Like a wily politician, I, as they say, became enlightened and changed my position regarding the perceived infringement on religious liberties the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) contained in regards to the contraception mandate.
I managed to avoid tossing the hackneyed and weighted John Maynard Keynes line: “When the facts change, I change my mind, what do you do, sir?” into my previous columns on the topic, but I have thought about using it. (And I guess now, I have.)
In its second public fissure with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, the Catholic trade group announced that it could accept the Obama administration’s original compromise on the contraception mandate albeit with a few “accommodations.” And it should, for two reasons: Because it is a good deal and because it is the right thing to do.
Allow me address the latter reason first. Back in late January of 2012, I wrote my first column on the issue and slapped the incendiary title Let the Bishops have their bottle on it. I was hit with waves of angry emails by people who apparently did not read the actual column. If they would have read it they would have realized I was arguing, as was the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, that faith-based groups (hospitals and educational institutions, amongst others), with no direct affiliation with a specific house of worship, be offered the same exemption from the contraception mandate that churches, other houses of worship and their affiliated organizations are afforded.
My reasoning at the time was that the non-Catholic individual who was, say, employed as a janitor in a Catholic hospital should not expect steak to be served in the cafeteria on Fridays. Bottom line: If you decide to work for a faith-based organization and you are not a member of that specific faith, you should expect the mores of that faith to permeate your work environment. Therefore, women who work at a Catholic charitable organization should not expect that organization to provide them with contraception, sterilization and drugs that can cause early abortions.
Then, 12 months later I changed my mind. In my second column on the topic, entitled One year later, I assailed my original position as being narrow-minded and ignorant. You see, the fact is that 99 percent of women use contraceptives at some point in their lives for myriad of things besides actual birth control. Adolescent girls and young women are often prescribed birth control for irregular menstruation cycles, menstrual cramps, endometriosis and Polycystic Ovary Syndrome, an endocrine disorder. No one should be denied access to drugs for these conditions because of their employer’s religious values.