The furor over President Obama's decision to force Catholic employers to provide health care that covers contraceptives brought a story to mind for Gail Collins. Her mother-in-law once told her that, when she'd confessed to a priest she was using birth control, he replied, "You're no better than a whore on the street." These days the clergy is less judgmental, but the story shows "why bishops are not the only Roman Catholics who are touchy about the issue of contraception," she writes in the New York Times.
Studies show that virtually all sexually active Catholic women have used the pill, despite church dogma. Bishops, of course, are entitled to teach that dogma anyway, Collins says, but "religions don't get to force their particular dogma on the larger public." The new rules exempt churches, but cover places like universities and hospitals, which are full of non-Catholic employees. If employers can deny these people coverage based on their own beliefs, Collins concludes, "What happens if an employer belongs to a religion that forbids certain types of blood transfusions?" Click for the full column. (Read more Gail Collins stories.)