Dear Tell All: As a Catholic, I was struck by the Madison Catholic diocese's recent response to the new state law requiring that it offer its employees insurance coverage for birth control. The law says that commercial policies with a drug benefit must cover prescription contraceptives - and that, amusingly, happens to be the kind of insurance the diocese has.
If I were them, I'd have let this pass in silence. After all, Catholics who believe everything the bishops say will refrain from using contraceptives. Those who don't will work through the issue on their own to determine whether using contraceptives is really a moral failing. So why make a big deal over it, especially given the recent screaming global headlines about the church's own (and clearly graver) moral failings?
But the diocese just couldn't help itself. It announced that anyone caught using the contraceptive benefit could be fired, and thus made itself look ridiculous. Apparently, the celibate men who hand down these laws about Catholic women's bodies realize that most of us are already using contraceptives, like other health- and environmentally conscious women of the 21st century. And they're so annoyed by our rampant disobedience that they feel the need to come out with such (pardon the expression) impotent threats.
Here's my advice to women who work for the diocese. Have a friend go to the pharmacy to buy the contraceptives for you, just as high school students have older teenagers buy beer for them at liquor stores. That way you get to keep your job without having to surrender control over your own body and your own future.
Thoroughly Modern Mary
Dear Mary: I can't pretend to be an authority on the theological arguments involved in this issue. But as someone who used to ask older teenagers to buy me beer at liquor stores, I would recommend discretion for anyone who sends a friend into the pharmacy to pick up contraceptives. Hide casually behind a bush rather than pressing your face against the glass to see what's happening inside. And whatever you do, no high-fives when she comes out with the goods. Trust me on this.
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