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For the last few weeks we have been following the developing row between the Obama Administration and Catholic bishops there over Administration proposals to force Catholic and other religious organisations to extend their insurance cover to contraception, the Morning-After-Pill (an abortifacient) and sterilisation.
This is a very big religious freedom issue and even liberal Catholics opposed to their Church’s teaching on contraception are angry at Obama over it.
Many US bishops have had homilies read out at Masses all over America expressing their opposition to what is being proposed. A Rasmussen poll shows that 50pc of Americans oppose what Obama is proposing and 39pc support it.
But the Obama proposal appears to be a much bigger intensity issue for opponents of the measure than supporters to judge from relative levels of noise they are generating.
Supporters of the measure claim they are trying to protect women’s rights and this is more important than Catholic sensitivities over the contraception
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand put it as follows a couple of days ago: “The power to decide whether or not to use contraception lies with a woman – not her boss. What is more intrusive than trying to allow an employer to make medical decisions for someone who works for them?”
And of course Gillibrand is right. The power to decide whether or not to use contraception does rest with the woman rather than her boss.
But that is not the issue. The issue is, who pays for the contraceptives, the woman or her boss? The woman can do whatever she likes with her money within the law, but her boss, or rather the organisation she works for, should not be forced to pay for something on her behalf with its money when to do so would be against its ethos.
This could hardly be more obvious. What the Obama Administration is doing here is forcing its own moral view of the issue upon the Church. In other words, it is violating Church/State separation.
(It's worth reminding readers that even the normally reliably pro-Obama Washington Post opposes his stance on this issue. Here's their editorial explaining their opposition. In addition, here is an article locating the insurance/contraception controversy in a wider attempt by the State to co-op NGOs generally to its agenda on a host of issues and restrict their ability to have a truly independent ethos).