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.