Monday, January 30, 2012

Requiring Catholic Universities to Pay for Birth Control

Ross Douthat, who often makes sense except when anything to do with religion is on the agenda, wrote a long lamentation in the Times to the effect that requiring institutions run by churches, but not fundamentally religious -- e.g., Catholic hospitals and Baptist universities -- to pay for birth control is
an intimation of a darker American future, in which our voluntary communities wither away and government becomes the only word we have for the things we do together. 
This is what you might call a slippery slope leading to a cliff leading to an abyss sort of argument. A tad overblown, shall we say? But I don't think churches are being crazy to protest the birth control rule. Problems like this are one of the reasons I think we should have government-run healthcare instead of a mandated private scheme like the Affordable Care Act. We should not rely on private entities to guarantee what we have decided is a right of all the citizens.

But since we have decided to provide health insurance through employer-subsidized private plans, those plans have to provide public rights as the public -- through the government -- defines them. Since we are trying to make health insurance a right for everyone, employees shouldn't lose that right when they choose to work for a Catholic University instead of a public one.

I think that in general the civil rights of employees always trump the civil rights of employers. Nobody should lose a right because the only job he or she can get is at a Baptist college.

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