Minnesota Bishops Fighting Birth Control Mandate

Citing freedom of conscience, bishops in Minnesota are actively campaigning against including contraceptives in insurance coverage without a co-pay, saying that it will force them to have to provide birth control and “other abortifacients” to their employees.

Andy Birkey writes:

Minnesota’s Catholic bishops sent a letter to Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius on Thursday urging her department to drop a mandate on health insurance companies to cover birth control as part of their health plans.

The bishops argue that entities like Catholic Charities would have to offer insurance plans to their employees that offer coverage for contraceptives or else stop providing health benefits to employees.“While we support providing access to those services which can truly prevent disease or disability for woman such as pap smears and mammograms, we join other persons of good will who strenuously object to mandatory coverage for contraceptives and sterilization procedures,” the bishops wrote in the letter (PDF).

The bishops also object to the current “conscience clause” in the mandate.

A religious organization is exempt from the mandate so long as it “has as the inculcation of religious values as its purpose, primarily employs persons who share its religious tenets, and primarily serves persons who share its religious tenets.”

The bishops worry that religious charities would either have to provide health coverage that offers birth control or opt not cover their employees at all.

“By exempting only those who employ and/or serve persons of the same religious tradition from its mandates, Catholic health care providers—the safety net for many of our marginalized sisters and brothers—cannot enjoy the exception without abandoning our mission, to the significant detriment of those in need.”

It’s unclear what exactly the religious organizations believe they would have to “abandon” in their mission in order to qualify as a “religious organization.”

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  • forced-birth-rape

    St. Augustine said, “Any woman who acts in such a way that she cannot give birth to as many children as she is capable of, makes herself guilty of that many murders.”

    Martin Luther wrote: “God created Adam lord of all living creatures, but Eve spoiled it all. Women should remain at home, sit still, keep house and bear children. And if a woman grows weary and, at last, dies from childbearing, it matters not. Let her die from bearing; she is there to do it.”

  • kp

    Don’t the Bishops realize that birth control pills are actually used to prevent, control, and treat actual medical conditions?  That not every woman on birth control is necessarily sexually active?


    What if the organist or the housekeeper has endo or PCOS or just has really awful cramps?  Does the Catholic Church not want to allow her treatment for conditions that will affect her fertility when she does decide to get married?


    What if they discovered vasectomies cured some big bad men-only disease?  What if RUSIG clears up acne?  What if the still-unknown male birth control pill reduces the risk of cancer in men?  Would it then be OK for the men to use birth control, Bishops?  What if the men are otherwise abstinent?  Like your priests?


    The Bishops are so short-sighted and mean-spirited that I just wish they would STFU and stay away from medicine and health insurance.

  • inman

    It’s unclear what exactly the religious organizations believe they would have to “abandon” in their mission in order to qualify as a “religious organization.”

    Catholic Charities doesn’t just serve other Catholics, they help people in need regarless of their faith or lack theirof, which is an express of Christ’s love for all of the world. To qualify for the exemption, among other changes, Catholic Charities would have to only, or at least primarily, help Catholics, which would be to abandon their mission to help everyone in need.

  • inman

    Sorry double post.  Please delete

  • waterjoe

    KP: the situations you cited are not “birth control” medically or in the eyes of the Catholic Church. 

  • jennifer-starr

    And yet, if the pill is not covered by your insurance because of a busybody Catholic, you could be denied that medical care. 

  • kp



    So, as a “cura personalis” alternative, is the Catholic Church then going to force doctors to provide a “good, moral, Catholicly-correct” reason for birth control?  Or would a women have to go to a Jesuit clinic (but not a Franciscan or Benedictine one!) in order to have her moral justification even considered? Would she have to sign a document saying that she wouldn’t have sex and promise not to be raped while on the birth control?


    This scenario will only lead to women feeling they have to lie about symptoms to receive basic healthcare.  And that, my friends, is slut-shaming.

  • colleen

    Catholic Charities doesn’t just serve other Catholics, they help people in need regarless of their faith or lack theirof, which is an express of Christ’s love for all of the world.


    Catholic charities helps people because Catholic charities wins contracts from states and municipalities to perform specific services. In other words they make their money on the public’s dime. It was never their money to begin with.

    If Catholic charities didn’t do the job there are many qualified non-profits willing to step up. Indeed  we would all be better off if the Catholic church had nothing at all to do with the healthcare of women or ANYTHING to do with the care and protection of children.

    Right now the Catholic church spends far more money on lawyers and settlements than it ever spent helping the poor.  The amount of money they’ve spent on lawyers and lobbyists trying to prevent an increase in the statute of limitations so that victims of childhood sexual abuse can seek justice alone would provide for a medium size village.



  • elburto

    Religion should not be part of politics or healthcare. The hypocrisy of the Catholic church is especially galling, from an organisation that made money on the backs of young single mothers for decades. Women who were usually only pregnant because their religion prohibited contraception, were then vilified and turned into slaves by their own church, while their children were shipped off to be abused by the clergy elsewhere.

    Looking in from the outside it almost seems like they’re yearning for the days when they could do that to women.