In a surprising move over the weekend, thousands of Catholic parishioners were read letters that condemn the Obama administration and its recent decision to make birth control available to women through virtually all private health insurance plans.
The letters were written by Catholic Bishops in the U.S. and read aloud at hundreds of Catholic churches on Sunday. In one of the letters (PDF), written by a Catholic Bishop in Phoenix, Ariz., the church attacks the Obama administration for having “cast aside the First Amendment to the Constitution of the United States, denying to Catholics our Nation’s first and most fundamental freedom, that of religious liberty.”
But far from taking away their religious liberty or any of their “God given rights,” the Obama administration’s decision to make private insurers cover birth control will ensure that the church cannot deny these services to their employees if they choose to utilize them.
“We cannot — we will not — comply with this unjust law,” Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted wrote in just one of the numerous letters. “People of faith cannot be made second class citizens. We are already joined by our brothers and sisters of all faiths and many others of good will in this important effort to regain our religious freedom. Our parents and grandparents did not come to these shores to help build America’s cities and towns, its infrastructure and institutions, its enterprise and culture, only to have their posterity stripped of their God given rights.”
The church added that Catholics should pray to ask the virgin Mary to intercede for the nation, and that parishioners look up the National Committee for a Human Life Amendment, a Catholic anti-abortion group.
The only exception to the rule that would allow an employer to deny access to birth control is if the employer is a religious non-profit that hires exclusively within their faith. All other organizations, including non-profits run by religious groups that hire based upon non-discrimination policies, must enact the new rule by August 1, 2013.
While the decision was indeed a victory for pro-choice activists, the Obama administration in December shot down a proposed rule that would have made the morning-after pill available over the counter and without an age restriction, even though the pills are less toxic than the common painkiller Tylenol. Over the counter sales of Plan B had previously been approved by the Food and Drug Administration.
Photo: Flickr user gnuckx.