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National Secular Society

Challenging Religious Privilege

Catholic organisations want to discriminate against women (again)

Catholic organisations in America are protesting against their female employees being allowed free sterilization procedures and prescription contraceptives including emergency contraception (morning after pill) as part of the new Affordable Care Act.

The regulations cover students, employee and group health plans and health insurance issuers. They apply to hundreds of Catholic institutions, for example elementary and secondary schools, universities, hospitals, social service organizations and charities.

John Garvey, President of the Catholic University of America claimed that certain reproductive health services are sinful and that the Government was violating religious liberty. However, there is nothing in the regulations that requires anybody to provide services. They require employers to offer coverage, which women can then decide to take up or not.

As Jon O’Brien, president of Catholics for Choice, points out, Garvey’s interpretation is at odds with that of at least a dozen of the nation’s leading theologians who say that the mandate for contraceptive coverage under the Affordable Care Act didn’t go far enough. He also points out that 98% of sexually active Catholic women have used a form of modern contraception and that in 1968 a majority of the then pope’s hand-picked advisors agreed that there was no moral, theological or pastoral reason to ban Catholics from using contraception.

O’Brien said “Allowing religious employers to interfere in women’s capacity for moral decision-making is an affront to conscience and an assault on religious freedom.”

Published Fri, 14 Oct 2011