One would imagine that this would not be a problem with Catholics in the US at all - everyone knows that all but a couple of percent of them have ignored the Church's teaching on contraception for the last 40 years. And one of the first commentaries I read on it, a post on a Commonweal blog, strongly supported the decision, emphasising the fact that non Catholic employees of Catholic hospitals should not be limited in their health insurance by what their "boss" considers unethical. It also makes the obvious point that for Catholics themselves, the coverage doesn't mean they are forced to use it. The Bishops of America, with good reason I suppose, have no faith that the laity will follow their teaching.
Yet, since then, what seems remarkable is the number of liberal Catholics commentators who have come out against the decision on the grounds that it is the State forcing the Church to act against its "conscience". It's an interference with religious freedom, according to this view.
First Things notes this with pleasure, and I have to say that I was very surprised to see The Tablet also come out against it.
Look, I see the Church being worried about having to provided certain forms of contraception, such as IUDs which (as far as I know) work by interfering after fertilization. Was it possible for the ruling to have allowed the Catholic institutions to not provide cover for certain kinds of contraception only? The problem is, I guess, when your theology is such that there is debate over whether a pinprick in a condom can make its use "legitimate" in certain settings, you can't expect a lot of compromise over a teaching which has such arcane and counter-intuitive results.
Yet, hang on a minute, is this true (from a comment to a New York opinion piece):
I think it's relevant that it is _already_ required in New York (and several other states) that health insurance coverage include contraceptives (with the same limited church exception provided by the Obama administration), and of course Catholic institutions comply. In particular, the hyperbolic objections of Archbishop Dolan of New York to the Obama administration ruling seem particularly inappropriate, since it appears that institutions under his oversight are already in compliance.I'm not sure that this is right, given the explanation given in a Washington Post column explaining the sort of compromises the States have come up with:
Under Hawaii law, religious employers that decline to cover contraceptives must provide written notification to enrollees disclosing that fact and describing alternate ways for enrollees to access coverage for contraceptive services. Hawaii law also requires health insurers to allow enrollees in a health plan of an objecting religious employer to purchase coverage of contraceptive services directly and to do so at a cost that does not exceed “the enrollee’s pro rata share of the price the group purchaser would have paid for such coverage had the group plan not invoked a religious exemption.” A New York law has similar provisions.Talk about your fine lines. The Church doesn't have to directly provide the contraceptive cover, but has an obligation to tell the employee how to get it at the same cost that the Church could have provided under their policy (if I am reading that right.)
Isn't this the same as (for example) a law requiring Catholic hospitals that will not provide abortion to refer pregnant women to where they can get it done? (Speaking of which, what happened about the Victorian law in 2008 which did require exactly that? The Archbishop said Catholic hospitals would not obey it, so what has been the outcome?)
Anyway, this is all part and parcel of the extremely complicated situation with health care funding and insurance in the US. Isn't there a way of separating the health insurance from the employment benefits, and Catholic hospitals can just compensate employees for whatever health insurance package they want?
The Australian system has much to recommend it.