The Catholic War on Women


Whenever we near a presidential election in the U.S., everybody takes a look at the economy. If it is anything but strong, it will be an issue. If it is strong, the focus will be on a very different set of issues. Those are the elections where we should expect to see Republicans push wedge issues (e.g., their continued opposition to same-sex marriage, abortion, and the left's so-called war on religion). Some of them would undoubtedly prefer to run on economic issues, but a decent economy means they cannot do so. This leaves them with their wedge issues. The most prominent Democratic politician in the country is coming to take their guns, someone spotted a transgendered person who dares to believe they should be part of society, or (gasp) someone doesn't believe in gods.

When President Obama sought to reform some aspects of our broken health care system, one of the things he wanted to do was to provide all women with access to affordable contraception. By removing the cost barrier, women would be more free than ever before to choose for themselves whether they will use contraception.

Who could possibly have a problem with that? As it turns out, the Catholic Church has a big problem with it. You see, even though an overwhelming majority of Catholics in the U.S. use contraception, the Church still adheres to the Vatican position that birth control is essentially equivalent to abortion. And Republicans desperate for a wedge issue eagerly took this one up to argue that Obama was waging war on religion.

The Obama administration sought to provide access to contraception by requiring employers to select health care plans that include contraceptive coverage, which most already do. The Catholic Church and many Republicans were outraged because they claim this required employers to violate their conscience by providing health services with which they do not agree. It does not seem to matter what sort of exemptions the Obama administration agreed to offer because that was never really the point. Republicans thought they have an effective wedge issue with which to attract moronic voters.

I applaud the Obama administration's plan to provide women with access to affordable contraception. This struck me as being about improving health care and reducing the number of unwanted children. If only the Catholic bishops would spend as much time working on the prevention of child rape as they do opposing contraception, they might be able to make a real difference.