The Bishop’s Poker Game

Yesterday the Conference of Catholic Bishops announced their rejection of the Obama’s Administration’s latest modification of the Affordable Care Act.  The modification was aimed at finding middle ground where religious organizations and those affiliated did not need to pay for health insurance that contained full women’s health measures (including birth control).  The Bishop’s rejection makes one think the Bishops believe their ultimate trip to the Supreme Court, with its 6 catholic Justices, will go their way.

The latest compromise would have allowed the church a face saving way out.  For reasons that defy logic, the Bishops rejected the offer.  This is especially strange when one considers that (1) 96% of American catholic women use birth control regularly.  (2) The single group who would be most disadvantaged if the Bishop’s position is upheld will be the poor (the focus of much of the Catholic Church rhetoric).  And, (3) church affiliated businesses include universities (whose basketball and football teams make hundreds of millions), charities (who largely redistribute government funds), and hospitals (which are raking in money through ever rising health care costs).

It is of little use to try and understand the Bishop’s real objectives.  There is nothing in ACA that compels anyone to use birth control and certainly the Constitution is clear that no religion has a right to restrict members of other religions or those who have no faith just because that particular religion believes one thing or the other.

If the Bishops want to strengthen their argument, they ought to get full compliance from their members first.  They might do well also to remember who won the last election with a majority of catholic women’s vote.  

I wonder whether they can get Los Angeles Cardinal Mahoney to come back from retirement and help lead the PR campaign.   


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