Immaculate contraception

On the list of organizations most intractable when it comes to compromise, the Catholic Church must rank near the top.

Earlier this month, President Obamas administration did something it didnt have to broaden exemptions for religious organizations mandated to provide free birth control to employees.

The administration even transferred the cost of birth control coverage to insurance providers, rather than the organizations themselves, in response to strong moral objections to birth control from among others the Catholic Church.

Despite these accommodations, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops is using the inch to kick and scream in hope of gaining the mile.

In a New York Times article published Feb. 7, Cardinal Timothy M. Dolan, president of the conference, denounced the compromise by saying it appears to offer second-class status to the religiously affiliated organizations that fall just outside those exempted from the federal mandate.

Well, I would say the argument over who is exempt from providing birth control and why has relegated the health needs of women to second-class status.

Instead of discussing the health benefits of oral contraceptives which includes lowering the risk of contracting ovarian cancer along with slashing the number of unintended pregnancies the nation is stuck watching the administration perform back-bends to appease an archaic vision of morality and the political force this vision wields.

It is important to remember that the organizations Cardinal Dolan is speaking of when criticizing this policy include religiously affiliated universities and hospitals, whose employees often adhere to an array of differing religious and moral creeds.

These employees should not be denied free preventative care because they dont share the same beliefs as their employer.

They should not be asked to search for a job based on which laws the employers have cherry-picked.

The law does not mandate that all women use birth control.

It has simply identified birth control as a hugely important part of preventative health care.

Employees are obviously still free to use, or not use, birth control at their own discretion.

And the accommodations have removed the responsibility for footing the bill from a number of religiously affiliated organizations, allowing them to retain their moral virtue.

The debate is a distraction. A large, powerful group has decided to make an ideological debate out of a public health issue, succeeding in gaining undeserved special treatment.

To grant even greater privileges, and to continue to compromise with such hard-headed beliefs, would only further remove the spotlight from the huge public health success of Obamacare.