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Catholics, contraceptives and insurance coverage

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Catholic bishops are lobbying the Obama administration to change some parts of new federal health care regulations that require employers to offer prescription birth control as part of their insurance plans.

Catholic dogma prohibits premarital sex, and the bishops argue that requiring Catholic universities and hospitals to provide birth control coverage is anathema to Catholic teaching. Despite the bishops’ qualms, many Catholic health care organizations are already providing access to birth control. The Catholic Healthcare West System, for example, has been providing contraceptive coverage since 1997, and studies have shown that a significant majority of Catholic women in the U.S. use some kind of artificial birth control. Sarah Lipton-Lubet of the ACLU said, “What the bishops and their allies are asking for is the ability to impose their religious beliefs on people who don’t share them.”


Which precept should take precedence, federal law or Catholic doctrine? Can the execution of religious beliefs be discrimination?


Father Thomas Rausch, Marie Chilton professor, Catholic theology, Loyola Marymount University

Sarah Lipton-Lubet, legislative policy counsel, ACLU