Remember Pope Francis said some pretty stuff about how Catholic authorities need to be less obsessed with their attempts to control human sexuality and more interested in helping the poor, and how a bunch of liberals who are grading the pope on a massive curve got excited? Remember how meanie atheists said that it doesn’t matter and we can tell you right now that nothing will change? Well, I do like saying “I told you so,” so let me tell it to you again.
Think Progress reported yesterday that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops sent a letter urging House Republicans to shut down the government rather than let women use their earned insurance benefits to buy contraception without their employers’ permission. So important is it for the Catholic bishops that your employer get veto power over how you spend compensation you paid for with your labor that they are now openly ranking it over….feeding babies.
Yes, that’s right. The government shutdown means that WIC is going to run out of money to feed infants. (At first, it was assumed they would only have enough to last a day, but they’re funded through the rest of the month, something the bishops could not have known when they sent the letter.) More than half of babies born in the U.S. get some of their nutrition through WIC. That said, I’m guessing closer to 100% of the babies born to women whose employer cutting off their earned insurance benefits makes the difference between having contraception and not having it will probably have to use WIC. The Catholic bishops are therefore officially on the record believing that it’s more important for your boss to try to force you into pregnancy by withholding your compensation you’d use for contraception than it is for any babies produced to be fed. Indeed, the letter was very specific about this, stating that the right of non-human entities like businesses to withhold earned contraception benefits from employees should not be abandoned “in order to continue serving their own employees or the neediest Americans”. Your boss getting veto power over how you use your own insurance benefits > needy Americans, including babies.
Grim, but unsurprising. The United Conference of Catholic Bishops may hold itself up as a holistic organization, but in reality, they more closely resemble an organization with a single-minded loathing of women who have non-procreative sex. If Pope Francis was serious about reorganizing the church’s priorities, he needs to discipline the Conference straightaway for openly ranking forced childbirth as a more important priority than feeding babies. Here’s where I feel the odds of that happening stand: