The bishops yesterday orchestrated a slew of lawsuits to attack an Obama administration regulation requiring health insurance companies to provide no-copay birth control to employees who want it.
Houses of worship are exempt from the mandate, but the bishops are trying to deny birth control coverage for employees at Catholic-affiliated institutions such as hospitals and colleges as well. They even want an exemption to cover secular businesses owned by Catholics.
“It’s important to expose these lawsuits for what they are: an outrageous assault on safe, effective and affordable birth control,” said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United. “To the bishops, ‘religious freedom’ means the right to force their dogma on the unwilling.”
Lynn pointed out that Catholic colleges, hospitals and social-service agencies receive massive amounts of taxpayer support. They serve and hire many non-Catholics. The bishops, said Lynn, should not be permitted to use taxpayer-supported, quasi-public institutions as vehicles to impose their doctrines on birth control.
The vast majority of American Catholics, Lynn noted, consider the bishops’ stand on contraceptives to be outdated and unrealistic, and they ignore it.
“The bishops haven’t been able to persuade their own flock to listen to them on birth control, so now they are attempting to use lawsuits to achieve the control they yearn for,” Lynn said. “The courts should reject this clerical power grab.”