Catholic bishops lie about birth control

The US Conference of Catholic bishops has released a statement clarifying their opposition to the Obama administration’s contraception coverage policy (see Huffpost for details). In it, they say that the church’s position is not about “access to contraception”, but rather about religious liberty and the rights of private employers. The church’s position isn’t about access to contraception, they claim, because contraception is “ubiquitous and inexpensive”.

Except it isn’t. In many places it is increasingly hard to come by, thanks to opposition like this. And for many women it is prohibitively expensive if not covered by insurance.

Thou shalt not bear false testimony, Messers. Bishop.

10 thoughts on “Catholic bishops lie about birth control

  1. Is Viagra covered for men and if so, must a marriage certificate be presented and must their wives sign an affidavit that their husbands had sex with them for each pill perscribed? If we’re going to provide health care based on the employers moral beliefs, then the church shouldn’t be able to pick and choose which of their moral beliefs to follow.

    Is the Christian Science Monitor required to provide healthcare coverage for its employees or can they opt out and just send someone to pray for the afflicted employee?

  2. Merry, I think the men should also have to show that their wives are not using birth control, since sex that is artificially prevented from ending in conception is wrong.

  3. You’re right Anne, and at this point, it may just be more expedient to have the Catholic Bishop present at every encounter to make sure it’s on the up and up and bless the union while he’s at it. It’s not unprecedented, as I believe that European royalty were required to consummate their unions under such circumstances.

  4. One problem that American Catholic bishops face is that a vast majority of practicing Catholics oppose the church’s stance on birth control. Indeed, almost all (and the empirical research suggests we’re talking about 95-98% here) Catholic women have used some form of prohibited birth control. I can’t say off the top of my head whether this is merely an American problem or a world problem more generally.

    My guess is that this “clarification” of the debate is one way they’re trying to save face with ordinary Catholics. I think ordinary Catholics in America are starting to resent the role the bishops are playing in this debate, whereas they’re much more tolerant of disagreement on other issues.

  5. Could you please cite your statement that “[birth control] is increasingly hard to come by” & “prohibitively expensive”. Last I checked condoms (as well as other forms) are cheap and easily accessible at you closest drug store. Wouldn’t a better solution be to make other forms of birth control just as easy to get? For example, making the pill an over-the-counter medicine?

  6. cl, the information in this article will give you a start:

    Condoms are certainly one of the cheaper forms of birth control, but the expense adds up over months and years. More importantly, though, not all women can use condoms, and not all women who can use condoms want to use them – not the least because they are not as reliable as other, more expensive, methods of birth control.

    It’s unlikely that contraceptive pills will be made available over-the-counter – they’ve got too many surprising contraindictions and potentially complicating side-effects. And *which* of the many available forms of “the pill” a women should take is a complex matter that needs to be decided in consultation with a medical professional.

    Contraception is part of basic health care. Women deserve access to affordable basic health care, the opinions of a bunch of middle aged celibate men notwithstanding.

  7. It seems to me that to accuse the bishops of lying here is to assert not only is there no reasonable interpretation of “contraceptives are ubiquitous and inexpensive” that is true, but also that the bishops believe it is untrue. The first proposition strikes me as being at least moderately challenging to establish, and the second as being extremely challenging. But there is another arguable inaccuracy in the OP; in my view it implies that if contraceptives are not ubiquitous and expensive, then the bishop’s position must ipso facto be about contracepive access and not about First Amendment liberties. That’s not the case.

  8. Cl, I hope you are aware that a woman’s reproductive and hormonal system is rather complicated and each woman’s is unique. One method and one pill does not fit all. It is very important that a woman talk to a health care professional about all options available and that it also part of the cost. And what is inexpensive to you, might be a significant percentage of someone else’s income.

    And I find it rather hypocritical that certain parties want to defund Planned Parenthood on the one hand, but then cite Planned Parenthood as a place for women to go for cheap contraception so it doesn’t need to be covered under a health plan.

    But once again, I have to ask, if this is about religious concerns, why is it only about women’s reproductive systems? Some of the bishops are looking less then svelte. I bet some are pre diabetic or have been prescribed cholesterol medication. Gluttony is one of the seven deadly sins, and diet books and running shoes are cheap and ubiquitous, not to mention the money saved by not eating quite so much. Why should lipitor and insulin be covered when all they have to do is get control of their diet?

    And this isn’t just about Catholics either. Jehovah’s Witnesses believe blood transfusions are equivalent to ingesting blood and are therefore a sin. So if I have leukemia and work for a Jehovah’s Witnesses, can I be denied a life saving blood transfusion? I’m just saying, this run around that it’s not “really” about contraception put us on a pretty slippery slope.

  9. magicalersatz, thank you for the link but I’m still skeptical. While the cost of OTC birth control is not free, neither is insurance provided birth control. The money comes from somewhere. Insurance premiums may be less visible costs but they are real. Co-pays and doctor’s appointments are also costly. Condoms are not the only cheap and accessible form of birth control. There are spermacides, diaphragms, sponges and cervical caps and more. Also, it’s not clear that the slight decrease in cost actually prevents that many more pregnancies. This study suggests that the margin we’re working with is smaller than we might assume (I was certainly surprised by the finding!):

    While this is not a perfect paper (it would be nice if we had a similar example that wasn’t college students!), if you know of any better studies, please let me know.

    What is clear is that this would force individuals to pay for and provide things that they are morally opposed to. Employers, employees, and patrons shouldn’t be forced by the government to commit acts that violate their conscience, be they bishops or planned parenthood doctors. I do not agree with the Catholic Church’s stance on birth control but I respect Catholic individuals’ right to live their faith without interference, especially when the potential harm can be cheaply and easily mitigated by the women affected by it.

    As to the possibility of providing birth control OTC, I’d suggest this article:

    If we’re going to be politically active about helping poor women get cheap and easy access to birth control, promoting OTC accessibility seems the better cause to me.

  10. Great post. I don’t know when, or with that, IF these priets can ever stop lying. It’s as if their very belief is leading them into a life of lies..

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