When officials of the Catholic Church resort to claims of conscience, they are not referring to the conscience of the women who seek insurance coverage for birth control; they are referring to their own stricken conscience.
No matter what you think of the administration's decision on birth control, I think we can all agree that it was handled extremely badly from the get-go. This is not the way to roll out a contentious policy, guys and gals.
In my 15th year of Catholic education, I am very familiar with the Catholic Church's opposition to birth control despite the fact that 98 percent of Catholic women have used contraception. This underscores the huge gap between the views of the Church and practicing Catholics.
Santorum represents a strain in American politics that believes preventing unintended and unwanted pregnancies is both a moral wrong and a social ill: women who engage in sexual intercourse -- voluntarily or not -- should have children by chance, not by choice.
Bishops have urged Catholics to be single issue voters -- that issue being of course the sexual politics of an anti-abortion and anti-gay rights agenda. The century-old Catholic social justice tradition in America has been pushed to the side.
This is about the notion that some religiously affiliated hospitals and schools receive federal money and therefore cannot deny a woman a federal guarantee. This is real 'class warfare' and this time the victims are the most vulnerable -- women from lower-income neighborhoods.
Members of Congress love to talk about their families. So we should be able to tell whether or not members who say they don't believe that contraception is an essential aspect of health care, especially for women, are likely users of contraception.
If a religious organization abjures condoms or The Pill or blood transfusions, that's their right. It should not be their management's right, even if the managers wear vestments, to impose those religions strictures on the bodies of their workers.
For full disclosure, I am a Catholic, I am a Democrat and I am a woman. I am also someone who if push came to shove can afford to pay over the counter for birth control. But the false outcry this week over the need to cover birth control has made me raving mad.
No matter how the administration explains the decision, most Catholics see the proposal as forcing institutions run by the Catholic Church to violate the churches' own moral teachings. And, while well intentioned, this does not make sense and it is not smart politics.