A national controversy has risen from the Obama administration requiring employers’ insurance companies to pay for contraceptives. Most vociferous in the debate is the Catholic Church. Catholics believe that using contraceptives is a sin, and the Church as a whole believes that as such it should not have to pay for contraceptives.
The Catholic Church employs a great many people, not only as clergy, but in Catholic Social Services as well as Catholic hospitals. What the Church seems to be forgetting is that Catholic Social Services and Catholic hospitals employ people who are not Catholic by faith. Yet, they force every person who is employed by them to subscribe to their beliefs by not allowing their insurance to cover birth control.
If anyone is attempting to establish a religion or prevent the free exercise thereof, it is the Catholic Church.
Physician prescribed contraceptives are used in applications other than simple birth control. It can be used to alleviate extreme menstrual cramping. It can also be used for reduction of amount and duration of menstrual bleeding, regulation of periods clearing up some types of acne, lowering the risk of endometrial and ovarian cancers, and treatment of endometriosis and polycystic ovary syndrome. Side effects may include not having unplanned pregnancies.
Yet, the Catholic Church is insistent that it should be exempt from paying for contraceptives on the grounds that it is against their beliefs. They would rather a thousand women be denied a pill that may save their life or at least make them feel better in general than one Catholic have access to insurance-financed birth control.
Any Catholic who truly believes the Church’s doctrine will no doubt avoid the use of birth control regardless if it is financed by the insurance company. Surely most of them realize that just because an insurance company will cover most of the cost of a prescription doesn’t mean that they automatically have to purchase it.
The government’s requirement for the Church’s insurance company to pay for contraceptives therefore does not establish a religion, or prevent the free exercise thereof. Catholics employed by the Church and its satellite services can continue to refuse birth control because the law as it is written does not require them to use it. It simply requires their insurance to pay for it.
Even if the Catholic Church had their own insurance company, their religious beliefs dictate to Catholics that the use of birth control is a sin. They remain silent on whether or not the religion forbids their insurance company from paying for others who aren’t of Catholic faith to use it.
The bottom line is that this law does nothing to hamper Catholics from celebrating their long-standing beliefs. It does not require them to use birth control, and therefore does not violate their 1st Amendment Rights.
However, preventing non-Catholics from having access to reduced-cost birth control is a violation of the non-Catholics’ 1st Amendment rights. They are preventing the free exercise of a great majority of people’s religions simply by refusing to allow anyone who is employed in any of their satellite services access to insurance-covered, physician prescribed birth control.