Catholic Charities: now available with condoms

File this under “Odd”: The California Supreme Court ruled that Catholic charities in California must provide their employees with medical coverage for birth control. Somebody queue up the song from that Monty Python skit.

To quote the New York Times Online article (free registration required):

Catholic Charities of Sacramento, which brought the case in 2000, argued that it should be exempt from the state law because it is a unit of the Roman Catholic Church, and the law does allow an exemption for “religious employers” like churches.

But the State Supreme Court ruled that the organization did not meet any of the criteria defining a religious employer under the law, which was passed in 1999. Under that definition, an employer must be primarily engaged in spreading religious values, employ mostly people who hold the religious beliefs of the organization, serve largely people with the same religious beliefs, and be a nonprofit religious organization as defined under the federal tax code.

The article goes on to explain that there’s a loophole to the law that would allow the charities to not offer such a benefit if they did not offer a prescription drug plan. I sincerely hope they don’t decide that no coverage is the lesser of two evils.

The solution to this seems pretty simple regardless of your views on birth control. The charities give their employees paychecks, yet don’t place restrictions on them as to how to spend the money. They preach and create a culture (I presume) that says employees shouldn’t blow their pay on booze and hookers, but should instead use it to tithe, provide for their families, and do other wholesome, prosocial things. But they don’t force them to.

Why can’t this part of their compensation package be the same way? Provide the access to birth control and let employees decide whether or not to use it.

Published by

5 thoughts on “Catholic Charities: now available with condoms

  1. So are you saying that the employees get a paycheck and could use part of it to buy birth control so they should not have to cover it? Not covering birth control is discrimination against women. I’ll bet that same plan covers viagra. I understand the church’s stance on birth control but the reality is you don’t see large Catholic families like you used to anymore so one of two things is going on. I am curious to read the court’s reasoning on why they don’t qualify as a religious entity.

  2. So are you saying that the employees get a paycheck and could use part of it to buy birth control so they should not have to cover it?

    No, you misunderstand me. I’m saying just the opposite. They should provide access to birth control and then leave it up to employees as to whether they want to exercise that option the same way they decide how to spend their paychecks.

    Not covering birth control is discrimination against women.

    Why not men, too? I don’t see why it’s women only. And is it possible to discriminate against against both men and women? The legal arguments hinge on denying rights or discriminationg based on religion, not discrimination on the basis of sex.

    I am curious to read the court’s reasoning on why they don’t qualify as a religious entity.

    See the part of the NY Times article that I quoted in the OP. It has to deal with whether the organization actively spreads religious beliefs, the degree to which they employ and serve Catholics, and how they fill out their tax forms.
    Apparently, the CA Supreme Court didn’t find enough of these things to consider them a religious organization, though another part of the article quotes a representative from the Catholic Charities taking issue with that. But the Court’s opinion overrules hers.

  3. OK, I hoped I misunderstood you and you were not advocating their stance. The first cases to be litigated in this area involved women suing for discrimination b/c birth control was not covered but everything else was. In a sense it is discriminating against men too but in order to protect themselves, they did/do not need to get birth control by prescription as did the women. Argument based on religion is all they had b/c these cases have been well litigated. I understand what the court argued to arrive at their decision but I was curious as to how they explaied away each of the criteria (oh my gosh I want to read cases now for the heck of it, what has law school done to me??). I have not read the article. I must admit I am not totally familiar with the mission and work of Catholic Charities and I wonder what percentage of their employees are Catholic (I would guess a lot). It is kind or ironic though if the employee/s who brought the suit were Catholic too. I too hope they don’t pull coverage rather than provide birth control.

  4. I agree with the court’s finding that they are not a religious organization. After all, Catholic Charities does not exclusively serve Catholics, they simply serve those in need, regardless of religious affiliation. Also, I don’t think they employ only Catholics. Their website describes the Catholic Charities organization as a “social service network” and they are affiliated with the United Way. It seems to me they would then be covered by the EEOC and could not discriminate on the basis of religion.

  5. I agree with both Jamie and Geralyn.
    I think a church can take a stand on something while still allowing the choice. Those who really believe in the religion’s values will make the choice the church wants anyway.
    And thank you for reminding me of that song! I haven’t heard it in ages. I’ll be singing it in my head the rest of the night…I’m a Roman Catholic, and have been since before I was born…

Comments are closed.