In my Huffington Post pieces, I rarely step outside of marketing. As a 25-year industry veteran, I spend my time considering the need for political advertising reform, truth in marketing, and a host of other business topics. However, I will afford myself some latitude today as I consider the political spin that's making headlines around the country.
American bishops are taking the Obama Administration and the Department of Health and Human Services to the woodshed over affording employees at Catholic venues such as Universities and Hospitals access to birth control as part of their health plans. As a Catholic, a female and one who intimately understands how spin works, rallies, promotes and can often mislead, I can't sit this dance out.
Much like the Komen/Planned Parenthood debacle, the move from U.S. Bishops to protest including contraception coverage for employees reeks more of politics and power than it does of God's calling. The bishops claim government interference when, honestly, it is the Church attempting to limit female employee's access to affordable contraception. The compromise, having the health insurance companies pay for the contraceptives instead of the Catholic groups, is laughable. In several states, Catholic institutions have been mandated by states to provide the access to contraception for years, without any backlash. So why are things different now?
Religious institutions such as churches where most employees share the same faith, according to the ruling by the Department of Health and Human Services, are exempt from providing contraception options as part of health coverage. But if you're a Muslim or a Hindu, atheist or a Catholic (practicing or lapsed) who doesn't feel like getting pregnant while you're working at St. Francis hospital, the government believes you have the right to receive a health plan that includes contraceptives.
Like many of my pew pals, I learned a few lessons as an every Sunday practicing Catholic. In this circumstance, maybe it's best to put the argument in a way that the Bishops might understand. Free will. In the Catholic faith, we're taught that humans are given free will on purpose by God. What we do with that choice is up to us. God didn't send a Catholic bishop into the Garden of Eden to pull the plug on the Adam apple incident. Instead, He let the world's first unmarried couple figure it out themselves. There is nowhere in the Bible I've read more than a few times that says the Church or anyone else is called by God to control the lives of others. In fact, Jesus warns against trying to solve the sins we judge to exist in others instead of solving our own. Oh, and He has that whole thing about judgment in general too, but I digress.
Susan G. Komen, the belle of the charity ball only days ago, is on life support. And the reason why had absolutely nothing to do with breast cancer. People at Komen and the pro-life groups that pressured them wanted to harm another women's health group because of services it provides outside of the breast cancer services Komen funded. Komen and others wanted to keep women from abortion and contraception by stopping funding of breast cancer services at Planned Parenthood. The rationale was illogical at best. And, as a tragic result, Komen will be in no shape to continue funding breast cancer research, screenings and other services in the future.
For many Christian groups, including the Catholic Church, there has been a fervent and ongoing attempt to use the government to take free will away from women. The fact that this is probably not what God had intended seems to be a moot point. Imagine if churches and organizations could take every choice that they perceive to be sinful, away from everyone? I can't really see why we'd need Earth in the first place. If there were no opportunity for choice, than wouldn't our time on terra firma be pointless?
Freedom is one of (if not the most important) tenants that the United States was founded upon. We left the Brits, in large part, because we didn't want them to tell us how to follow our religion. Now, the Catholic bishops want to tell the Hindu nurse busy saving lives at Mercy General that she needs to pay for birth control out of her own pocket because they don't like contraception. Huh?
This is not a religious debate, no matter how much we'd like it to be. It is a debate about boundaries, rights, and free human will and a group's compulsion to lord over another's choices.
If Catholic bishops can't convince their flocks to abstain from birth control it's their failure, and certainly not the job of our government.
Follow Sarah O'Leary on Twitter: www.twitter.com/SarahOLearyHC