In the Wall Street Journal , Patrick J. Reilly reports that the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has ruled that Catholic institutions must pay for birth control in their health insurance plans:
Last week, thanks to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the federal government took a giant leap toward encroaching on the religious liberty of Catholics. Reuben Daniels Jr., director of the EEOC District Office in Charlotte, N.C, ruled that a small Catholic college discriminated against female employees by refusing to cover prescription contraceptives in its health insurance plan. With health-care reform looming before the country, this ruling is a bad omen for people of faith.
In 2007, eight faculty members filed a complaint against Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., claiming that the schools decision to exclude prescription contraceptives from its health-care plan was discriminatory against women. As a Roman Catholic institution, Belmont Abbey College is not able to and will not offer nor subsidize medical services that contradict the clear teaching of the Catholic Church, said the colleges president, William Thierfelder, at the time.
[ . . . ]
The ruling against the college is certainly consistent with the commissions published guidance on pregnancy discrimination. The EEOC has found that contraceptive coverage is mandated by the 1978 Pregnancy Discrimination Act (even though the law concerns pregnant women and does not, by strict interpretation, consider discrimination against all women of childbearing potential). North Carolina also has made its position clear with a law requiring employers to cover employees contraceptive expenses if other prescription drugs are insured.
The difference, however, between the EEOCs guidance and the North Carolina law is that the latter exempts religious employers such as a Catholic college, whereas the commission fails to consider that the tenets of a faith may preclude an institution from offering such benefits.
And thats the rub: Increasingly it is clear to Catholics and other religious groups that without very clear exemptions for religious employersand conscience protections for individual doctors, nurses, pharmacistsfederal health-care laws and guidelines could severely restrict religious freedom in the U.S . . . .,
Perhaps there are those who would say that this is an issue for only a minority of religious people. Catholics are nearly alone in their objection to contraceptivesand many Catholics regularly violate the churchs teaching on the issue. But consider abortion. The EEOC says that pregnancy discrimination does not apply to an employers refusal to cover abortion expenses, except where the life of the mother is endangered. When will a federal court argue that if insurance coverage to prevent pregnancy is, by inference, mandated by the Pregnancy Discrimination Act, then why not abortion to end a pregnancy?
(Via: Gene Veith )