When I learned last week about the Catholic Church’s opposition to certain provisions of healthcare reform legislation passed in 2010, I must admit that my first reaction was “Rock on Catholic Church!” Yes, a woman who uses birth control, who believes that birth control is the key to female empowerment and the single most powerful weapon we have in the fight for women’s rights, is in support of the Catholic Church. Liberty sometimes makes strange bedfellows.
I see it this way: if the government can order a private employer to provide birth control, then they can also order me, the employee of that private employer, to take birth control. Governments have been known before in the United States and elsewhere, to enforce compulsory sterilization or one-child policies. It happened right here in North Carolina from 1929 – 1975 (1).
I am not trying to be an alarmist. I understand that on the surface, last week’s controversy is about access to contraception, something I very much favor. I understand that it isn’t about the government telling a group of women, or even one woman, that they must utilize contraception. Yet the potential for that is most certainly present. The potential for the government to tell us not to take contraception is also there.
Whether you are someone who believes that birth control is a positive tool or someone who believes that it is a moral aberration, doesn’t it scare you a little to learn that our government has the power to enter our lives in this intimate arena? It scares me. More, it scares me that I’m not hearing much dialogue at all about this underlying concern. Have we come to a place in America where we simply take for granted this high level of federal government intervention in the decisions of private enterprise, religious and otherwise?
This is why today I am proud of the Catholic Church: they are talking about it. Post Obama-concessions, the Archbishop, and soon to be Cardinal Dolan, said this: “We are still afraid that we are being called upon to subsidize something we find morally illicit. There is still no attention to what you might call the deeper philosophical issues, namely, ‘What right does a federal bureau have to define the who, what, where and how of religious practice?’” (2).
Amen. Awoman. The Church is onto something.
I feel like our attention is being side tracked by detail haggling while the broad strokes are decided with nary a debate. We are worrying about what procedures and prescriptions the government will include in their healthcare agenda rather than about whether we should give the government the power to make these healthcare choices in the first place. Frankly, I don’t want the U.S. Government in charge of my reproductive health any more than I want the Catholic Church in charge.
It is imperative that as a nation we begin to engage those “deeper philosophical issues.” I’ll start us off: “What rights does a federal bureau have?”
© Jennifer S. and harvestliberty.net, 2012.