It's Contraception for God's Sake!
So--the Obama administration is struggling to explain why it's reasonable to require Catholic hospitals and schools to cover contraception in insurance policies for their employees. Why should Catholics have to spend their money in ways that run counter to their religious beliefs? Isn't that a violation of their religious freedom? Romney and Santorum want to think so.
Background fact: we have a strange healthcare system in this country, where we get insurance coverage through employment. So private businesses have to function partly like public entities, covering whatever types of health care are currently considered standard and mainstream. Health coverage comes to be somewhat government managed, though not government run.
This crazy public/private system can lead to problems for religious institutions that decide to go into business. Consider the poor Schmatholics. Their religous belief is that the body is a sacred vessel. It is an abomination for a surgeon to cut into it, they think. So they're fine with various kinds of medical care, but surgery, no. Thou shalt not perform surgery!
The Schmatholics happen to like to run businesses. They have bookstores, bowling alleys, golf courses, lots of businesses. Given the way health care works in this country, can they really be permitted to provide their employees with their weird, surgery-free insurance policies? Why no, they can't. The health care system we have makes it impossible to grant total religious freedom to Schmatholics who run businesses.
Is that ... awful? Is it an infringement on freedom of religion? No, not really. Schmatholics don't have to run businesses. Surely that's not intrinsic to their religion. They can practice their religion with complete freedom, but when they enter the sphere of business, they have to comply with the rules. In fact, there are lots of rules. If their religion requires swindling people, well too bad, the rules of the business world apply.
Oh but wait, surgery is obviously moral, those Schmatholics are simply insane. Contraception, on the other hand, is debatable.
But no, it isn't. Not even Catholics disagree about it ... not really. Or you wouldn't have the lowest birthrates in the world in mostly Catholic countries like Italy. Surveys show that almost all Catholics disagree with the official position of the church on contraception. If the Catholic church weren't so hierarchical, we'd have to say that Catholics believe in contraception. Because they do. When you go and ask them, they say they believe in it and use it.
What if a procedure really were debatable? Like sex change surgery, for example, or abortion? I can see that it would be overreaching for the government to insist that every insurance policy in the land must cover these procedures. But just like every policy must cover surgery, whatever the Schmatholics think about it, it seems equally straightforward that every policy must cover contraception, whatever Catholic priests think about it. It is simply standard medical care--not controversial at all, except for within a certain (frankly) lunatic fringe.
Nobody seems to be saying that, but it needs to be said.