Catholic hospitals object to covering birth control

contraception

Photo by outcast104 / Flickr

By Cosette Paneque
Aug. 8, 2011

Catholic hospitals are opposing a new provision in President Barrack Obama’s recent health care overhaul, which expands benefits for women including free birth control to their employees.

The Health and Human Services Department has proposed a conscience clause, but Michael Sheedy, a spokesperson for the Florida Catholic Conference, told the Florida Independent that the clause is too narrow.

The Washington Post explains, “The administration’s proposed exemption defines a religious employer as one whose purpose is to instill religious values, which primarily employs and serves people who share its religious tenets, and which is nonprofit.”

Catholic hospitals could be ineligible and thus required to offer services they find religiously objectionable. Sheedy says the decision “violates the conscience”.

There are about 600 Catholic health care institutions in the United States.

What do you think? Should Catholic hospitals be forced to provide health care they spiritually object to? Are conscience clauses a good compromise or are they used to deny people services as some reproductive justice groups assert?

3 comments

  1. Brandi says:

    Do they hire non-Catholic employees or are they a religious organization that is permitted to discriminate in its hiring practices on the basis of religion? If the former, then they should be completely subject to governmental regulations. If the latter, then they should simply hire only good Catholic women who wouldn’t, in a million years, use such a benefit, making its provision simply a formality. But if they intend not to provide a federally mandated benefit to all employees, then they, quite simply, shouldn’t take any federal funding, like, say, accepting Medicaid or Medicare funded patients or any federal research grants. If they’re not taking the government’s money, then they can be as religious as they want to be, but if they’re receiving even just one cent of federal money, then they should be subject to federal regulation.

  2. Catholic health care institutes generally have an open hiring policy and don’t discriminate on the basis of religion. Patients may also be of any faith or none at all. It’s that openness that might require Catholic hospitals to provide birth control to its employees. The exemption defines “a religious employer as one whose purpose is to instill religious values, which primarily employs and serves people who share its religious tenets, and which is nonprofit.”

    Thank you for your comments, Brandi.

  3. Connie Gilbert says:

    Even if the Catholic hospitals only hired Catholics they should be required to provide birth control, but if the employees don’t want the birth control they certainly don’t have to use it. Realistically, I don’t personally know of any Catholics in the US that don’t use birth control.

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