It’s a curious question, the health care issue with regard to the Catholic Church’s position on birth control. How far can or should the state go in health care issues and what Church-provided health insurance should pay for.
What exists is the tug-of-war between the wall of separation of church and state, and what is in the best interests of the public.
It is amusing to me for this issue to come up, because the religious right generally asserts that the wall does not exist and it is a myth. The general argument is that because it is non-existent, then nativity scenes are allowable on government property and that prayer is an appropriate part of any public-school event and that the separation argument is raised only by God-less liberals to attack Christianity. Now that it is convenient to them, the wall exists and should protect the church from wrongful government intrusion.
It either exists or it doesn’t. I believe it does, which is why the Catholic Church birth control issue is particularly troubling.
This will be impossible to decide when considering birth control and morning-after pills because these issues are so emotionally charged as to destroy any middle ground.
It is easier to discuss when dealing with Measles, and Whooping Cough. Some may say that this parallel is fallacious and agree that vaccinations preventing whooping cough are proper to allow the government to require. But it is proper, because it deals directly with the issue of the role of government in private business and religious institutions, how far can they or should they intrude into our private lives and personal decisions.
Public schools require vaccination against these diseases. Some on the religious right say that requiring these vaccinations violates their freedom of religion and refuse to have their children so vaccinated. Predictably, these diseases are making a comeback. Should the general welfare of all children be compromised for this religious stance or does the general welfare of the public take precedence?
Catholic hospitals generally will not permit abortions to be performed in them. They also have difficulties in “pulling the plug” unless there is very clear, precise and written documentation of the patient’s wishes.
Also, when children are put at risk by parental actions (such as not allowing life-saving surgeries), the state does get involved for the benefit of the child.
This issue is odder than most because while the official position of the Catholic Church is to oppose birth control, the vast majority of Catholic women—approaching 99%—use or have used birth control.
Also, health insurance costs more if birth control is not covered. This is clearly obvious: women without birth control incur significantly more cost than women with access to birth control. I wonder if the Santorums ever used birth control pills or Trojans or anything else to thwart the will of God in the procreative act.
If this is decided in favor of the Catholic Church, then other denominations will step up. There already is an issue of pharmacists not filling legally written prescriptions for the “morning after” pill. If the majority of workers at a plant in, say, Rooster-Poot, Arkansas oppose the same things or others (like vaccinations), then they too would have the right to have their insurance not cover such things.
The government does have a role to play. It exists to protect minorities suffering for their oddities at the hands of the majority, things like ending segregation, with which we all now agree, but a short a time ago s 1968. When Wallace ran for President, a lot of the country still believed in it. It also exists to keep the rest of us safe from the acts of even a religiously-oriented minority when they present a threat, be it a religious militia when they get too aggressive or from actions which will enable whooping cough to re-establish itself.
Ultimately, it is one of those issues that need to be decided by those in black robes because in this case, it involves tow constitutional questions and that is how we settle such issues.