Clashing over Contraceptives: Why the Bishops Are Wrong on Birth Control Rules

Article excerpt

The Roman Catholic hierarchy is upset over a recent decision by the Obama administration not to exempt some church-affiliated institutions from a federal mandate requiring employers to provide birth control coverage in health insurance plans. Although their arguments are delivered with great passion, the church leaders are misguided.

This new rule is a common sense approach that forges a reasonable compromise. It doesn't apply to houses of worship, leaving decision-making in the hands of clergy for institutions that are purely spiritual. The rule does cover religiously affiliated entities like hospitals, colleges and social service agencies.

Unlike houses of worship, these institutions serve a public purpose. Most rely on taxpayer subsidies and assist people with different religious perspectives. Many hire individuals without regard to what they believe about theology.

Millions of Americans work in places like these. The government has the right - and even the duty - to protect their interests. If these religiously affiliated entities are given broad exemptions from the law, all of those employees - from the janitor who mops the floors at a Catholic hospital to the attendant who collects fares at a church college parking garage - will find their rights in jeopardy.

The birth control rule is a matter of simple pragmatism. …