Let Catholics ‘opt out” in birth control plan

I don’t understand all the fuss that Catholic universities and hospitals are raising over providing health care for woman that includes mandatory birth control provisions. Why not let “practicing Catholics” following the teachings of their church to “opt out” for the coverage, while permitting non-Catholics what doctors and women’s groups say is a health benefit?

Companies nationwide provide “opt out” provisions to married couples with health insurances at their places of employment. A husband or wife can “opt out” for coverage at one job, while retaining a family coverage at the other. The employer can offer a financial incentive for the opt out, such as $25 a month, thereby saving what it would normally cost to insure that person.

Under the new health care plan, this could satisfy all parties. Women would ensure that all employers would be required to offer such coverage in their health plans for women. Those who want to follow their consciences could decline the benefit and the hospital or university would be “off the hook” from the Catholic ban against such actions for practicing Catholics, but still be required to offer the coverage for those who follow a different set of beliefs.

Let’s say purchasing birth control on the open market can cost a woman $600 a year. and maybe $300 to an employer to provide it through one of its health plans. Why not pay the person $10 a month to “opt out?” That would only cost $120, and the Catholic hospital and/or university would still end up with a savings of $180, not to mention rendering under Caesar what is Caesar’s, while still “rendering” to God what is God’s — without having to force a Catholic’s version of their God on those following another spiritual path or no religious path at all.

Remember when Catholics were banned from eating meat on Fridays? Did we hear any Bishop complain about a Catholic hospital or university providing meat on Fridays in their respective cafeterias? Would the hospital refrain from serving beef and chicken on Fridays? No, they’d offer a patient a choice whether to eat it or not, to follow church teachings or not observe that ritualistic belief. I’ve heard that the majority of persons treated at Catholic hospitals are non-Catholics. I wonder what the make-up or women working at Catholic universities is? Why should “we the people” discriminate against them just to elevate one religion (my old Catholic teachings) over another?

Remember the first thing that the Bill or Rights demanded of the federal government before forming the United States: The First Amendment prohibited “making any law respecting the establishment of religion,” or ” impeding the free exercise” thereof.

This is more a labor issue than a religious issue. Negotiations and compromise can help frame the discussion for the best interests of all.

13 comments on “Let Catholics ‘opt out” in birth control plan

  1. I think what gets lost in this debate is that “birth control” is also used by females for things like treating fibroids, regulating periods that are out of control, migraines, etc. I’m not saying that there are not other ways of treating these things; there are like acupuncture, nutrition, etc but it’s not what most people will do.
    Unfortunately, there is an overlap between religious beliefs (church policy, I should say) and medical ethics… it’s sad, but it is a reality. And unfortunately, despite having policy and teaching parishioners right from wrong (in the pope’s eyes) they don’t believe that people will make the right choice if they actually have free will to exercise. . . .


    • contoveros says:

      I wonder if there is an institutional bias aganst women in the Church that prevents its leaders from seeing women as no more sophisticated than children who cannot make the best decisions in life?

      They act as if the main purpose in life is for women to bear children. I remember, however, that the Baltimore Catechism taught that the purpose was to “know, love and serve God.” I think everyone, no matter what sex, can be guided by that first grade primer rather than a church policy a group of men created for those they thought needed their strict control.


  2. I am commenting – uh – with the option to NOT comment…

    See – I want my freedom to remain just that – MY freedom.

    And yet?

    I want to allow other people to have their choice and make it part of their lives…

    Rescued/Healed and Reformed Catholic speaking here –

    The God I know now wants me to be accountable for my own actions.

    The God I once knew wanted to make my choices for me through the offices of people who were not even qualified for the job of KNOWING me.

    I think the balance is being allowed to opt out of what does not feel as though it is in your best interest.



    • contoveros says:

      “Rescued/Healed and Reformed Catholic”

      Do I have the choice of opting in with that classification? Me, a former altar boy who still remembers just enough Latin to offer responses to priests saying the old-time Mass?

      I adopt your description for all of us raised Catholic who have chosen to see the Creator as a kinder and more understanding Entity, and not as the fire and brimstone old man with a white beard and angry lightning bolt in his hand. Was that the Catholic God or the Greek God Zeus? I get them confused.They both represented the “wrath of god.” Give me the more gentle deity, one full of love and compassion for all, includng prostitutes, tax collectors and other outcasts in society that organized religions tend to overlook when exercising its control over the rest of us.


  3. MindMindful says:

    The issue is ultimately about controlling women. I say — to all the Catholics & evangelicals — if an institution or worker is in the healthcare industry, they PROVIDE HEALTHCARE, & insurance to cover it. PERIOD. And just shut the f*** up about it, or else get out of the healthcare industry.


    • contoveros says:

      You have a way with words, my friend. But, I think the comprimise offered by the US government following some religious concerns was a bit more diplomatic, although I suppose the most conservative in the Catholic Church will not agree.

      Did anyone ever think a bishop would ever condone a woman’s right to decide? That is why the Constitution has the Bill of Rights providing a bright line separating church from state.

      My heart goes out to the compassionate clerics in the church that agree, but, under a vow of obedience to their order must refrain from offering comfort to their flock by siding with women . ..


      • MindMindful says:

        If only the Catholic Church — run by conservative men, to the advantage of conservative men — had the moral highground!! Which it doesn’t, for sure, esp. since the child-rapists began to be SEEN. They really need to let women make their own choices. Which, I understand, Catholic women do re abortion, birth control, etc at about the same rate as the general population ……..anyway, in defiance! I understand the bind this puts on the compassionate clerics who would have the choices made available, though — careers, economics, etc

        I LIKE having that separation between Church & State — & all those wishing to encroach upon it need to be, civilly, politely, FIRMLY stopped.


  4. souldipper says:

    I dislike how many different ways gov’t sends the message out that we cannot think for ourselves.

    If we need to know the consequences of our decisions, fine, but quit taking away the right for people to make them!


    • contoveros says:

      Freedom can only survive when we offer it to all people, despite what one’s religious dogma would want men — or in this case — women — not to have a choice in the matter.


  5. Tana says:

    As you mentioned in comment – it’s all about control. I’m growing to learn to see the beauty in choice and freedom – no matter what choice is acted upon. There’s a lesson, a study, a work in it all.


    • contoveros says:

      The Catholic Church will not change its teaching on this issue, but individuals can decide for themselves whether birth control — practiced by 98 percent of Catholic women — is such a sin that the Almighty will condemn them for such “immoral” behavior.

      No, I think it has more to do with control.

      I’m for individual rights. I too see the beauty in choice and freedom.


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