The new Pope is hard at work doing the humble thing and trying to stop sex abuse, but that might not be enough to resolve the gap between the views of the Obama administration — and, increasingly, American Catholics — on contraception and the Church's vehement stance against it.
Following a judge's ruling that could make birth control available over the counter with no age restrictions within the month, the Obama administration announced Friday night that it will fight a subpoena from the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York, which is requesting documents about the Obamacare mandate for its lawsuit against the government. The Archdiocese, along with several other organizations, contend that the mandate violates freedom of religion because it requires that employee health insurance includes contraceptives. The White House, which is represented by the Justice Department, says the Archdiocese's records request is "too burdensome to fulfill" as well as "inappropriate." So, basically, it's way too much work and you shouldn't have asked in the first place.
The Obama administration tried to compromise with anti-contraception groups in February by allowing certain religious organizations to opt out of providing for contraception in their insurance plans. The employees would be given separate coverage through a third party at no additional cost to the organization. But this still wasn't good enough for the Archdiocese, which claims it will face $200 million in penalties every year if it refuses to comply with the mandate.
The Archdiocese's parishioners may not feel quite so strongly. Last month, a New York Times/CBS News poll showed that the vast majority of American Catholics supported at least some form of contraception — nine out of 10, for example, were hoping the new pope would allow the use of condoms to prevent sexually transmitted diseases. Seven out of 10 were in favor of artificial methods of birth control.
The poll also showed that half of those polled thought religious organizations should be allowed to opt out of paying for contraceptives through employee insurance. Last year, though, that number was two-thirds. That's a pretty dramatic decrease in a short amount of time.
Perhaps most telling, eight out of 10 Catholics polled said that when it came to "difficult moral questions," they were more likely to trust their guts than the pope's teachings. Which means if they want to use artificial methods of contraception, they will. Even if the Pope tells them not to and the Archdiocese refuses to follow the current health care mandate.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.