Shopping for Outrage

There are many things I find wearying about political races, but few are more so than candidates looking for issues they can exploit for their own gain.

The latest here is the ongoing debate about President Obama and his Affordable Care Act: he proposes that beginning this September most insurers will be required to provide contraceptives. Some of the companies that will now need to provide that are certain Catholic institutions. Not surprisingly, some Catholic institutions oppose this: you can see the US Catholic Bishop’s response here.

The Catholic Church has had a longstanding view that artificial birth control is immoral. Almost nobody has done this, but you can read two encyclicals on this: Casti Connubii (1931) and Humanae Vitae (1968).

Interestingly enough, Catholics couples use artificial birth control at about the same rate as everyone else. Many liberal and faithful Catholics (like me) think this line in the sand by the Church is a mistake. It makes us look silly, out of touch, and anachronistic. It’s time for Rome to admit Paul VI made a mistake with Humanae Vitae.

What’s frustrating for us is that the Republican candidates have grabbed this silly issue and run with it: they have found a place to declare outrage. They are turning this into a religious freedom issue and making it sound like President Obama is waging war on us. He isn’t.

The president is simply making the point that we all do better when couples have the tools they need to make a better life for themselves and their children. It’s easy for (Catholics) Rick and Karen Santorum to have 7 children: Rick earned nearly a million dollars last year. For other couples who dearly love each other but aren’t blessed to be former congressmen, who are making their livings as cops, teachers, or construction workers, it’s not so easy.

We should hear their voices too.

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