Catholic universities have got their rosaries in a bunch over a provision in the Affordable Care Act that would require them to do something that makes the baby Jesus cry- outfit their students and employees with insurance plans that would cover hormonal birth control.
The Affordable Care Act — or, if you're a Tea Party member, the Satan Socialism Death Panel Kenyan Nazi Worst Thing Ever Abomination — requires that insurance plans provide 100% coverage for procedures that qualify as preventative care. This means individuals paying anything out of pocket for colonoscopies, annual pap smears, and general physicals will soon be a thing of the past. According to guidelines approved by the US Department of Health and Human Services in August, hormonal birth control also qualifies as preventative care and thus, as of plan years that start after August of next year, insurance must cover the entire cost of your monthly Whore Pills.
Some religious organizations that provide insurance to their employees will be exempt from the requirement, but the religious exemption allowed by the provision doesn't extend to religious universities. This means that Catholic schools that until now did not distribute birth control from their health services center may soon be forced by the government to cease being hotbeds of secret off campus abortions and start paying for hormonal birth control. And this makes university officials' anger multiply like so many loaves and fishes of rage.
The problem is that the Catholic Church has been against artificial forms of birth control since centuries before America was just a rapeable glint in Christopher Columbus's eye, and they're not happy about being forced to go against their religious beliefs. And now the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops and the Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education have gotten involved, launching a letter writing campaign requesting that the HHS expand the religious exemption in the Affordable Care Act to include Catholic charities, hospitals, and universities.
Catholic University of America's The Tower quotes Stephen Schneck, Director of the Institute for Policy Research & Catholic Studies,
The current fight is to expand the definition of religious organization so that places like Catholic University will not have to provide contraception and so on in [their] health care plans to employees and students. The issue here is not about contraception, but about conscience
Ah, yes. The ol' Conscience Clause defense. "Conscience," for those not fluent in Bullshitese, is code for "God says I don't have to and I know what God thinks more than you do so there." It's been invoked in everything from this pharmacist who refused to dispense an anti-bleeding drug to a woman who had an abortion to this doctor who wouldn't prescribe birth control to an unmarried woman because she doesn't want to subject the woman to "the trauma from multiple [sexual] partners" Funny how conscience clauses only seem to affect women who are sexually active, and not the Viagra prescriptions of old dudes who are so far past their prime that it is offensive to the religious beliefs of the pharmacist to know that they're subjecting someone, somewhere, to their penis.
Still, it's not the individual University Presidents' collective fault that The Church says birth control's a no-go. Fr. John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame, says,
It would compel Notre Dame to either pay for contraception and sterilization in violation of the Church's moral teaching, or to discontinue our employee and student health care plans in violation of the church's social teaching.
So far, God hasn't returned multiple calls for comment.
University May Be Forced To Offer Birth Control [The Tower]
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