A new week, a new controversy about “government overreach” from the Right.
The latest is a clause in the healthcare reform bill which requires some religious employers to offer contraception as a part of health coverage for employees. (For a more detailed explanation of the bill, take a look at this Washington Post article that Ezra Klein shared on Facebook.)
The opposition claims that this mandate that religious employers like Catholic hospitals offer employees contraception with their health insurance is government violation of religious institutions’ right to self-determination in accordance with their values. (Additionally, please note that churches are exempt.)
That’s the argument.
The reality is that 99% of women will use contraception in their life. (ASIDE: I’m actually not sure where that number comes from – someone wanna fact check it for me? I’ve been hearing it often enough on the TV machine, though. For the sake of my article I’m gonna run with it.) Somewhere around 25% of Americans are Catholic so let’s say that 10% of Americans are Catholic women (rounding down for the sake of an easier number than 12.5%). Guess what that means? Catholic women use contraception. That’s how people live their lives in reality.
In my mind, this debate is somewhat akin to homosexuality in the church.
Stop scratching your head for just a minute and hear me out.
When I was at Calvin College, a religious school in Grand Rapids, MI, a fair few people suggested that I find another school to attend because I’m gay and didn’t like (and still don’t like) the school’s policies on homosexuality. But the fact is that transgender, lesbian, bi, gay, and queer people are born into religious families every single day across America and some of them want to retain these religious convictions beyond their youth. Naturally, there are going to be queer people at any institution of higher learning because, for many of us, religion is still as important to our identity as anything else and we refuse to jump ship just because of our sexual orientation or gender identity.
I think that there’s something of a parallel with the Catholic Church, women and contraception. I know it’s not a perfect parallel, but the general idea is the same: On the one hand, there is a long standing precept that the church has been promulgating (no contraception, no queers) and on the other hand is the real world where most women would like to be able to have sex without worrying about popping a baby out and queer folks actually do exist. Also, have you noticed it’s men telling women that they can’t use contraception just like it’s heterosexuals telling homosexuals not to get married or have otherwise meaningful, healthy relationships? Funny how easy it is to interpret God’s will when it doesn’t affect you.
My point is basically this: While people have been arguing against Catholic hospitals, etc. having to offer contraception free of charge (if you want to get contraception from your insurance provider, work somewhere else! if you’re gay, go to school somewhere else!), I’m guessing that there are probably a number of women working for these institutions who would gladly accept the coverage – and probably a fair number of men who would also profit vicariously.
Struggling to understand why this is even an issue in the first place.