Saturday, February 11, 2012

Quote Of The Day

New York Times columnist Gail Collins, on the U.S. Catholic bishops' attempt to paint the Obama Administration's decision to provide access to free contraceptives to women who want it as the work of the devil:
[T]he bishops have totally failed to convince their own faithful that birth control is a moral evil and now appear to be trying to get the federal government to do the job for them.

The Battle Behind the Fight
I don't think anyone has put this quite so baldly, at least not in a dead-tree publication. Catholic women overwhelmingly use birth control. Catholic doctrine is clearly not important to them, let alone to the rest of us. All the pontificating about how religious rights of churches that own hospitals and other businesses will be violated if they're forced to pay for contraception ignores the fact that Catholics have freely chosen to tell their religion's leaders to take a hike on this issue. In summing up a recent poll on religious belief and contraception, the Guttmacher Institute wrote:
  • Among all women who have had sex, 99% have ever used a contraceptive method other than natural family planning. This figure is virtually the same among Catholic women (98%).
  • Among sexually active women of all denominations who do not want to become pregnant, 69% are using a highly effective method (i.e., sterilization, the pill or another hormonal method, or the IUD).
  • Some 68% of Catholic women use a highly effective method, compared with 73% of Mainline Protestants and 74% of Evangelicals.
  • Only 2% of Catholic women rely on natural family planning; this is true even among Catholic women who attend church once a month or more.
Contraceptive Use Is The Norm Among Religious Women
As USA Today points out regarding a recent poll by the Public Religion Research Institute:
58% of all Catholics agree employers should be required to provide their employees with health care plans that cover contraception. That slides down to 52% for Catholic voters, 50% for white Catholics.

New surveys: Catholics want birth control coverage
For those who aren't good at math, that 58 percent figure means that there are at least some Catholic men who believe birth control should be available for free, too.

And why not? When you get right down to it, this decision benefits most of us in some way or another. Preventing unwanted pregnancy leads to less expense later, from preventing birth-related health problems to lowering crime. Oh, and as Media Matters notes:
Catholic United's Executive Director: "There Is A Silver Lining In Today's Ruling. Increased Access To Contraceptive Services Will Dramatically Reduce The Abortion Rate In America." James Salt, executive director of the group Catholics United, issued this statement in response to the contraception ruling[.]

New Polls Showing Catholic Support For Contraception Coverage Further Undermine "War On Religion" Claim
It's a winning idea for anyone who isn't married to some baseless idea of when a human life starts.

For once, the Obama Administration confounded me by doing the right thing. Of course, he did it in such a way as to avoid directly confronting the religious fanatics, so at least in that regard he stayed in character. He won't make a habit of it, but this definitely is a good decision, and anyone who thinks it violates his religion needs to take a step back and ask himself whether enforcing his religion's point of view on an entire society makes sense when its leaders can't even convince their own adherents.

And frankly, I don't even care what they think about that question.

UPDATE/Afterword: Just to belabor the obvious for a moment, it seems pretty clear to me that a newly elected President Ron Paul or a newly elected President Santorum would make short work of this new insurance requirement on taking office. I'm not sure whether Mitt Romney would, and as Art Pronin points out at, neither is he, but there's enough reason to suspect he would to give anyone who valued this policy pause.

So this is a smart political move for the President, which is something I've mentioned before. What amazes me is that he did it anyway.

UPDATE 2: Fixed attribution of the quote about Mitt Romney in the previous update. I had said it was Taylor Marsh who wrote it, but it was an article by another writer at her site.


lawguy said...

Its not just the catholic fathers, the Missouri Synod is standing beside the catholic church in this. Is Luther spinning in his grave?

These church's positions were a big deal to the same people (as Digby said) who thought Shivo was a winner for the right.

Cujo359 said...

Hey, lawguy, long time!

Anyway, according to that poll, contraception is supported even more heavily by "mainline" protestants, which I would think would include Lutherans. So the Catholics aren't the only ones trying to have the state enforce their morality on their own people.

Not that I find that a bit surprising. I have very little use for religion, and we're seeing one of the reasons why.