Why Does the Catholic Church Hate Women?

The outrage over legal and voluntary birth control isn’t a war on religion. It’s a war on female empowerment.

Last week when the Catholic Leadership came out against the mandate requiring all health insurance providers to offer coverage for prescribed birth control, tempers went from zero to hysterical in about a minute. Critics launched accusations of a “war on religion” and “intrusions on faith.” Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput referred to the mandate as “dangerous” and damaging to the First Amendment.

If requiring secular insurance companies to cover legal and voluntary birth control for any women who choose to take it is now defined as a “war on religion” in this world, then Hallelujah! We’ve come a long way from the burnings and drownings and stonings and exiling, haven’t we? (Somebody should probably update the Coptic Christians and Muslims in Egypt on this new development in religious persecution.)

I respect religion. I am religious. But I do not buy this tack from the Catholic church.

Amid the media mayhem, it might have been lost on some people that among Catholics surveyed about this mandate, more than half approved of the idea. And in our current world, with its immense problems and injustices and inequalities—and considering the problems the Church itself faces—the leadership’s decision to go to the mat over allowing its employees an insurance plan that includes coverage of voluntary birth control (birth control, which 98 percent of Catholic women have used) is not only akin to fiddling while Rome burns, it’s also borderline hypocritical.

Do Catholics not oppose the death penalty? And yet we all pay taxes toward the penal system that institutes it. Does anyone see paying income tax as facilitating death by electric chair? An even more relevant question: Aren’t vasectomies covered by most insurers? Where is the weeping and gnashing of teeth over that?

That leads me to the most alarming point. What we are talking about here is not, as some would frame it, a war against religion. Not by a longshot. What we’re dealing with is a war on women—women’s choice, women’s health, women’s right to use our own brains and our own moral compasses to make our own decisions. As the Inky’s Karen Heller noted this morning: “Why are we always fighting about women’s bodies and never those of men?”

It is simply weak for a largely male-run organization to worry that the insured coverage of birth control ends up being tantamount to an endorsement for said birth control. If some women oppose the covered birth control, then they retain the freedom to not take it. To write editorials about why they’re not taking it. To pray for those who do take it. To sign honor codes or ask others to sign honor codes about not taking it.

But if some women—Catholic or not—use the coverage to help them afford birth control they want to take, then it is a decision between themselves, their pharmacists and their God. We don’t need men, even holy men, to protect us from our brains and our uteruses. We just need the freedom to make decisions with informed conscience … to borrow a phrase from the Church.

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  • J.Oz

    Sorry to confuse the issue with some facts:
    – The Church does NOT pay taxes, therefore does not fund executions – quite the contrary, they lobby for convicted criminals
    – Vasectomies are sterilization and are a problem for The Church
    – You and I can make a personal choice on contraception, The Church is entitled to the same right of choice

    The issue is an individual rights issue, not a contraception issue. The Church and ALL organizations like it MUST have such rights. God Bless America!

  • hakanloob17

    j. oz…the catholic church also does not believe in babies out of wedlock. should an employee get pregnant without being married, does the church then have a right for their health insurance to not cover the delivery of her baby?

    and if the church feels this strongly regarding the issue, shouldn’t they refuse to hire women who utilize birth control? oh wait…that would be discrimination.

    i understand that you feel this is an individual rights issue. but in this case, the church is overstepping its perceived authority on the rights of women to use birth control.

  • dagbat1

    The HHS issue is not just about contraception. The HHS ruling forces organizations providing health plans to cover contraception, abortifacients (abortion inducing drugs), and sterilization regardless of their religious beliefs. It forces institutions and their people into acting against their conscience. You are making this into a Church anti feminist issue. It is not! You say that you respect religion and that you are a religious person. Then how can you condone someone (in this case the government) meddling with a person’s religious beliefs and FORCING them to act against both their religion and their personal conscience? Seems to me that all of your justifications are based on a secular belief, not a religious one. Sure a lot of Catholics use contraceptives and break the rules, but it does that mean that the rules become invalid and can be trampled. If I break my wedding vow to be faithful and decide that I want to instead fool around, does that negate my vow?

  • J.Oz

    hakanloob17…you’re first objection is completely misguided and sourced in you head. The Church calls for forgiveness and to provide support. Your 2nd point is off topic. Finally and most importantly, to your last point, YOU and one else has the “authority”, perceived or otherwise, to tell ANY religious organization what it’s position should be on contraception, sterilization, abortion, etc., etc., etc.

  • I’m a lapsed Catholic. I’m probably never going back. I disagree passionately with the church’s stance on contraception. (One of many reasons the church and I don’t see eye to eye.) However, whether I agree with the church’s stance or not, it is their stance. They should not be obliged by law to do something that is against one of their core moral beliefs. And if you want to get purely political about it, pissing off Catholics in an election year is a bad idea.

  • hakanloob17

    J.oz. it is a valid hypothetical that adequately parallels the subject. of course it it sourced from my head. where else would it come from man? can you answer the question?

    the 2nd topic was off a bit. but all in all a good point.

    i see the first amendment argument. sort of. i think you could apply the rationale of the church’s argument behind just about anything though. guns are bad. and also allowed just like birth control. in the eyes of the catholic church they both do extreme harm to human life. are both administered using free will. so could the church, hypothetically if it opposed fire arms as it does birth control, then say that their employees could not own a gun despite it being allowed by law?

    i know. i know. a stretch. but you perhaps get my point and have something you might want to add to this. happy to deliberate.

    and i think the writer said ‘catholics’ pay taxes, not churches.

  • My goodness, Christine, don’t let the facts get in the way of a good tirade, there. I think you’ll find a lot of wisdom in these words, which happen to be your own: “If requiring secular insurance companies to cover legal and voluntary birth control for any women who choose to take it is now defined as a “war on religion” in this world, then Hallelujah!” Look at the first part of that sentence. “Legal” and “voluntary.” Birth control is “legal.” The government cannot prevent you from obtaining it (see Griswold v. Conn. and Eisenstadt v. Baird) But it is not a fundamental right to have it paid for. So, then, if a woman wants to have protected sex, bully for her! She just has to make sure that if she gets a paycheck from a Catholic employer, either her partner pays for it for her, she gets a second job to afford the rubbers or the coil or the pill or whatever, or she resign herself to a life of abstinence. Very simple. Guess that makes me a woman hater, doesn’t it?

  • ilkkasinisalo23

    Oooh goody. A Christine blog fight is in the works.

  • rumplestilskin1

    First, the Catholic Church is a fundamentally misogynistic institution…otherwise there would be female Priests. Second, it is fundamentally the worlds largest corporation which has protected perverts in its management structure in order to protect its wealth…this is a matter of public record. Third, the Church did not adopt a position against birth control until the 1960s….what about the preceding 1000 year?. Fourth, throughout history Church officials have fathered more than their share of bastards. Fifth, “Freedom of Religion: also includes FREEDOM FROM RELIGION and I object to having Catholic doctorine imposed upon the rest of us in the name of religious freedom.

  • pldolan1

    The Catholic Church is out of touch with the real world, plain and simple. No wonder so many Catholics quit.

  • Eric Olsen

    stupid post. If the catholic church hates women then why do they hold the mother of Christ is such high esteem? Women saints?

  • Chris

    Maybe you should first start using your brain before you start crying about the WAR ON WOMEN by the Catholic Church. If the Church doesn’t respect women then tell me why so many Catholic women are earning their doctoral degrees, teaching in Catholic Universities and Seminaries (training our future priests), serving as chancellors in dioceses, where they are the “right arm” of of the bishop, exercising his delegated authority over the diocese, and serving at the heads of offices in the Church at the national and international level. On top of that, why did the Church give 3 women the highest title in the Church of DOCTOR of the Church (St. Catherine of Sienna, St. Teresa of Avila, and St. Therese of Lisieux)??? If you can’t understand that point, then what about the “rights” of the female babies in the womb? You call it a fetus, but did you know that “fetus” is Latin for “Little Baby”?