The contraception mandate, migrant workers, the new missal

All Talk

Margaret O’Brien Steinfels’s critique of the U.S. Catholic bishops’ refusal to accept the various forms of accommodation in the Department of Health and Human Services contraception-coverage mandate ignores a key point (“A Losing Strategy,” May 4). The incredibly narrow definition of a “religious employer,” which Steinfels herself criticizes, remains exactly as it always has been. What the Obama administration now suggests in its most recent proposed rule is that those institutions—other than houses of worship—that have a religious objection will be allowed to talk as though they are a religious employer, yet through their health plans they will have to act exactly like an atheist organization. Every employee of such organizations will automatically have to accept coverage for contraception, sterilization, and abortifacient drugs—and they must allow their teenage daughters to have this coverage as well, with “confidentiality”—whether the employee wants such coverage or not. The organizations can claim that they did not do this or agree to it, but the effect will be the same. Their decisions about benefits for their own employees will simply be taken away from them and given to others, potentially including hostile third parties like Planned Parenthood in the case of self-insured plans. Protecting a religious...

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