1.) Though birth control is a critical health benefit, this doesn’t mean every employer must offer insurance that covers it. Employers should do so voluntarily, and it’s a shame if they don’t, but because contraception violates the core of many religions, we must tread lightly here. As EJ Dionne in WaPo argues:
Speaking as a Catholic, I wish the Church would be more open on the contraception question. But speaking as an American liberal who believes that religious pluralism imposes certain obligations on government, I think the Church’s leaders had a right to ask for broader relief from a contraception mandate that would require it to act against its own teachings.
2.) 98% of Catholic couples use some form of artificial birth control, but that doesn’t mean that the 2-3% of those who don’t are irrelevant or — this is important — are the only dissenters. As Ross Douthat points out, there are many Catholics who happily use birth control but who have no interest in the government undermining the Church’s values here. And, there are many cases in which public health and welfare are so endangered that the government has an obligation to mandate this or that, despite compelling religious liberty issues. This is not one of those cases.
The argument that the state’s interests can trump religious liberties so long as the group of people being asked to violate their consciences is small enough is not an argument at all. It’s just a raw appeal to power.
(Being the charitable person I am, I think it’s just a dumb mistake that will likely be softened in the next few days)
3.) Finally, and most importantly, this is exactly why employers should have zero to do with health insurance. The fact that they are at the center of our delivery system is absurd and more of an historical accident than anything else and leads to a completely dysfunctional labor and health care market.
4.) And, if you’re interested in someone’s else’s “interesting” perspective on the issue (save for confirming point #3), read this article by John Cochrane. As they say in Twitter land, retweets do not equal endorsements.