Bishops Pledge to Violate New Birth Control Law

<a href="http://www.flickr.com/photos/spentpenny/46177684/sizes/m/in/photostream/">spentmoney</a>/Flickr


Earlier this month, the Obama administration announced that insurers must provide birth control free of charge to all women who want it. The decision came despite a good deal of pressure from religious groups, specifically the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which argued in favor of a broad exemption for any organization affiliated with a church that opposes contraception. Now some of the administration’s opponents are vowing to ignore the new rule.

Last week, the bishop of the Diocese of Phoenix sent a letter to church members announcing that it would not be following the new law. “We cannot—we will not—comply with this unjust law,” wrote Bishop Thomas Olmsted. “People of faith cannot be made second-class citizens.”

A spokeswoman for the US Conference of Catholic Bishops told Commonweal magazine that the letter is part of a coordinated response from the group, and said the bishops had “provided a template” for the letter to dioceses around the country. The bishops in Peoria, New Orleans, and Pittsburgh have issued similar letters.

But as Commonweal associate editor Grant Gallicho points out, no churches will actually be forced to violate their conscience on this issue. Churches are granted an exemption from offering health insurance that covers birth control. The Obama administration decided not to expand that exemption to cover schools, hospitals, or social service institutions that are affiliated with religious organizations. That’s the action that caused the USCCB to call on dioceses to protest the law.

DOES IT FEEL LIKE POLITICS IS AT A BREAKING POINT?

Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate