pay for the pill, many conservatives are still up in arms over the issue.
Let’s try to understand their outrage. Catholics believe that contraception is contrary to God’s will because it interferes with the sanctity of life. They believe that they shouldn’t have to pay for their employees to have access to contraception citing their freedom of religion, and that having their money used for something that is against their religion is a violation of the first amendment.
Sean Hannity had a panel discussion on the topic earlier this week (in which the entire panel consisted of white men…not a single woman was brought on to discuss her opinion). One of the Catholic clergymen was extremely upset and demanded that Catholics be prepared to die for their belief that Catholics should not have to pay for something that is so contrary to their religion.
So to be clear, It is worth putting up a fight to the death in order to prevent women from having reasonable access to the pill…but the tax dollars that go towards killing people? That’s OK, apparently. If the argument is that you don’t want your dollars funding a sinful practice…why not protest war? Clearly “Thou shalt not kill” is a much more straightforward biblical command than “thou shalt not have sex unless you are trying to make a baby.”
I wonder if that clergyman has thought about that? I am pretty sure that killing people is contrary to biblical commands…yet Catholic leadership seems unbothered by the 100,000 Iraqi civilians that were killed in the past decade. Clergy still have to pay some taxes – and some of that money is used to bomb people, and kill people (even American citizens). How is that a lesser issue? It’s alright to kill people with tax dollars…but to have a female doctor get birth control through her insurance plan at a Catholic hospital, that is what is unconscionable?
This sort of selective outrage just reeks of hypocrisy and contradiction. It is the kind of pseudo-issue that conservatives dredge up simply to oppose a decision by the Obama administration for political gain in an election year and nothing else. It is setting women’s rights back 50 years, and making us fight the culture wars that our grandparents fought all over again. There are much, much more important issues facing our nation today.
Whether or not the 18 year old girl working in the cafeteria at a Catholic college can get birth control from her employer’s health insurance plan is not a real political issue. To be clear…nobody is forced to use contraception, it just has to be available if the insured requests it (and 99% of women between the ages of 15-44 have used contraception). Obama is not “stomping on the constitution” or “waging war on religion,” he is simply making sure that all women have equal and reasonable access to preventative care.
Conservatives need to save their selective outrage for something more worthwhile.