“U.S. Catholic Bishops Major Force Behind War on Women”
In April 2010, Newsweek had an article titled “A Woman’s Place Is in the Church” with the subtitle “The cause of the Catholic clergy’s sex-abuse scandal is no mystery: insular groups of men often do bad things. So why not break up the all-male club?” The article was strongly against the male officials of the church and had this to say:
The problem—bluntly put—is that the bishops and cardinals who manage the institutional church live behind guarded walls in a pre-Enlightenment world. Within their enclave, they remain largely untouched by the democratic revolutions in France and America. On questions of morality, they hold the group—in this case, the church—above the individual and regard modernity as a threat. We in the democratic West who criticize the hierarchy for its shocking inaction take the supremacy of the individual for granted. They in the Vatican who blast the media for bias against the pope value ecclesiastical cohesion over all. The gap is real. We don’t get them. And they don’t get us.
The assault on women’s rights from the Catholic bishops and cardinals has only gotten worse. Two days ago, NOW issued a press release titled “U.S. Catholic Bishops Major Force Behind War on Women.” It correctly declared that “[t]he collusion of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has led to an open declaration of war on the women of this country.” This is the press release:
Statement of NOW President Terry O’Neill
February 23, 2011
The collusion of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has led to an open declaration of war on the women of this country. The bishops have long sought to enshrine into law those policies of the Catholic Church that subordinate women. And they don’t care how badly women get hurt in the process.
In the last election, the bishops helped to elect legislators that would do their bidding, which includes enacting dangerous and discriminatory bills denying women safe, accessible and affordable abortion care and family planning, even encouraging hospitals to let women die in the name of ‘life.’
A recent poll shows abortion ‘barely registers’ among voter priorities, and yet Speaker Boehner has declared barring federal funding for abortion care a ‘highest priority’ — responding not to the call of his constituents but to the demands of the bishops. And it turns out abortion isn’t the only target, as evidenced by their stunningly dangerous efforts that, if enacted, can and will result in the preventable deaths of women:
- The proposed continuing resolution passed by the House to temporarily keep the government functioning would zero out Title X family planning, which has never covered abortion care. Should this gain traction in the Senate, millions of women, the vast majority of whom have incomes of less than $11,000 per year, will lose access to pap smears, testing for sexually transmitted infections, and contraception. It is a public health nightmare — but a dream-come-true for the Catholic bishops.
- HR 358, which many are calling the ‘Let the Women Die Act’ not only brings back Rep. Joe Pitts’ (R-Pa.) rejected Stupak-Pitts proposition from health care reform, but also encourages providers to refuse training, performance and even referral of abortion care. This bill gives our government’s ‘blessing’ to any emergency room that would let a pregnant woman die rather than perform an abortion procedure that could save her life.
- HR 3, also known as ‘Stupak on Steroids,’ would enshrine the Hyde Amendment into law and expand it to impose tax penalties on millions of families and businesses whose private insurance covers abortion care, thereby expanding the scope of Internal Revenue Service audits to the area between women’s legs. In testifying in favor of this bill in committee, a representative from the Catholic bishops proudly supported revoking abortion rights even in cases of rape. You read that right — and isn’t that rich, coming from the very men who have consistently protected sexually abusive priests?
- And HR 217, which NOW has dubbed the ‘Public Health Nightmare Act,’ would permanently eliminate Title X family planning services, leaving millions of women and men stranded without essential services like birth control, cancer screenings and screenings for HIV/AIDS and STDs.
Not only are these assaults on women’s rights at odds with generally accepted medical practice and flatly unethical, there is little doubt that they will kill women.
The National Organization for Women is fighting back against these efforts in coalition with our allies and women’s health advocates across the country. We also renew our demand that the federal government require the all-male and violently anti-woman U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops follow the same lobbying and disclosure requirements that currently apply to everyone else.
There is one tactic I would add. As I said in an April 2010 post about the Newsweekarticle:
Depressingly, catholic women are not doing much about the situation. The article says that, in the U.S., 60 percent of the people who attend Sunday mass are women and, thus, most of the contributions to the collection plate are made by women. That amount is $6 billion each year. Obviously, the catholic church (all churches for that matter) wants to bring in as much money as it can. It would seem that women would have a lot of leverage simply by stopping their Sunday contributions. I don’t remember seeing anything about monetary boycotts of the church, but there must be groups that are talking about that kind of an approach. If not, why not?
What else can be done to stop the Catholic bishops from continuing their assault on the rights of women?