Bishops Want Businesses Exempt From Birth Control Coverage

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has not been shy about expressing its opposition to the Obama administration refusing to change a rule requiring that Catholic institutions provide health insurance coverage for contraception for employees at no additional cost. Now the bishops are straight-out demanding that private businesses have the right to deny women insurance coverage for contraception.

Earlier this week, the White House announced that it would seek to make the rule “more palatable” to religious-affiliated institutions including Catholic colleges and universities. 28 states indeed have laws calling for free access to contraception; eight of these states do not have the religious exemption in the federal rule, which is to go into effect August 1.

Despite the White House’s efforts, Anthony Picarello, general counsel for the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, drew a line in the sand on Thursday and said that the Obama administration has offered “all talk, no action” about any sort of compromise. The bishops are now demanding that the contraception rule be removed from the health care law, arguing that it is not enough just to change it for Catholic employers and their insurers. As Picarello summed the matter up:

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

According to Picarello, woe to the Catholic business owners who find themselves having to comply with federal law and provide insurance coverage for contraception for their employees.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) responded to the bishops’ announcement with a statement that makes it clear that the fight about the contraception rule is not, as GOP politicians and Catholic leaders have been claiming, about “religious freedom.” It is an “ideological political issue” to exempt all businesses — all private businesses, from Taco Bell to Target — from providing birth control for their employees. Says Gillibrand:

“I am dumbfounded that in the year 2012 we still have to fight over birth control. It is sad that we have to stand here yet again to fight back against another overreach and intrusion into women’s lives.

“This is what it is – a political overreach to roll back access to birth control – not a religious issue. The fact they want to exempt all businesses from providing contraceptive care is just outrageous.

“The power to decide whether or not each individual woman uses contraception should be with that woman – not her boss.  We will not stand for these attempts to undermine the ability of women to make their own decisions.

“If my Republican colleagues want to continue to take this issue head on, we stand ready to oppose any attacks launched against women’s rights and women’s health.”

Despite what the bishops say, not all Catholics share their opposition to contraception. Surveys have found that 98 percent of sexually active Catholic women have used contraceptives, the same number as in the general population. Moreover, most Americans, including most Catholics,  support the Obama administration’s proposal and believe that there should be increased access to contraception.

The bishops, and right-wing Catholic politicians including House Speaker John Boehner and Republican presidential hopeful Rick Santorum act as if their views are eternal. But the Church’s position on contraception has changed over time, as revealed by a historical review of the Church’s stances on this issue (such as John T. Noonan’s Contraception: A History of Its Treatment by the Catholic Theologians and Canonists). The bishops’ and conservative Catholics’ latest attempts to deny women access to contraception shows that they need to wake up and realize this is the 21st century, and that, as Sen. Gillibrand says, “each individual woman” — not her boss, not a bishop — makes her own decision about using birth control.

Related Care2 Coverage

Big Decline in Teenage Pregnancy Rate Thanks to Contraception

The War On The Pill And One Way We Fight Back

Boehner Fights Contraception Rule; Catholic Women Speak Up


Photo by Catholic Westminster


LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

LMj Sunshine

Thank you.

Eternal Gardener
Eternal Gardener4 years ago

The only thing nice I can say about Pope&Co. is that they at least do not deny the existence of climate change.

Norma V.
Norma Villarreal4 years ago

Would you trust a man in a dress and miter to be in charge of contraception? Please...allow priests to marri and quit covering up (alleged) sex abuse.

ROLF P.4 years ago

They look like freaks, the act like freaks, the are FREAKS! Look they even talk to themselves.

Quanta Kiran
Quanta Kiran4 years ago


Jamie B.
Jamie B.4 years ago

Yeah, business owners should not have to provide insurance coverage that they object to. So if/when my yoga studio expands and I hire employees, I won't be covering in their health plan: Viagra (it's purely recreational & contributes to lust), antidepressants (hey, suck it up, nobody's ever died from depression, and these drugs work about the same as placebo!), chemotherapy (kills people and the success rate is about 2% at best), vaccinations (no double-blind control studies have been done), or statins (the risks outweigh the benefits). I will, however, make birth control mandatory for my employees because it sure as heck is cheaper than maternity leave.

Carole L.
Carole L.4 years ago

Adam s:
"It's absolutely a private businesses right to deny any kind of coverage they want. The government has no say in what they pay for. You silly Liberals won't understand that until the government starts telling you how to run your private lives. Get a clue."

You mean like Mitty, Gingrich, and the crew wanting to declare “Life begins at conception”? What you “silly” fright right don’t get is that you want the gov to dictate to women about their bodies. But you scream over the gov protecting women’s access to birth control as “Government over-reach”. Maybe you would like the gov to place cameras in every women’s womb to make sure those fertilized eggs are protected. What about those that don’t attach to the uterine wall, shall women be brought before Congress to “explain” what happened to that precious life that got flushed with her uterine wall during her cycle. And force her to prove that she didn’t ‘cause’ it to abort so she’s not charged with murder.
Do you want to deny boner pills in your health coverage as well?

Carole L.
Carole L.4 years ago

Glenna J.
“When John Kennedy was elected President, he had to SWEAR that he would not make any laws according to papal dictates. America was that afraid of Catholic interference in the laws of secular America...Yet in 2012 we are falling all over ourselves to comply with Catholic dictates???”

Exactly. I’m thinking the Bishops are against birth control because they want a ‘fresh’ batch of children to molest.