"Ok, we'll provide you with this coverage, but don't use it!"
That appears to be the stance the Catholic Church is taking in Madison, Wisconsin, where a new law requiring employers offer contraceptives in their health plans has just gone into effect. And the church is not happy about it at all. Via Newsradio 620:
Under a new state law, the Madison Catholic Diocese must offer birth control in its health insurance plan.
But a diocesan spokesman warns employees who use it could be fired. Brent King says contraceptives go against Catholic teachings:
"And with the mandate that all of these policies need to have contraception coverage in it, it's kind of directly in the face of what we believe," King said.
Reproductive rights activists are applauding the change, especially due to the fact that numerous Catholics do use chemical birth control for family planning reasons. From KansasCity.com:
Reproductive health advocates, including the Washington-based Catholics for Choice, criticized the stand, calling birth control "basic health care."
"The reality is the vast majority of Catholics use contraceptive family planning," said David Nolan of Catholics for Choice. "And making them access it elsewhere or pay full price because they can't get it through their insurance is a needless barrier."
Because birth control is so popular, the church has come up with a master plan in how to deal with employees that might use the new prescription resource: just pretend that they aren't.
[P]eople who work for the diocese must sign a morals clause agreeing to abide by Catholic teachings. King says they would only fire someone who is especially vocal about using birth control:
"No one would ever be terminated for sinning. We're all sinners. It would take a very public defiance of what the church believes and teaches for someone to ever get terminated."
But don't worry, folks. You won't get fired right away if you are caught using prohibited drugs. According to the Wisconsin State Journal:
Such a step [termination] would be taken only if the employee, after being counseled, refused to get in line with Catholic teaching, King said. "It wouldn't be the first thing we do," he said.